In the past few days the US-China tensions have reached peak levels after the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. Nancy Pelosi is the highest ranking US official to visit Taiwan since 1997. And this visit itself has enraged China so much, that Xi Jinping outright warned President Biden and conducted live fire military drills near Taiwan. The situation is so intense that this scenario could escalate to China Taiwan conflict or even World War-III situation itself.
So inspite of Taiwan being a different country with it’s own military, it’s own government and a flag, why China still considers Taiwan to be a part of its mainland? What is so special about this tiny island nation that Chinese are willing to wage a war against the American military itself?
This story dates back to 1945, during that time the World War-II had just ended and the Japanese had surrendered and given up control over China and after the Japanese rule the Republic of China officially began ruling Taiwan with the consent of its allies which were the US and the UK. And even historically Taiwan was a part of China since the 17th century. But on 10th of August 1945 a massive civil war broke out in China and the leader Chiang Kai-Shek was defeated by the communist leader Mao Zedong. This is when Chiang Kai-Shek and his supporters fled to Taiwan in 1949.
This group then independently started ruling Taiwan and dominated the Taiwanese politics for the next 50 years, until the year 2000 this is when finally, democracy was established in Taiwan. And this history is the reason why China by default considers Taiwan to be a part of the Chinese mainland.
Chinese Communist Party is so serious about this issue that in 2005 they came out with something called the anti-secession law and by this law China made it very clear that it wants Taiwan by hook or by crook.
The anti-secession law consisted of three sentences, which were:
- Taiwan is a part of China and the state shall never allow the Taiwan independent secessionist forces to make Taiwan secede from China under any name or by any means.
- Solving the Taiwan question and achieving national reunification is China’s internal affair which subjects to no interference by any outside forces.
- If Taiwan declares independence, China shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect territorial integrity.
Now the question over here is that this law was made in 2005 and it’s been 16 years since then, so why is this a concern for the world now?
Well that is because China’s military strength has grown exponentially in the past 30 years. Secondly, China has already started flying its aircrafts near Taiwan. If you see the median line of Taiwan, it is supposed to be Taiwan’s territory and military planes are not supposed to enter this space without their permission but the Chinese military frequently crosses this line, not once or twice but hundreds of times in the past few years and this frequency has only been increasing with time.
Now the question over here is Taiwan is such a small country and if you compare both their armies, China has 10 times more ground force, 8 times more naval destroyers and 30 times more submarines, then why didn’t china attack Taiwan till now?
Well that is because Taiwan has been backed by none other than the United States itself. When president Joe Biden was asked if he would come to rescue Taiwan if china attacked, Biden openly said ‘Yes’ and stated that America has a commitment to do that.
So if China attacks Taiwan, according to president Biden the US will intervene which means we could be looking at a military war between two of the most powerful nations in the world. And more importantly two nuclear superpowers will be head-to-head in what could perhaps escalate to World War-III itself.
This is the backing that Taiwan has, now this begs the question what is so special about this little island that the United States of America itself is willing to take such a big risk to go head-on with China?
The first reason for this is the south china sea dispute and this is one of the most critical reasons why china would invade Taiwan.
South China Sea is the region in the world map where we have countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam and this is by far one of the most important regions in the world because 30% of the entire world’s shipping passes through this region and it amounts to 3.37 trillion dollars in trade every single year.
As far as the strategic resources are concerned according to council on foreign relations, the South China sea is estimated to have 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and the most vital benefit of all is that the country controlling this maritime route will have natural military advantage over the rest of the world including the United States.
And China is so keen on taking control of this region that they have placed military ships, conducted military drills and even built artificial islands to claim the South China Sea.
And in this context if China attacks Taiwan and wins, it will have an insane upper hand over the second most important region in the world and this region gives them more control over a plethora of resources, a strategic military advantage and most importantly dominance over this three trillion dollar trade route.
Secondly, for the U.S it is a question of reputation and safety reputation because if the US does not defend Taiwan then the rest of the countries that the United States has signed a defence agreement with, like Japan and other countries including the NATO allies will be extremely offended.
And Thirdly, the critical aspect of the semiconductor crisis and a giant Taiwanese company called TSMC. If you look at the market of the semiconductor contractors all across the world you will see that while China stands at 6%, South Korean manufacturers stand at 17%, rest of the world stands at 13%, but Taiwan alone has a market share of 63% and in that also TSMC alone commands a market share of 54%. It’s the world’s largest foundry that counts major technology firms such as Apple, Qualcomm and Nvidia and even all the major car makers around the world including Volkswagen, Ford Motors and Toyota motors are super dependent on Taiwan for its semiconductors.
Furthermore, replicating the manufacturing of semiconductors is an extremely costly and time-consuming process that involves thousands of complicated procedures and the world is heavily dependent on Taiwan for semiconductor manufacturing.
This is the reason why the United States is extremely concerned about Taiwan and takes its commitment to protect it very seriously.
That’s why the entire world is extremely worried about the China Taiwan conflict and even the slightest miscalculation can escalate this to a World War-III itself.
Furthermore because the world is already suffering due to the Russia-Ukraine war, if this war happens it would be a nightmare for the world economy itself.