By: A. Melcon
Taiwan, roughly located 100 miles from the coast of south east China, first came under China's control in the 17th century. They lost the territory to Japan in the first Sino Japanese war but regained it after World War 2. However, a civil war which erupted in China led the leaders of the nationalist party to flee to Taiwan once the communists took over. Therefore, whilst Chinese leaders use history to prove that Taiwan was originally a Chinese province, people in Taiwan use this very fact against them, debating that Taiwan was never a part of the modern Chinese state, the Peoples Republic of China, formed under Mao Zedong in 1949.
Currently, relations between China and Taiwan have been getting worse, especially as China is practicing military drills on six danger zones around Taiwan, and China seems to be militarily prepared to invade Taiwan. Taiwan on the other hand, being a small nation, has only a total of 169,000 total armed forces compared to Chinas 2,035,000. However, experts from the west have predicted that using arms, which the USA sells to Taiwan, and planning Guerilla attacks, Taiwan could stand a fair chance.
As the leaders of China observe how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is playing out, it is not difficult to see how they could be somewhat encouraged to consider beginning their invasion of Taiwan soon. Despite Russia receiving warnings and many economic sanctions, it has proved that no nation or organization is willing to confront the country directly by getting militarily involved out of fear of spiraling the conflict into a world war. In China’s case, due to the USA’s “one-China” policy in which they only have diplomatic relations with China, and not Taiwan, this could potentially work even more to Chinas benefit, as they have a greater possibility of not being stopped by the UN or powerful nations.
However, it is possible to interpret some other possibilities of the lessons Xi Jinping is learning from the Ukraine war. Thinking optimistically, one can recognize the possibility of the way in which the Russian military, which is far greater than the Ukrainian one, not managing to fully annex the country has demonstrated the power of the people and their resistance and may demotivate China from investing in an invasion that could eventually drag on and be extremely costly, especially as a military defeat could threaten its reputation. Moreover, the hard economic sanctions that the world is witnessing Russia having to face may also lead to less possibilities of China invading Taiwan, as Chinese citizens may have to suffer shortages of many required resources.
On the other hand, it is also entirely possible that some aspects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict could make the possibility of China invading Taiwan successfully more possible. Firstly, Chinas leaders might have noticed that a possible reason for how the Russian military is taking so long to fully take control of Ukraine is that fact that they did not all go in at once, making a strong attack. From this, China may learn it is best to go all in and overwhelm Taiwan for better overall effects, so that resistance collapses more easily. Additionally, China may also learn that policing the supply routes to Taiwan to cut off the resupply of resources would help them be able to annex the country more rapidly and easily, as they would cut off any aid from other countries or organizations. Finally, the fact that no country has directly confronted Russia for invading Ukraine, and no military sanctions have been issued, will perhaps make a Chinese invasion of Taiwan more likely, since Biden has previously stated that the United States is not interested in military confrontation with another nuclear power over a nation which is not an eminent USA ally.