Taiwanese demonstrators staging a pro-Ukrainian "die-in" protest in Taipei, April 2022. Reuters / I-Hwa Cheng

Beyond Europe, the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being felt most keenly 5,000 miles away, on the island of Taiwan. Many Taiwanese worry that they might be the next to suffer an invasion by a more powerful neighbor. Those fears are not unreasonable. While Ukraine and Taiwan differ in many ways, as relatively young democracies living alongside larger authoritarian neighbors with long-standing designs on their territory, the two face strikingly similar strategic predicaments.

Much as Russian President Vladimir Putin has described restoring the “historical unity” between Russia and Ukraine as a kind of spiritual mission, Chinese President Xi Jinping believes that reuniting mainland China with what he views as its lost province of Taiwan will help cement his place in history.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters in Taipei, Taiwan, rally in support of the Ukrainian people on April 17. (Ritchie B Tongo/EPA-EFE)

Chinese President Xi Jinping is watching his friend Russian President Vladimir Putin fumble Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and learning from Putin’s errors, senior U.S. military officials believe. And if China should ever decide to attack Taiwan, Xi will surely apply the lessons he has learned — which means we in the West must also quickly adjust our plans for Taiwan’s defense.

The Chinese government insists that the Ukraine and Taiwan situations are different and that China has no plans to attack the island it claims as its own. But the Taiwanese government correctly recognizes the overwhelming similarity between its situation and that of Ukraine: Both are small democracies menaced by aggressive, nuclear-armed dictatorships threatening to wipe them off the map.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwanese Air Force pilots leave after President Tsai Ing-wen delivered a speech at a military base in Hsinchu, Taiwan, on April 1. SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

In September 2020, Richard Haass and David Sacks reignited a debate over providing a formal U.S. security guarantee to Taiwan, ending decades of strategic ambiguity regarding U.S. intentions. They reiterated their support for “strategic clarity”—“to make explicit to China that the United States would respond to an attack against Taiwan with … severe economic sanctions and military force”—in late 2021, two months before Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine.

Following the invasion, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued, “The time has come for the U.S. to make clear that it will defend Taiwan against any attempted Chinese invasion”. Similarly citing the Russia-Ukraine war example, Eric Edelman and Franklin Miller lobbied for “a clearly stated U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwan's Ta Chiang vessel, a domestically produced Tuo Chiang-class corvette, fires off flares during a drill on the seas off the northern Taiwanese city of Keelung on Jan. 7. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

As Russia edges toward a full-scale invasion, U.S. thinking is understandably focused on Ukraine. But spare a thought for how Chinese President Xi Jinping might emulate his Russian counterpart’s strategy. While there is much debate in Washington about a bolt-from-the-blue Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Beijing may instead generate a political-military crisis by threatening to use force. If the United States wants to avoid being caught flat-footed, it needs to begin preparing today.

Beijing’s goal is to force Taiwan to meet its political demands—the acceptance of Chinese control over the island—while preventing the United States from standing in the way. While it could invade Taiwan to achieve this outcome, it does not necessarily need to do so.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lithuania tests the EU’s resolve on Chinese economic coercion

The name of a small office at the top of a drab skyscraper in the centre of Vilnius has set off a geopolitical firestorm that threatens billions of dollars in trade.

This is the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, a diplomatic outpost so new that the chief of mission’s business cards still carry the address of his previous posting in Latvia.

At issue is the fact that the name of the mission explicitly refers to the disputed island of Taiwan — and not, as is more common, its capital city of Taipei. To Eric Huang, who heads up the office, this makes complete sense.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April 2019 in Beijing. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool/Getty Images)

What makes a nation-state? That question is not just the stuff of esoteric academic debates. It lies at the heart of two of the most dangerous military confrontations in the world. Russia might be on the brink of a wider invasion of Ukraine because its president, Vladimir Putin, doesn’t accept Ukraine’s sovereignty, while China might someday find itself at war with Taiwan because its president, Xi Jinping, doesn’t accept Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Putin actually said in 2008 “that Ukraine is not even a state,” and in July he published a lengthy article making the case that “that Russians and Ukrainians were one people — a single whole.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Hay dos peligrosos puntos calientes en Europa y Asia que pueden llevar a Estados Unidos, Rusia y China a un conflicto abierto. Las crisis por Ucrania y Taiwán admiten solución, pero todas las partes deben respetar los legítimos intereses de seguridad de las otras. La base para una desescalada duradera de las tensiones es reconocer esos intereses en forma objetiva.

Tomemos el caso de Ucrania. Aunque su derecho a la soberanía y a la seguridad contra una invasión rusa es indudable, no tiene derecho a debilitar la seguridad de Rusia en el proceso.

La crisis actual por Ucrania es resultado de excesos de Rusia y de Estados Unidos.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 1 de septiembre de 1939, Adolf Hitler tomó una decisión que le costó la vida y la destrucción de Alemania: invadir Polonia e iniciar la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Francia e Inglaterra tuvieron claro que la ocupación desbordaba todos los límites de un dominio nazi sobre el continente europeo. Y no estaban dispuestos a admitirlo.

Ahora suenan tambores de guerra en el estrecho de Taiwán, que separa el continente asiático 180 kilómetros de la antigua isla de Formosa. Un estrecho que es la vía de comunicación que une el mar de la China Meridional con el mar de la China Oriental.…  Seguir leyendo »

What Taiwan Really Wants

It started with an innocuous question from a town hall audience: A student asked President Biden whether he would vow to protect Taiwan from China.

Mr. Biden’s response — a quick “yes,” then “yes” again when pressed by a CNN anchor — was instant breaking news globally. The White House almost immediately moved to walk back the comments.

The foreign policy kerfuffle was brief but underscored the high stakes when it comes to Taiwan.

Relations between China and Taiwan are at their worst point in decades. Military provocations are rising: Record numbers of Chinese warplanes have crossed into Taiwan’s air defense zone in recent weeks, a stark reminder of Beijing’s desire to absorb Taiwan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two J-11 fighter jets and a H-6K bomber fly in formation on May 11, 2018. Shortly thereafter, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force conducted patrol training over China’s Island of Taiwan. LI GANG / XINHUA / Xinhua via AFP

What is happening?

The first days of October brought a significant spike in Chinese military aircraft entering into the south west corner of Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).  The number of such aircraft in the ADIZ broke records three times, on Friday 1 October with 38 planes, Saturday 2 October 39 planes and Monday 4 October 56 planes. Prior to this streak, the record for the largest number of Chinese military planes to enter Taiwan’s ADIZ in one day was set on 15 June 2021, when 28 entered.

The area that the planes flew through is not Taiwan’s territorial air space, which starts twelve nautical miles from its coast.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘There is no rational scenario in which the United States could end up in a better, more secure place after a war with China. ‘ Photograph: Taiwan Ministry Of National Defense/EPA

Since last Friday, the People’s Republic of China has launched a total of 155 warplanes – the most ever over four consecutive days – into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone; Ned Price said the state department was “very concerned”. There have been more than 500 such flights through nine months this year, as opposed to 300 all of last year.

Before war comes to the Indo-Pacific and Washington faces pressure to fight a potentially existential war, American policymakers must face the cold, hard reality that fighting China over Taiwan risks an almost-certain military defeat – and gambles we won’t stumble into a nuclear war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Japanese leaders in 2021 have made an unusual series of high-profile statements and comments concerning Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait. These appeared to crescendo last month, when global headlines asserted that July 5 remarks by Japan’s deputy prime minister meant “Japan pledges to defend Taiwan if China attacks” or marked a fundamental change in Japanese policy.

Given increasing U.S.-China frictions and tensions across the Taiwan Strait, the unusually blunt remarks regarding Taiwan from a cabinet minister of Japan — a key U.S. treaty ally, close neighbor of Taiwan and host to about 50,000 U.S. military personnel — attracted significant global attention.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Estaría dispuesto Estados Unidos a arriesgarse a una catastrófica guerra con la República Popular China (RPC) para proteger a la República de China (RC), más conocida como Taiwán? El presidente Joe Biden presentó su visión con claridad la semana pasada. Entiende la rivalidad entre la RPC y EE. UU. como un conflicto mundial entre la democracia y la autocracia (y la RC es, indudablemente, una de las democracias asiáticas más exitosas).

En 1954 el presidente Dwight D. Eisenhower amenazó con usar armas nucleares luego de que China bombardeara un islote rocoso cerca de la costa de Taiwán, cuando la RC todavía era una dictadura militar.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company office in Tainan, Taiwan. Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union perpetually threatened to spark conflict in nations all over the world, including battles over the control of a vast array of natural and industrial resources. The new Cold War, between the United States and China, is increasingly focused on access to just one industry in one place: computer chips made in Taiwan.

Over the past year, Taiwan has taken a lead in the race to build thinner, faster and more powerful chips, or semiconductors. Its fastest chips are the critical building blocks of rapidly evolving digital industries like artificial intelligence and high-speed computing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lawmakers fight during a parliamentary session in Taipei, Taiwan, on Nov. 27, by throwing punches and pig guts at each other over a policy that would allow imports of U.S. pork and beef. (FTV/AP)

“Pig guts fly in offal fight over meat imports in Taiwan’s parliament” — The Guardian

“Pig intestines fly as Taiwan lawmakers engage in ham-fisted political attacks” — The Washington Post

It was a headline writer’s dream: On Nov. 27, legislators from Taiwan’s opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), protested a speech by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) premier by hurling pork innards inside the legislative chamber. The apparent cause of the fracas was the DPP government’s decision to lift restrictions on meat imports from the United States, where many farmers use the controversial chemical ractopamine to grow leaner pork.

The issues at stake are important, but they’re not why the incident became global news.…  Seguir leyendo »

La visite à Taiwan fin août de M. Milos Vystrcil, président du Sénat de la République tchèque, a été saluée par le secrétaire d’Etat américain, Mike Pompeo, et fermement soutenue par 70 députés européens, américains, allemands, français et d’autres pays démocratiques qui ont publié une déclaration commune en ce sens. Des dirigeants politiques de l’Union européenne, mais aussi de l’Allemagne, de la France, de la Slovaquie etc., se sont aussi prononcés pour condamner ouvertement les propos menaçants du régime communiste chinois via son chef de la diplomatie, Wang Yi, contre la Tchéquie, déclarant que celle-ci allait «payer un lourd tribut».…  Seguir leyendo »

China aseguró recientemente que la línea media del Estrecho de Taiwán, reconocida oficiosamente por ambas partes desde hace décadas para prevenir conflictos con la isla de Formosa, es una quimera; en paralelo, tras la reciente visita a Taipéi del funcionario de mayor rango del Departamento de Estado de EE UU en cuatro décadas, el Ejército Popular de Liberación publicitaba un vídeo simulando un ataque a lo que parece ser la base aérea Andersen en Guam. Por su parte, la líder taiwanesa Tsai Ing-wen aseguraba desde la base aérea de Magong, en Penghu, que las importantes grietas surgidas en el statu quo consolidado tras el fin de la larga guerra civil china elevan a ámbar el semáforo de la estabilidad en la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

The national security law that China passed last week is scary for many reasons: It severely limits free speech in Hong Kong, which had been a fixture of life for decades; it allows the authorities to take suspects from Hong Kong and try them in mainland China, where people such as the recently detained writer and law professor Xu Zhangrun are prosecuted for simply expressing their opinions; it establishes a secret police structure in Hong Kong that will operate outside of the law. And in threatening to arrest anyone who advocates Hong Kong’s independence, the law seems to assert jurisdiction over every person on the planet.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde que la dinastía Qin incorporó la región de Hong Kong a China en el año 214 antes de Cristo, la ciudad ha sido una posesión imperial. Durante la mayor parte de su historia, fue una mancha remota e insignificante en el mapa de sucesivos imperios chinos. Hasta que, en 1842, el imperio británico se la arrebató al emperador manchú Qing. Luego, en 1997, el territorio se convirtió en Región Autónoma Especial del imperio informal chino gobernado por el Partido Comunista.

Taiwán también tiene una larga historia imperial; perteneció en distintas épocas a varios emperadores chinos, a Holanda y España en el siglo XVII, a Japón entre 1895 y 1945 y, desde ese año, a los nacionalistas chinos exiliados que afirmaban ser los gobernantes legítimos de China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crowds at the Vroesepark in Rotterdam over the weekend. Photograph: Barcroft Media/via Getty Images

The whole world has been struggling to contain the coronavirus and “flatten the curve”, but Taiwan has had no curve. Out of a population of 24 million, only 440 people have tested positive for Covid-19, and there have been just seven deaths. Compare that with the Netherlands: while it is similar in size to Taiwan with a population of 17 million, well over 5,000 lives have been lost to the virus.

What has made the difference? Clearly, the Netherlands is not an island that could cut itself off from the rest of world, lock down completely and thus contain the disease.…  Seguir leyendo »