Red Sun: China's assault on Taiwan
Strategic relations between China and Taiwan are at their lowest point in 40 years. China views Taiwan as a province, whereas the government of Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state. The nationalist Chinese government has ruled Taiwan since 1949. Following the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-Shek, the nationalist leader, was exiled to Taiwan and formed his own government there. In the early 1980s, China devised a governmental solution that allowed Taiwan to have autonomy known as "one country, two systems."
The 2016 election of Tsai Ing-Wen escalated tensions as she campaigned for independence from China and rejected Chairman Xi's plan for reunification. As a result, the Taiwanese government is on high alert, as China has practiced air drills within Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ). This zone extends out as far as the Taiwan Strait and a large part of China's mainland. Anything crossing the unofficial line between China and Taiwanese territory is considered an incursion.
The National Chengchi University conducted a survey that found that more than 64% of citizens on the island of Taiwan identify as Taiwanese, while only 3% identify as Chinese. A similar poll from the Taiwan Center for International Strategic Studies found that 77% of Taiwanese will fight for Taiwan if China invades.
Taiwan's defense minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, warns of a Chinese invasion as the Taiwanese parliament is considering a multi-billion-dollar bill for defense spending for warships and missiles. Mr. Chiu warns that China will have the capability to mount a full-scale invasion by 2025. Taiwan's top military advisers have studied the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly the parliamentary resistance, to help develop a strategy for a possible war with China. President Tsai has been a strong advocate for "asymmetrical warfare," which is the military tactic used by Ukrainian nationalists by becoming more mobile and using stealth.
The U.S. has weighed in on China's recent actions against Taiwan. President Biden recently met with Chairman Xi on a two-hour-long teleconference. The meeting was meant to discourage the Chinese military from making rash decisions to move against Taiwan amid the ongoing war with Ukraine. Biden reiterated, "Washington continues to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo" and that there will be consequences if any action is taken.
The U.S. government adheres to the "One China" policy. It is a formal diplomatic agreement that China has only one government. In 1971, as relations with China were warming, the Nixon administration conceded that China and Taiwan were one country. In 1979, under the Carter administration, the U.S. officially established diplomatic relations with China while also signing the Taiwan Relations Act into law. The act guarantees support for Taiwan militarily and financially.
The Biden administration agreed to a second arms deal for around $95 million in missile defense systems. The U.S. Defense Security Corporation Agency (DSCA) released a statement saying the deal will include "training, planning, fielding, deployment, operation, maintenance, and sustainment of the Patriot system, associated equipment, and logistics support elements." The Chinese government released a statement of disapproval from defense ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. He states that the arms deal violates the "One China" policy and threatens China's security and stability with the Taiwan Strait. In opposition, Taiwan's military leaders have expressed gratitude to the United States for strengthening relations.
The Chinese assault on Taiwan has ramifications for the U.S. and the global market. Taiwan is the world leader in producing semiconductor chips. The U.S. Air Force Office of Commercial and Economic Analysis released a study showing that if China conquers Taiwan, it will control up to 80% of global semiconductor chips. It would put tech companies like Google and Apple and defense contractors under threat of China's control.
Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin is one of Taiwan's most prominent defenders in Washington, saying, "Taiwan isn't just a vibrant democracy under intense pressure from the CCP — they're a high-quality friend that needs our help." The assault on Taiwan may leave the democratic world order in peril.