The recent election of Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen to the presidency of Taiwan is causing politicians in China to harden their stance against the pro-independence movement. The official policy of China does not recognize an independent nation of Taiwan and considers the island to still be part of China.
The election was held on January 16 and Tsai Ing-wen won the election with 56% of the vote. Even before the president was sworn in, a social media campaign originating in China was already bombarding Facebook with what CNN calls “hostile messages.”
Official China television broadcast video and pictures of military exercises in the Taiwan Strait while dismissing the allegation that the Facebook campaign was condoned by the state. It would be difficult for China to admit that it was using social media, since Facebook is banned from China.
Standing Up For Self-Determination
Taiwan responded to the military drills by holding their own in the same area, days later. This signals a willingness by the newly elected government to defend their independence against a strengthening China that seeks to exert her power in the South China Sea. This stance has led to hardened oratory from China.
“We have promised that ‘Chinese people will never fight Chinese people,’” said Luo Yuan, a retired PLA (People’s Liberation Army) general, but if “‘Taiwan’s separatist’ forces continue to press us into a corner, we will be left with no choice but to seek ‘reunification by force.’” “Unification means peace and independence means war,” he continued.
Harsh rhetoric notwithstanding, Taiwanese independence would be a severe blow to Chinese prestige in the area. Over the last few years, China has shown a willingness to put its national interests over international law and the rights of its neighbors.
The United States is Involved
Whether the United States has a formal alliance with Taiwan is immaterial. As recently as 1996, the U.S. has stepped in when China threatened the island. During the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, President Clinton ordered two carrier battle groups (CBG) into the region. The USS Nimitz CBG transited the Taiwan Straits while the USS Independence CBG stood guard.
The Chinese military has been built up and modernized since then with the addition of dozens of warships, better submarines and the development of area denial weaponry including ‘carrier killing’ missiles. Sending a nuclear carrier battle group through the Taiwan Strait, at this point, would be reckless.
Defending Taiwan and guaranteeing the island’s independence is a problem that needs to be addressed both politically and militarily. Asian countries are already seeing a weakening of American resolve in the Western Pacific. If that trend is not reversed, it will be impossible to maintain an independent Taiwan and keep other nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines from falling under the domination of China.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.