The Invasion of Taiwan: Is War coming?

Written and Narrated By Ethan Hay

From 1945 to 1949, China was engaged in a violent civil war between the Chinese Communist Party, (1) led by Mao Zedong, (2) and the Nationalist Kuomintang, (3) led by Chiang Kai-Shek. (4) The war (5) ultimately came to an end when the Communists were able to take control of the mainland, establishing the Peoples Republic of China. (6) Meanwhile, the Kuomintang fled to the island of Formosa, which was renamed Taiwan, (7) founding the Republic of China.

The world has always had a complicated relationship with both Taiwan and the People’s Republic. For instance, the island nation was a one of the original members of the United Nations. As such, Taiwan had a seat in the UN General Assembly and was even a member of the permanent UN Security Council. But on October 25th, 1971, the UNGA passed resolution 2758. This resolution (8) expelled Taiwan from the body and recognized the Peoples Republic of China ‘as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.’ That has not stopped Taiwan from trying to gain membership (9) within the body, the most recent of many failed attempts taking place in 2007. It has also been denied membership in the World Health Organization. (10) The United States also doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a country. The US State Department (11) says that ‘the 1979 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communique switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.’ The State Department also says that Taiwan and the US ‘enjoy a robust unofficial relationship.’ (12)

What about China though? According to the official website of the United Arab Emirates Chinese embassy, (13) the Chinese government views Taiwan as a territory that ‘illegally usurped China’s UN seat for as long as twenty-two years.’ Recently though, the Chinese government has become more aggressive in its claims that Taiwan is a territory. The General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and President of the country, Xi Jingping, (14) has said that ‘the historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled and will definitely be fulfilled.’ Even so, Xi Jinping has said that this ‘reunification’ should be done in a ‘peaceful manner.’ This comes as China continues to build up its military and increase pressure (15) on the island of twenty-three million residents. Then there is also the Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-Cheng, who says that tensions between the two countries are at the highest point in nearly forty years. He also has said that China would be able to launch a full-scale invasion by 2025. Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister of Taiwan, Joseph Wu, has said that the Taiwanese government is preparing for war, (17) saying that ‘the defense of Taiwan is in our own hands, and we are absolutely committed to that.’

While there is the push by the Chinese Communist Party to emphasize a seemingly cultural push to capturing the island, there is also a strategic value to taking it. It lies between the island nation of Japan, and the archipelago that makes up the Philippines, and according to Forbes, (18) it also ‘anchors a chain of islands that U.S. strategists have identified as crucial to containing the rising military power of China.’ But Taiwan also is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which, according to Bloomberg, (19) ‘boasts a 53% share of the contract chipmaking market, fueling concern that any instability in the Taiwan Strait could cut off supply of key silicon used by hundreds of companies including Apple Inc. for its iPhones.’ So, if China were to capture the island, it could potentially cripple the IT community.

Now, how is the US responding to this situation? Other than the stereotypical political hand wringing, there have been reports of a small contingent of US Marines and even Special Operators being stationed (20) in Taiwan. The question is if things do go south, will the US stand and fight alongside Taiwan? Well, based on the current administration’s ineptitude, that remains to be seen. But the US government has made promises in the past and signed deals with the Taiwanese (21) government, whose current President, Tsai Ing-Wen, (22) has said that Taiwan will ‘do whatever it takes to defend itself.’ Hopefully, team Biden honors those agreements and stands with Taiwan in defense of liberty.