Let’s Tune In: Taiwan’s Issue

Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta
Latest posts by Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta (see all)

Let’s Tune In is a weekly column produced by our Newsroom team to highlight one story that you might have missed from last week. You can read more about our weekly content on the Newsroom page.

The Chinese response to the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s visit to Taiwan, the highest American representative person there since 1997, arrives. The People’s Republic of China decided that the right response was to halt the US and Chinese cooperation in several fields such as defence, justice, and climate change and to take several measures against Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family members, this last in accordance with relevant laws in China.

Since the division in 1949, China has always looked at Taiwan as a rebel province of China. After a civil war that had started before the second war world and that it will come at the end in 1949, the communist took the power, leaving the territory divided into two parts the communist incapable to take over the island without ships and equipment and Taiwan uncapable to take back the country.

The United States‘ position over this “conflict” has always changed according to the needs of the US economy and security. Taiwan had been a US ally from 1954 to 1979. This latter year, the agreement between the Chinese Communist Party and the US marked an important change in the countries’ relationship in the Pacific. After the agreement, the US-Taiwan relationship changed, the US continued to have some unofficial relationships with the Asian nation, but the US was forced to recognize only one China and Taiwan as a part of it. Since then nothing has changed. The agreements between the US and Taiwan are always unofficial but the US behavior that is changing due to the new relationship/competition with China

Biden had clearly said that the US military discouraged Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan at the end of July but Nancy Pelosi did not intend to skip it, because as she had said: “it is important to support Taiwan”. She has denounced several times the human rights record, met with pro-democracy dissidents, and also visited Tiananmen Square to commemorate victims of the 1989 massacre. The visit was already planned for April but after she tested positive to the Covid-19 she was forced to postpone its journey.

Source: Nancy Pelosi

For a few years, China has had a more aggressive attitude against Taiwan, there have been several problems at the Taiwan maritime borders, and what is new is that China is simulating aggression against Taiwan these days after Pelosi’s visit. This might suggest that the moment when China will invade Taiwan is closer than we think. China has never hidden its intentions, China has always said that it would have fought if it was necessary for the reunification of the Mainland.

Before Pelosi visited Taiwan, China swore consequences if the visit took place. Indeed, it is interesting to highlight that the Chinese countermeasures against the US are not either in the economic or the military field, even if they hit other sectors. According to several analysts, it is not the Chinese intention to start a war that China cannot win in a few days because of the high costs it can face on the ground and because of the crisis. The war could bring heavy consequences, because of the sanctions the world could put in place against China, such as the European Union and the US have done with Russia after it invaded Ukraine. The contemporary countermeasures, however, could be the last warning before the sanctions become economical.

Will China place further sanctions? Will the US change the way it supports Taiwan?

Suggested Reading:

Taiwan: China attack not imminent, but US watching closely, says Gen Milley – BBC News

Pelosi Taiwan visit: Beijing vows consequences if US politician travels to island – BBC News

Xi and Biden exchange warnings on Taiwan – BBC News

China unveils sanctions on US over visit – Chinadaily.com.cn

Milestones: 1977–1980 – Office of the Historian (state.gov)

2022 United States congressional delegation visit to Taiwan – Wikipedia

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Let’s Tune In: Taiw…

by Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta time to read: 3 min