US-China tensions over Taiwan
Tensions over Taiwan have soared. A visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and comments from other US officials about the island have infuriated China. The self-ruled island has grown into a durable democracy and major semiconductor producer. The US president Joe Biden has promised to help Taiwan and get involved military to defend Taiwan. However, there is problem that China sees Taiwan as part of its own territory and has threatened to seize it if necessary. Over the past year has also sent dozens of planes, bombers and fighter jets into the air space close to Taiwan.
In order to understand most explosive issue in US-China escalation over Taiwan, the first thing to know that Taiwan which is located off China’s coast, have been self-governed since 1949. That is when the Communist Party took power in mainland China and some nationalists fled to the island. For China, Taiwan is seen as always been the one that got away. When the Chinese Communist Party first founded the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan was never a part of the People’s Republic. Instead it was governed by the Kuomintang Party that had fled to the island after brutal civil war. Ever since then, every Chinese leader has sought to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and President Xi Jinping is also doing the same. But the US has shown support for President Tsai Ing-wen. From Beijing perspective, she is a leader who is dangerously pushing Taiwan closer to independence.
The major reason behind US-China conflict over Taiwan is South China Sea dispute. China wants to invade Taiwan because thirty percent of shipping passes through South China Sea which is blessed with many natural resources. China is so keen on taking control of this region by invading Taiwan. On the other hand, US is also trying to have control in South China Sea by helping Taiwan.
Taiwan became a bigger bilateral issue between the US and China during the administration of President Trump. What president Donald Trump did was to make it part of US policy to tighten ties with Taiwan and this has continued under President Biden.
For decades, the US has sent weapons and more recently, has sent troops to provide military training despite China’s warnings. The US has a few reasons to do that. Firstly, Taiwan is the US ninth largest trading partner and Taiwan is also a key part of global supply chains.
Taiwan is also a litmus test for US credibility in the region, because the US allies will watch US treatment of Taiwan carefully. Another reason Taiwan is so strategic for the US and China is the role it plays in manufacturing. Taiwan is considered as a home to the world’s most critical chip-maker and semiconductors have been short supply over the past year.
China has made a series of moves in the region in what Taiwan sees as attempts to discourage the island from forging closer with the US and other allies. China also said it would hold live fire military drills around Taiwan in early August. But this does not mean China will actually invade the island, which carries a lot of risk considering Washington’s pledges to help Taiwan defend in emerging conflict or war like situation in Taiwan.
Furthermore, Taiwan is one of a number of issues such as trade and technology that have soured US-China relations in recent years. Despite the risk of escalation, the US is signaling that even with war raging in Ukraine, it can remain very active in the strategic Asia-Pacific region. If the US does not stand up for Taiwan in the face of China coercion, then US credibility in the region suffers and it would affect its relationship with other allies in the region.