Taiwan – A new conflict zone?

Taiwan – A new conflict zone?

News: The visit by US speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan is not being well received by China. It has sparked intense tensions between the two powerful countries- China and US as China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.

About Taiwan:
• Previously known as Formosa, Taiwan is a tiny island off the east coast of China, separated from mainland China by the Taiwan Strait. It’s part of what’s called the first Island Chain – a string of islands nations, including Japan, South Korea and Philippines that are seen as pro-US.
• Much of the world’s global supply chain of semiconductors is reliant on Taiwan.
• Further, its contract manufacturers together accounted for more than 60% of total global semiconductor revenue in 2021.
• According to the World Population review, around 13 countries recognize Taiwan as a country. They are Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Vatican City, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Tuvalu.

Why Taiwan matters to China?
• Chinese and Taiwan economies are interdependent on each other.
• China is Taiwan’s biggest export partner, with an export value of 515 billion dollars from 2017 to 2022, more than double the US, which was the next biggest partner.
• Taiwan is much closer to mainland China than the other islands, and has been claimed by Beijing since Nationalists were driven there during the Chinese revolution in 1949.
• Some have seen Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a potential catalyst for a China-Taiwan conflict

Significance of Taiwan for the USA:
• Taiwan anchors a chain of islands which includes a list of US-friendly territories that the US is planning to use as a place of leverage for countering China’s expansionist plans.
• The United States does not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is bound by US law (Taiwan Relations Act, 1979) to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
• It is by far the largest arms dealer for Taiwan and follows a ‘strategic ambiguity’ policy.

What is the First Island Chain?
• The First Island Chain comprises the Kuril Islands, the Japanese Archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, northwest Philippines and ending at Borneo.
• This chain is also the first line of defence and serves as the maritime boundaries between the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.
• In this chain are located the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait which are critical chokepoints for China.
• China’s maritime strategy, or the “Island Chain Strategy,” is a geographical security concept crafted by the United States in the 1940s to deter China and the Soviet Union’s maritime ambitions.

What is the One China principle and One China Policy?

One China PrincipleOne China Policy
The People's Republic of China follows the One China Principle, a core belief that sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, with its sole legitimate government in Beijing.The US follows the One China Policy which means that
The People’s Republic of China was and is the only China, with no recognition for the Republic of China (Taiwan), as a separate sovereign entity.
The US acknowledges this position but not necessarily validates it.The US refuses to give in to the PRC’s demands torecognize China’s sovereignty over Taiwan.

What about India’s stand?
• India and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations but since 1995, both sides have maintained representative offices in each other’s capitals that function as de facto embassies.
• Since 1949, India has accepted the One China policy that accepts Taiwan and Tibet as part of China.
• However, India uses the policy to make a diplomatic point, i.e. if India believes in “One China” policy, China should also believe in a “One India” policy.
• Even though India has stopped mentioning its adherence to One China policy in joint statements and official documents since 2010, its engagement with Taiwan is still restricted due to the framework of ties with China.

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