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China and Taiwan: Will We See A Conflict In 2023?

Provocations between the People’s Republic of China and the vehemently self-ruled island nation of Taiwan have increased exponentially over the past few months. In 2022 alone, China sent 1,727 warplanes through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), a move seen by military analysts as an intentional probe of Taiwan’s defenses.


Taiwan’s ADIZ was created by the United States Armed Forces after World War II and is used for the identification, location, and control of all aircraft for the purpose of national security. China’s incursions are reported to be retaliatory measures against Taipei’s ongoing “collusion” with Western powers, specifically the U.S.


These posturings by the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) are known as “grey zone” tactics; using non-militaristic means to achieve political objectives. China’s aim in this particular instance is to exert pressure on Taiwan’s defense systems as well as  discouraging western support of Taipei.


How Taiwan Came To Be


Taiwan’s governmental body the Republic of China (ROC) was founded in mainland China in 1912. During this time, the island of Taiwan was a Japanese colony that was ceded by the Qing dynasty to Japan in concordance with the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki. After Japan’s surrender in 1945 at the end of World War II, the ROC began exercising jurisdiction over Taiwan.


In the midst of a civil war with the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, the ROC decided to relocate to Taiwan. The ROC has continued to effectively govern from Taiwan while China remains under the control of the PRC. Authorities in Beijing believe that Taiwan and its surrounding islands are an “inalienable” part of Chinese territory and that the “People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”


Taiwan’s Stance On Reunification


Taiwan has consistently stated that it will not concede its sovereignty nor will it compromise on its independence or democratic institutions. During a speech on Taiwan’s national day, President Tsai Ing-wen reiterated that war between China and Taiwan was undesireable and that she was willing to engage in talks with Beijing.


China has neglected to speak with Taiwan’s president on the grounds that she is a separatist. Beijing has proposed that Taiwan follow the autonomous model granted to Hong Kong, that of “one country, two systems”. According to opinion polls, most of the influential Taiwanese political parties have rejected the proposal.


Looking Ahead


Due to the relentlessness of China’s transgressions towards Taiwan’s independence, many can not help but draw parallels between the island nation’s situation and the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Both Taiwan and Ukraine are stalwart defenders of their democratic values and neither country is willing to sacrifice its independence for the sake of reunification.


Most experts agree however that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is not likely to happen just yet. The logistics of an amphibious invasion are complex and require a large buildup of military personnel and equipment, not to mention the enormous financial cost of funding such an operation. For now, the PRC will continue to probe Taiwan in the hopes of one-day forcing reunification with China.  

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