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China-Taiwan Conflict

Tensions between China and Taiwan are on an uprise. Chinese military is conducting military drills on the seas surrounding Taiwan. Missiles are being tested. Chinese fighter jets are intruding on Taiwan's airspace. Taiwanese government websites are under cyber attack. Taiwan's foreign minister responded to it with the statement that these are all a part of China's game plan. The game plan to invade Taiwan. They are doing this because China doesn't consider Taiwan as an independent nation. China believes Taiwan to be a part of China. That's why the Chinese government issued statements to either peacefully reunite with China, or else they would invade Taiwan and make it a part of their country.  Strictly speaking, the issue between China and Taiwan is an old one. But this fresh crisis involves America as well. Specifically speaking, this episode began with an American politician Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is a senior American politician and has been the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the USA since 2019.


 


The House of Representatives is basically the equivalent of the Lok Sabha. She is pretty much the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in America. She was on a tour of some countries in Asia, and for weeks, people had been speculating, whether she would visit Taiwan on her tour.


It is a major step for an American politician to officially visit Taiwan. Because that portrays that they believe Taiwan to be an independent nation. China does not like this at all. The Chinese government had warned Nancy multiple times, to prevent her from going to Taiwan. In fact, the Chinese dictator Xi Jinping had said this, “Play with fire; you'll get burned.”


He told America to honour the principle of One China. But despite this, Nancy Pelosi, decided to go to Taiwan. Actually, till the moment she landed in Taiwan, officially, this was kept a secret. Noone was aware of it. On 2nd August, late at night, he US military airplane landed in Taipei. As soon as China got to know about it, the Chinese government was furious. Nancy Pelosi going to Taiwan is very significant because over the last 25 years, she is the highest ranking government official from America to visit Taiwan.


She was welcomed with an open heart in Taiwan. Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world once, was lit up with messages welcoming Nancy. Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu greeted her and said that American solidarity with Taiwan has become even more important now.


 


As we are seeing the world face a choice between Democracy and Autocracy. The Chinese Communist Party responded strongly to it saying that if Taiwan tries to get independent in any way, the dream of independence would be crushed by the powerful force of the Chinese people. These are just empty words, because in reality, nowadays, Taiwan functions as an entirely independent country. They have a separate government, a Constitution, a military, the only thing is that the other countries do not acknowledge Taiwan much. The Chinese government was so furious with it, that within hours of this event they announced military drills. Taiwan is an island nation. It is completely separated from mainland  China. In the sea between Taiwan and China, a Median Line is drawn at the midpoint, it is a symbolic line, no one has actually drawn a line there,


but unofficially, this has been treated as the Line of Control for many years. During the military drills, China had tested several missiles by intruding on this Median Line. Several of their Navy's vessels and aircraft, reached quite close to the island of Taiwan.


 


China does the same things to India as well. It is constantly intruding on the India-China border. In response, Taiwan sent its Navy's aircraft to the Median Line to drive out the Chinese military. Four days later, the Chinese dictator Xi Jinping said that he wants a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with mainland China. This isn't the first time he said something like this, in 2019, he had given similar statements saying that reunification of Taiwan with China is inevitable.


 


Thousands of years ago, the very first settlers on Taiwanese land were the Austronesian tribals. They are believed to have come from a part of southern China. After that, the Chinese records mention the island of Taiwan in 239 AD for the first time. An emperor of the time, sent his force to explore the area. It might sound like an insignificant fact, but actually, the Chinese government refers to this fact now, to claim that it is a reason why Taiwan is a part of China now. Moving on, from 1624 to 1661, Taiwan was a Dutch colony. After that, from 1683 to 1895 China's Qing dynasty administered it. During this period, many people migrated from mainland China to this island. Most of these people were -- Chinese. They were from the Fujian province in China.


 


The descendants of these migrants are the largest demographic group in Taiwan today. The first Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1895, Japan won this war and the entire territory of Taiwan fell into Japanese administration. In 1912, the Qing dynasty was overthrown in the Xinhai Revolution in China. After which, the Republic of China was established in Mainland China. But then, Taiwan was a part of Japan, Only after World War II, after Japan's loss, they had to leave Taiwanese territory. The Allies won World War II, it included the USA, the UK, and even China. The Republic of China was then given control over the Taiwanese area. With the consent of the US and the UK. Later in February 1947, anti-government protests began in Taiwan. Chinese government carried out a vicious massacre. On 28th February 1947, thousands of civilians were killed, we can compare it to the Jalianwala Bagh massacre. It is estimated that about 18,000 to 28,000 people were killed. In Taiwanese history, this incident is known as the 2-28 incident. It is an important part of their history.


 


Over the next 2 years, there was a civil war in Mainland China. The leader at the time, Chiang Kai-Shek, was defeated by Mao Zedong's Communist Army. Chiang Kai-Shek's party KMT, Kuomintang, Chiang Kai-Shek and his supporters, about 1.5 million people, fled mainland China and went to Taiwan. This was in 1949. On the Taiwanese island, the KMT government and their supporters, established a new government it was like a Government in Exile. For the next 25 years, they formed the separate government in Taiwan, and then he was succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-Kuo. The thing was that the KMT government was used to ruling all over China before the revolution, after which the communist people like Mao Zedong came and overthrew them in Mainland China. And they were restricted to Taiwan. But because they were used to rule over the entire area, so for a long time, this Government in Exile, kept claiming that whole of China was theirs. And that one day they would reclaim all of China.


 


In the United Nations the government in Taiwan Chiang's ROC,


was considered to be the 'real' China and China's seat at the United Nations' Security Council, was given to the Taiwanese government.


And most western countries at the time, considered Taiwan to be the real Chinese government. But by the 1970s, some countries started arguing  that the Taiwanese government control only a small island and they cannot be said to represent the whole of China the hundreds of millions of people living in Mainland China cannot be controlled by a government on a small island. It was unrealistic. Then in 1971, the United Nations switched its decision. They reversed their opinion, they said that the Chinese government in Beijing, Mao Zedong's Communist government  was the real Chinese government and the ROC government in Taiwan fell out of their grace. Mao Zedong passed away in 1976, and the next Chinese ruler,


Deng Xiaoping, was a bit more open-hearted. In 1978, he brought about economic reforms in his country, China began opening up its economy to the rest of the world.


 


America believed that communism would be slowly eradicated from China


so in 1979, they officially, establish diplomatic ties with the Chinese government. The thing is that the government in mainland China, claims all of China. They claim Taiwan to be a part of China, and should be under their control. And so the other countries eventually stop recognising Taiwan. They stop seeing it as a separate country and consider it a part of China. Eventually, fewer and fewer countries recognised Taiwan as an independent country. Today, only 15 countries now consider Taiwan to be an independent country. The period between 1949 and 1987,


is known as the White Terror. More than 100,000 people were jailed for political reasons. More than 1,000 people were killed. Chinese dictator Mao Zedong on one side, killed people simply for being anti-communist,


even on the merest doubt of a person being anti-communist, the person would be killed. On the other hand, Taiwan's dictator Chiang Kai-Shek,


would crush any criticism and critic, and then labelled a communist sympathiser. Both were dictators.


One of them would kill people for being anti-communists, and the other would kill people for being a communist. But there was something in Taiwan that couldn't reach Mainland China. The growth of democracy.


After dictator Chiang Ching-Kuo passed away, in 1988, Taiwan's new President was Lee Teng-Hui. He brought about Constitutional Changes.


He is known as the Father of Democracy in Taiwan. He was done with the dictatorships and gave power to the citizens. Eventually, in 2000,


the elections were conducted and the first non-KMT President of the country was Chen Shui-Bian.


 


At the same time, there were efforts to bring democracy to China as well,


in 1989, China was so close to adopting democracy. There were thousands of students protesting on the roads; demanding freedom. But under the communist government, the Chinese military had open-fired. Thousands were arrested in an effort to suppress the revolution. Chinese government deployed tanks to stop the protests. No one is allowed to even mention this incident in China.


China proposed the One Country, Two Systems option to China wherein Taiwan would agree to be a part of China, but they can continue working independently. That they would be given significant autonomy. Taiwan rejected this offer. According to the latest surveys,  64% of the Taiwanese people identify as Taiwanese, 30.4% of people identify as Chinese and Taiwanese both, and only 2.4% of people, identify as Chinese. Fewer than 10% of people in Taiwan, want the unification of Taiwan with China.


 


In my opinion, this issue is illogical. When the ideology of both countries are so distinct from one another, with a prevalent dictatorship in one place till now and people have no freedom, and on the other hand, there's a full democracy. The current democratic rank of Taiwan is quite good. They rank 32nd in the world. And 3rd in Asia. In countries like India where the media is heavily influenced, and the other pillars of democracy aren't working as well, so much so that India is considered a Flawed Democracy.


Taiwan is now considered full democracy. America had maintained a strategic distance from both countries. In 1979, a legislation was passed in the USA, if China tries to invade Taiwan, the American forces would be deployed to help Taiwan. Over the last few years,  America's stance has been shifting more in favour of Taiwan and against China.


 


American President Joe Biden had recently said, that America believes in the One China policy. It believes that there is only one Chinese government


but despite that, if they try to forcefully invade and annex Taiwan, if the Chinese government tries to use the military to invade Taiwan, it wouldn't be right. When Biden said this, the Chinese foreign ministry replied that


Biden should stay away from their internal matter. That it is China's internal matter. For decades, Japan had maintained a distance from this China-Taiwan issue. Japan considers it to be a politically sensitive matter, and so it doesn't opine on it publicly. But in June last year, Japan's State Minister for Defence, said that they have to protect Taiwan because Taiwan is a democratic country. If China attacks Taiwan, Japan would join forces with America, to defend Taiwan. America maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan. America sells weapons to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act


so that Taiwan can defend itself but at the same time, America has also said that it does not support Taiwan's independence.


 


America's stance might sound confusing, but it is quite simple. America agrees that there is One China. It supports peaceful reunification, but if the military is used to attack Taiwan if China tries to forcibly take over Taiwan, the US will intervene with its military. But coming to Nancy Pelosi, her stance has been even more clear-cut. Nancy Pelosi went to China, she went to a monument near Tian'anmen Square, and put down a white flower as a symbol. And described the human rights mission. She unfurled a small black banner with the words "To Those Who Died For Democracy In China."  Not only this, the atrocities against the Buddhists in Tibet, against the Muslims in Uyghurs, and against the people in Hong Kong. She has remained vocal about these as well.


 


In 2018, the Chinese government passed a law, that the 2-term limit for the President be removed. This meant that Xi Jinping, could become the President for the third term. Over the last 10 years, Xi Jinping had tried to crush all his opponents. He tried to suppress everyone daring to oppose him.He introduced his ideology to the Communist Party. By using large-scale propaganda and censorship, he spread his agenda packaged as Nationalism. He has manipulated the citizens of China at his will. Despite it all, there was an economic crisis in China.


 


The Evergrande Crisis, then the coal crisis, a devastating lockdown, there has been a series of problems in China. People aren't able to withdraw money from their banks. Unemployment is rising, And there are a lot of problems with the economy of the country. And the 20th National Congress is scheduled to be held in some months. Here, Xi Jinping has to fight to get his tenure extended. To remain in power, this is an image building move,


 


The ongoing tensions between China and Taiwan, are the tensions between Xi Jinping and Taiwan. The war in Russia and Ukraine, has been managed by the other countries in some way or the other, there wasn't a devastating effect on the imports, but if the same thing happens between China and Taiwan, the dire consequences of it would be felt all over the world, the number of products exported by China and Taiwan is significantly more. Several industries all around the world rely on these two countries. India borders China. And if the US and Japan intervene with their military, it's possible that Russia starts backing China. And then Europe would have to back Japan and the US. In such a case, the scale of the war can be unprecedented, in case China takes military action against Taiwan.


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