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The coming battle for Taiwan

GS Paper 2 

Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: Live Mint

Context: Given the recent visit of US leader Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the geopolitics in the region have become intense.

Direction: Those preparing for Mains this year, make a separate note on the related topics: The present crisis (for GS2), the new cold war (GS2) and the Chinese revolution (1949) (for world History). Others can just go through it once.

Background of the issue:

Taiwan, a tiny island off the east coast of China, is where Chinese republicans of the Kuomintang government retreated after the 1949 victory of the communists — and it has since continued as the Republic of China (RoC).

People’s Republic of China (PRC or China) maintains that “there is only one China in the world” and “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China“.

However, self-ruled Taiwan sees itself as no less than an independent nation, and its leaders have vowed to defend its sovereignty against the Chinese goal of “reunification”. Currently, Taiwan is entirely dependent on the US for its defence against possible Chinese aggression.

Why does China want to reunify the country?

  • To recover from two centuries of perceived ‘humiliation’ by Western powers
  • To finish the civil war that started nearly a hundred years ago.
  • China believes that if it recovers Taiwan, then it will retake its rightful place as a global power.

 

Recent evolution of Chinese doctrine:

  • First Act: China has adopted Deng Xiaoping’s ‘hide and bide’ strategyand Hu Jintao’s ‘peaceful rise’. Thus, it remained peaceful, until it was powerful enough to move to the next stage.
  • Second Act: By 2010 China was powerful enough to challenge world powers, therefore, it started forcefully taking control of disputed territories, both land, and sea, on its own terms.
    • g., change the status quo along the Ryukyus, Spratlys, Paracels, the nine-dashed lines in the South China Sea, and, the Himalayan frontiers with Bhutan, Nepal, and India.
  • Third act:Hong Kong virtually reunited (2020). China destroyed its limited autonomy under “one country, two systems”. Macao had already been taken. Thus, the only remaining Chinese target is Taiwan.
  • The Fourth act: It will take place when China has reunified ‘Taiwan’. It will then challenge and upstage the US as the world’s dominant power.

Issues with the Chinese policy:

  • Internal Weakness of China: China has been suffering from one century of civil war and revolutionary excesses. For example, recent attacks on the private sector, the tech economy, the current zero-covid policy, etc. have damaged the Chinese economy.
    • People in Hong Kong are still protesting the Chinese takeover.
  • External resistance: India’s resistance has added friction to the Chinese ambition in the Himalayas. QUAD and AUKUS have emerged. Nancy Pelosi’s visit is a manifestation of a bipartisan consensus in Washington that Beijing must be challenged.
  • The danger of world war/Nuclear war: UN chief has already warned that recent geopolitical events may cause nuclear wars.

Indo- Taiwan relations:

  • India doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but both sides have trade and people-to-people ties.
  • India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.

 What India should do?

  • Take sides: Late K. Subrahmanyam pithily stated that India is better off on the side of the West in its contest with China because China’s desire and thy manner of pursuing its desire is wrong
  • Use Taiwan to challenge China: Taiwan is not a major strategic concern for India. However, because it is the single most important factor that can consume Beijing’s energies and delay its play for global power, it is in our interest that Taiwan keep China occupied. Therefore, to some extent, our interests converge with those of the US, Japan, Australia, and the Taiwanese people.
  • Material and moral support: Quad partners can extend material support, and India’s moral support for Taiwan can be very important.

Conclusion:

International leaders should pursue good diplomacy, which involves buying time and sustaining peace. What is needed is countries should try to come to a win-win solution that takes care of the wishes of people rather than just perceived national pride.

 

Insta Links

India-Taiwan Relation

 

Mains Link

Q. What is the ‘One China Policy’? Examine as to how the Taiwan issue exemplifies the volatile cocktail of geopolitical contestations between the U.S and China. (250 Words)