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Rising Tensions over Taiwan: China’s Taiwan Struggle

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The island of Taiwan is of great geopolitical importance for both China and the United States of America (USA). Although China and the United States have different reasons for attaching importance to the region, there is a common point where their goals intersect. This point is that both Washington and Beijing do not want to leave the island to a rival. This is because the island is of geostrategic importance for the US, which wants to contain China. From China’s perspective, the island is an indivisible part of China, but it is also important for both the US containment strategy and its location in the South China Sea.

At this point, it should be noted that the Taiwanese government is aware of this rivalry between the US and China and shapes its own survival strategy accordingly. As a matter of fact, Taiwan, which has close relations with the US against China, tries to balance China by using the US. In 2022, after the visit of Nancy Pelosi, the then Speaker of the US House of Representatives, official visits to Taiwan were intensified.

In addition to visits, the US cooperates with Taiwan in many other areas, including diplomacy. For example, on April 5, 2023, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that a unilateral action against Taiwan would hit all countries in the world.[1] In addition, on May 9, 2023, Blinken stated that the United States called on the WHO to allow Taiwan to participate as an observer in the annual meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) scheduled for May 21, 2023.[2]

In addition to the Washington administration, which has positive relations with Taiwan, many Western states also organize visits to Taipei from time to time. These visits, whether they are organized by the government or not, draw the reaction of the Beijing administration. For example, on December 11, 2022, Koichi Hagiuda, a senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, paid a visit to Taiwan.[3]

In addition, on 4 December 2022, a delegation of MPs, including former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, visited the island. With the news that the said visit will take place, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanaese stated that the delegation was not related to the government and that there had been visits to Taiwan at the level of parliamentarians before.[4]

Despite the statement by the Australian Prime Minister, an article published in the Chinese-owned media outlet Global Times argued that Albanese could not escape responsibility by saying that the delegation had nothing to do with the government. In the same article, it was written that even if Albanese could not prevent the delegation as Prime Minister, he should have stated that the government was against the visit.[5] As can be seen, Beijing objects to undertakings that are likely to contravene the “One China Principle”.

In addition to these visits, South Korean leader Yook Suk-yeol stated in an interview with Reuters that “The Taiwan Issue is not just a problem between China and Taiwan, but it is a global problem like the North Korea Issue.” [6] This naturally drew China’s reaction and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong conveyed to the South Korean Ambassador that Beijing was uncomfortable with the situation, calling it “completely unacceptable”.[7]

China also issued various warnings against Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States on April 5, 2023,[8] and after the visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the following:[9]

“If we want to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, we must firmly oppose the island’s independence and separatism.”

On the other hand, on May 9, 2023, former UK Prime Minister and member of parliament Liz Truss announced that she would visit Taiwan and said the following:[10]

“Taiwan is a beacon of freedom and democracy. I look forward to personally showing solidarity with the people of Taiwan in the face of the increasingly aggressive behavior and rhetoric of the regime in Beijing.”

In conclusion, the Asia-Pacific is home to many political fault lines. Perhaps the most dangerous of these is the Taiwan Question. Emerging in 1949 after the People’s Republic of China (PRC) declared its independence and deepening after the PRC took over the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council in 1971, the issue deeply affects the security of both the region and the world. The island, which the US cannot afford to lose due to the geopolitical struggle in the region, is also indispensable for China.


[1] “A Chinese Unilateral Move on Taiwan Would Hit ‘Literally Every Country on Earth,’ Blinken Warns”, Euronews, www.euronews.com/my-europe/2023/04/05/chinese-unilateral-action-on-taiwan-would-hit-literally-every-country-on-earth-blinken-war, (Date of Accession: 05.04.2023).

[2] “US Urges WHO to Invite Taiwan to Observe May Meeting”, Reuters, www.reuters.com/world/us-wants-who-invite-taiwan-observe-may-meeting-blinken-2023-05-09/, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[3] “Japan MP in Taiwan Says ‘China threat’ Needs More Military Spending”, Pars Today, parstoday.com/en/news/world-i190678-japan_mp_in_taiwan_says_china_threat’_needs_more_military_spending, (Date of Accession:11.12.2022).

[4] “Government and Opposition MPs to Visit Taiwan as Part of Australian Parliamentary Delegation”, ABC News, www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-03/australian-mps-to-visit-taiwan-parliamentary-delegation/101730950, (Date of Accession: 03.12.2022).

[5] “Albanese Criticized for Insincerity on Improving Ties with Beijing Amid His Attempts to Distance Himself from Taiwan-Visiting Delegation”, Global Times, www.globaltimes.cn/page/202212/1281102.shtml, (Date of Accession: 04.12.2022).

[6] “China Lodges Complaint over S Korean President’s Taiwan Comments”, Aljazeera, www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/23/china-lodges-complaint-over-s-korean-presidents-taiwan-comments, (Date of Accession: 23.04.2023).

[7] Ibid.

[8] John Ruwitch-Emily Feng, “Taiwan’s President Tsai Meets Kevin McCarthy Despite China’s Warnings”, www.npr.org/2023/04/05/1167872114/kevin-mccarthy-taiwan-president-tsai-meeting-california-china, (Date of Accession: 05.04.2023):

[9] “China Warns Against Taiwan Independence As It Ends Military Drill”, Aljazeera, www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/10/china-to-stage-live-fire-drills-around-taiwan-for-third-day, (Date of Accession: 10.04.2023).

[10] Ben Quinn vd., “Liz Truss to Visit Taiwan and Give Speech That Could Upset UK’s China Strategy”, The Guardian, www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/may/09/liz-truss-to-visit-taiwan-and-give-speech-that-could-upset-uks-china-strategy, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

Elcan TOKMAK
Elcan TOKMAK
Elcan TOKMAK, 2022 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden mezun olmuştur. Eylül-Aralık 2022 tarihleri arasında ANKASAM bünyesinde Kariyer Staj Programı'nı tamamlayan Tokmak, Temmuz 2023 tarihinden itibaren ANKASAM Asya-Pasifik Araştırma Asistanı olarak çalışmalarını sürdürmektedir. Şu anda Hacettepe Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nde Yüksek Lisans eğitimine devam eden Tokmak'ın ilgi alanları Çin-Japonya-Kore ilişkileri ve Çin Dış Politikası'dır. Tokmak; profesyonel düzeyde İngilizce, orta derecede Çince ve başlangıç düzeyinde Korece bilmektedir.