Chinese officials started encouraging people to store food, despite rising pork and vegetable prices. Chinese officials may encourage people to be prepared as a way of expressing concern over cold snaps or future COVID-19 lockdowns. Some fear that it could be a darker sign that indicates the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP), desire for people to prepare themselves for war.
Tensions between China, Taiwan and Japan have been simmering for years. However, China has sent an unprecedented number of warplanes into Taiwanese Air Defense Identification Zone (149), while carrying out military exercises in a province across the river from Taiwan.
Taiwan’s defense Minister Chiu KuoCheng wrote that the current situation was the most difficult since I joined the army forty years ago. The Wall Street JournalThe author regretted that Taiwan was not as powerful, resource-wise, or technologically advanced, than China. China dwarfs the island’s area and population, with less than 0.5% of its mainland size.
China and Taiwan have had a complicated relationship since 1684 when Qing dynasty took over the island. Admiral Shi Lang described its abundant resources as: “Fish, salt, and bamboo spout forth out of the ocean; the mountains are full of dense forests with tall trees and thick Bamboo; there is sulfur, rattan and sugarcane; deerskins and everything you need for everyday living.” There is no shortage of food. Nothing is lacking.” However, civil war broke the country apart just few years later. In Taiwan, the Chinese Nationalist Party (“Kuomintang”) would be exiled and continue to practice martial law for almost 40 years.
However, democracy has thrived in Taiwan since 1987’s end of the Kuomintang dictatorial regime. Taiwan has enjoyed a sustained economic growth, just like in South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. The island also saw the emergence of strong civil society institutions and political freedoms towards the end 20th century.
14 U.N. member states recognize Taiwan’s independence. A large part of the international community views Taiwan’s autonomy as valid and worthy of defending. The CCP considers Taiwan today a territory that has gone rogue. The mainland doesn’t have any right to claim the island, according to many Taiwanese citizens, headed by President Tsai You-wen. Many think that China should not attempt to annex the island. Some people would prefer not to be cut off from economic activity on the continent, but most realize how much their lives could be affected if they fall under CCP control.
Taiwan is still considered a “limbo” by America. The U.S. maintains an embassy-by-another-name there and has soldiers on the ground to assist the Taiwanese military. The U.S. recognizes Beijing’s government, but not Taipei. The assumption is that China will behave in a peaceful manner throughout the Taiwan Strait.
During a CNN town hall in October, President Joe Biden vowed to protect Taiwan, saying somewhat controversially that “we have a commitment” to come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacks—the same position that then-President George W. Bush took two decades before. However, it is not true that the U.S. must defend Taiwan. In fact, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 states only that any military attempt to take Taiwan would be of “grave worry”. Taiwan’s position in the global electronics marketplace makes this concern even more serious.
Taiwan provides “all that’s needed for daily life,” however, this is not because of the salt and fishes that spout from the ocean. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s chips make up the core of your phone, car, or laptop. The chips are vital components that enable factories across the globe to produce the electronics they need.
Chiu is concerned that China’s intent “is to quickly take Taiwan and deny any third parties the opportunity to intervene.” A protracted military conflict with China would lead to global supply chain chaos. We don’t yet know how the U.S. will respond to CCP’s totalitarian flexing, or the potential collateral damage. China could have a lot to gain. But, everyone is going to suffer.