Recently, a statement by the United States President suggested that any attempt by China to invade Taiwan would attract American military intervention.
- Taiwan, earlier known as Formosa, a tiny island off the east coast of China.
- It is where Chinese republicans of the Kuomintang government retreated after the 1949 victory of the communists — and it has since continued as the Republic of China(ROC).
- Taiwan sees itself as a de jure sovereign state but it is largely unrecognised by other countries. Just 15 countries around the world recognise Taiwan. Most are very small, many are remote island nations.
- The RoC was declared on December 29, 1911 and it became the non-communist frontier against China during the Cold War.
- Since its founding in 1949, the PRC has believed that Taiwan must be reunified with the mainland, while the RoC has held out as an “independent” country.
Cold war affiliations:
- Meanwhile, the ROC retained its membership at the United Nations and its permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC).
- The cross-strait relations became strained as a result of the Cold War, with the PRC allying itself with the Soviet Union (USSR) and ROC with the U.S.
- This resulted in the two Taiwan Strait crises of the 1950s.
The US and One-China Principle
- With the shifting geopolitics of the Cold War, the PRC and the U.S. were forced to come together in the 1970s to counter the growing influence of the USSR.
- This led to the US-China rapprochement demonstrated by the historic visit of then US President Richard Nixon to PRC in 1972.
- The same year, the PRC displaced ROC as the official representative of the Chinese nation at the UN.
- Diplomatic relations with the PRC became possible only if countries abided by its “One China Principle” — recognizing PRC and not the ROC as China.
- US stance: It maintained that there is one China and Taiwan is a part of China. However, the US also established unofficial relations with Taiwan through this communique in the name of the people of both the countries.
Why is China so obsessed with Taiwan?
- Taiwan is at China’s geostrategic calculus.
- Moreover, its reunification will formally bury the remaining ghosts of China’s “century of humiliation”.
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