Imagine being in a scenario where you are forced to agree with what someone says, just to avoid conflict. However, deep down you hold a completely opposing viewpoint. The situation is far trickier when such a diplomatic stance must be adopted by one superpower during its interaction with the other.
This is exactly the approach America has been taking over the Taiwan issue to maintain civil relations with China. Despite favoring Taiwan, it has been agreeing with Chinese leaders who claim that Taiwan is still a part of their country. However, the US might not be able to play along for a very long time as there are growing concerns of a Chinese military attack on Taiwan.
If this happens, the US would have no other option but to protect Taiwan. This will be a moment of judgment for other US allies to see for themselves whether they can count on America for support in times of need and oppression or not, especially against another superpower. Therefore, the US will not be able to risk any dent in Pax Americana.
Also, supporting Taiwan will simultaneously serve as an ulterior motive of America, i.e., to prevent China from gaining additional power over the Asian region because if this happens, it will significantly impact America’s status as the most powerful country in the world.
Reason for the conflict
Taiwan is an island that has previously recognized itself as a part of China. However, now, the residents strive towards achieving independence and elect local governments that support this idea. Chinese leaders consider it their duty to ensure unification, even if it comes at the cost of war and unrest.
Up till now, the US has kept a diplomatic stance over the issue by acknowledging the Beijing government but simultaneously taking measures to prevent an attack on Taiwan. However, it might not be able to hold back the Chinese government for too long. Many analysts think that an attack on Taiwan is inevitable in near future. Even the head of Indo-Pacific Command; Admiral Phil Davidson, has shared a concern with the Congress that China might be attacking Taiwan by 2027.
Such viewpoints might be emerging because China has been observed strengthening its military powers for quite some time. A combination of 90 submarines and ships have been launched by the country’s navy only within the last 5 years. Furthermore, China currently develops more than 100 fighter planes per year. Along with these warcraft, it is loaded with a supply of precision missiles that can not only destroy Taiwan but also the vessels owned by the American Navy and the US bases in South Korea, Guam, and Japan.
Others hold the opinion that being fully aware of the massive destruction and economic loss it causes to both parties, it is highly unlikely that China would indulge in armed warfare, that too at a time when the Communist Party is stressing over stability, prosperity, and growth as its agenda to come into power.
Whatever may be the case, the entire situation is very risky and a minor tussle between Taiwan and China can escalate into a full-fledged war between two superpowers. The consequences will be gruesome for the entire world, given that we are living in a nuclear age.
Even if we were to assume for a brief moment that Taiwan does not receive US support in its war against China, consequences will still not be minimal. The world still faces a major economic loss because Taiwan forms the backbone of the international semiconductor industry. More than 80% of advanced chips used across the globe are etched by TSMC. The destruction of Taiwan would automatically affect TSMC, thus bringing the electronics industry to a halt.
Neither America nor China can match this Taiwanese expertise and it would require development with many years of work.
The US and Taiwan should therefore leave no stone unturned to avoid an armed conflict with China. The best approach for Taiwan would be to focus on strategies that may discourage invasion by the Beijing government rather than wasting resources on buying weapons that would not be able to survive Chinese missiles anyways.
The US, on the other hand, does need to invest in advanced weapons and warfare to give out a clear message that it has equally destructive technology. This would discourage China from initiating an attack on Taiwan. The US should also make it clear to the Chinese government that even though it does not support a division of their country, a forceful change in the status of Taiwan will not be encouraged. Thus, all means of preventing an armed conflict must be adopted because war is not a solution to any problem.