The relationship between China and Taiwan has always been a tense one. Ever since the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, the two countries have been embroiled in a conflict that has never really ended. In recent years, this tension has been rising, and it seems like a new war is brewing in the East. So what’s behind these latest tensions? And can Taiwan defend itself from China’s military might?
What is the history between Taiwan and China?
The Taiwanese indigenous people are knowns as the Austronesian people and have lived on the Island for over 6,500 years. The nationally recognized subgroups totals over 569,000 people, roughly 2.38% of the Island’s population. The first Han Chinese settlers arrived in Taiwan in the 17th century, during the Ming dynasty. In 1683, Taiwan was annexed by Qing China and became a province of China. This lasted until 1895, when Japan defeated China in the First Sino-Japanese War and took control of Taiwan.
After Japan’s defeat in World War II, Taiwan was handed back to China in 1945. However, this led to the resumption of the Chinese Civil War between the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party). In 1949, the Communists emerged victorious and founded the People’s Republic of China. The defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established their own government, the Republic of China.
Since then, both governments have claimed to be China’s legitimate government. The Communist Party controls mainland China, while the Kuomintang controls Taiwan. This has led to a tense relationship between the two countries and resulted in both sides building their militaries.
Taiwan has scrambled fighter jets to ward off hostile Chinese aircraft.
Over the years, this conflict has flared up occasionally, but it has generally been contained. However, tensions have been on the rise again.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, 29 Chinese warplanes entered the Island’s self-declared air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
This was the third-highest number of Chinese jets entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone since the start of the year. This comes less than a month after China sent 30 warplanes on a similar mission.
The Taiwanese military responded to the Chinese jets by dispatching combat aircraft, issuing radio warnings, and deploying air defense missile systems to monitor their activities.
Taiwan has been complaining about the Chinese air force flying close to it for a while now. The Chinese air force has been doing this in the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. This is close to the Pratas islands, which Taiwan controls.
Taiwan refers to China’s repeated military activities near their country as “grey zone” warfare. This strategy is meant to exhaust Taiwan’s forces by having them repeatedly scramble and test Taiwan’s responses.
China’s military announced that it had carried out an exercise around Taiwan as a “warning” against its “collaboration” with the United States.
Joe Biden, the US president, angered China when he said that the United States would get involved if China attacked Taiwan. The US hasn’t been clear about how it would respond to such an attack.
What’s behind these latest tensions?
There are a number of factors that have led to the recent increase in tension between China and Taiwan. One is the election of Tsai Ing-wen as president of Taiwan in 2016. Tsai is from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and her election has seen a significant shift in Taiwan’s political landscape.
This has led to increased anxiety on the part of China, which sees Taiwan as a wayward province that must be brought back into the fold. In response, China has been increasingly assertive in its claims over Taiwan and has stepped up its military activity in the region.
Another factor is the growing influence of the United States in Taiwan. The United States government has been much more supportive of the Taiwan independence movement and sold its advanced weaponry. The US Navy sends warships through the Taiwan strait regularly. On May 10, the guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal made a transit. This is seen as a direct challenge to China’s regional hegemony and has increased tensions.
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe accused the United States of being a threat to peace in the region and vowed that the PLA(The People’s Liberation Army) would “fight to the very end” to stop Taiwanese independence.
So what does the future hold for China and Taiwan?
It is difficult to say. On the one hand, China is becoming increasingly assertive in its claims over Taiwan. On the other hand, Taiwan is strengthening its military capabilities and receiving more support from the United States. This suggests that the conflict between these two countries will continue and could even escalate into a full-blown war.