By Aditya Vashisht
The Chinese have made headlines with their record incursions into the Taiwanese airspace. These haven’t gone un-noticed and have sought to increase the fears of many that this is a part of a long list of preludes by the Chinese for an invasion. The Taiwanese have strongly condemned these intimidation tactics, and were seen scrambling for fighter jets. The United States as usual, has expressed grave concern over the situation, at a time when its National Security Adviser is going to meet a top Chinese diplomat. France has also made a move through a visit of its senators to the island.
China has adopted an aggressive as well as an intimidating approach which has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be it introducing the National Security Law which has made it the virtual master of Hong Kong or the periodical alteration of its borders with India, the Chinese are showing their neighbors that who is the boss and to the world that a new power has arisen in the Eastern hemisphere. This approach has been extended towards Taiwan also, the island which was broken away from the Communist mainland by Chiang-Kai Shek. Regular air raids into it air space, clamping down on pro-Taiwan narrative and blocking Taiwan’s attempts to become a part of international bodies are an integral part of China’s policy towards Taiwan. Chinese officials haven’t shied from openly condemning Taiwan as a break-away province, with the Chinese defence ministry predicting an invasion as early as 2025.
But Taiwan isn’t Hong Kong which can be captured just by a single stroke of law. A policy of intimidation and a lookout for the right opportunity is the preferred policy. But the question is: will that opportunity arrive sooner or later or rather; if it will really arrive?
The Afghan withdrawal has led to the shift of attention towards the Indo-Pacific and this means that this region has also become the standard through which the international clout of a country can be gauged. As the Americans gear up to counter the Chinese, Taiwan is a hotly contested issue and any military move is likely to invite repercussions. The invigorated attention which is being received by the Indo-Pacific is likely to involve a show of solidarity towards the Taiwanese and unlike the War on Terror; this seems to have the backing of the West. There were speculations of a rupture between the USA and France, but the visit of French senators isn’t just a move from France but from the whole of West. The visit may also signal a rapprochement between the two Western powers after the tensions regarding the AUKUS pact. So, the Chinese are facing a united opponent when it comes to the issue of Taiwan.
Moreover, in order to ensure a successful capture, the Chinese need to have friendly states around them. But their activities in the past have ensured that its relationship with many states surrounding it is anything but friendly. Ties are soured with Japan, many nations in South-East Asia are disgruntled by Chinese activities in the South China Sea and neighbouring North Korea seeks to maintain a neutral approach, which includes the courting of both the Chinese and Americans on an equal footing, the difference being of kind and not of degree. This atmosphere isn’t conducive if China wants to capture Taiwan, not to mention that the Taiwanese have some gunpowder which makes them a tough fish to catch.
To add another point, one must see the changing global landscape, which is increasingly turning towards multipolarity. Gone are the days of the Cold War when two states controlled the affairs of the whole world. Today, there are many states which are capable of mounting challenges to some extent, ranging from India in Asia to Mexico in Latin America. It is also in this multipolarity that Taiwan shall remain alive. Domination as well as bipolarity doesn’t bode well, since the former may lead to its demise and the latter can cause it to remain on a heightened level of alertness, which can damage its overall development. Thus, a multipolar world offers the prospects of an amenable living for Taiwan, and acts as deterrence for the expected invasion.
To conclude, the above points can also show that these tactics may be an attempt to gain attention and to keep the up the ante of the momentum which surrounds these tensions, since it’s through competition that Communist China lives and seeks to thrive. Nevertheless, the future may be replete with threats from the dragon which can be retaliated.
(Author is student and blogger based in Lucknow. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at email@example.com)