According to a non-governmental organization, the upcoming presidential election in Taiwan presents an opportunity for renewed communication between Taipei and Beijing. This could potentially decrease tension and mitigate the risk of conflict.
According to a report from the International Crisis Group, while a war regarding Taiwan is not certain, the current path being taken is risky.
The current situation in Taiwan is seen as the highest likelihood for conflict between China and the US, with the US being Taiwan’s biggest ally. The report suggests that all parties should take a step back, clearly state their stances, and work towards rebuilding trust.
The Chinese government, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, views Taiwan as a part of China and maintains that it will be “reunited”. It aims to accomplish this through nonviolent methods, but has not excluded the use of force.
The Taiwanese government, headed by Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progress party, asserts that Taiwan is an independent country and its citizens strongly oppose the idea of being under Chinese rule. Instead, they prefer the complex but peaceful current situation. A recent survey conducted by Taiwan’s mainland affairs council revealed that 85.3% of the population opposes China’s suggestion of “one country, two systems”.
In 2016, Beijing ceased all communication with Taipei when Tsai was elected due to the DPP’s stance. As a result, Beijing has worked to intensify Taiwan’s global isolation and impose economic penalties, causing Taiwanese resistance to the idea of unification to grow stronger. This has led to a potentially hazardous stalemate between the two sides.
Tsai is expected to leave her position in early 2022 after completing her second and last term. According to the report, this transition could offer a chance to restart communication between Taiwan and mainland China. If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins the upcoming election, the report suggests that both parties should work towards finding a mutually agreeable solution for their cross-strait relationship, taking into consideration that the opposing Kuomintang (KMT) party already has an established understanding with Beijing.
If this were too much of a stretch during ongoing conflicts, a future DPP administration may find alternative opportunities to resume communication as a way to entice Beijing, in exchange for a decrease in financial, military, and governmental tensions. Simultaneously, Taiwan must enhance its defenses to demonstrate that China will face consequences if it attempts to invade.
The city of Beijing has escalated its aggressive and forceful behavior towards Taiwan, such as practicing a potential assault on the country, launching cyber-attacks, and significantly increasing the number of incursions by its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into Taiwan’s airspace. The defense ministry of Taiwan stated on Monday that PLA planes had conducted various maneuvers, including surrounding the main island.
The report highlights the role of the US in reducing tensions by supplying weapons to Taiwan for their self-defense and increasing their vocal support. It also mentions high-level meetings between officials and US politicians who are using increasingly hawkish views for political gain. The report suggests that the recent actions of Washington may be contributing to a higher likelihood of conflict.
According to a report from the senior China analyst at the International Crisis Group, Amanda Hsiao, the chances of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the near future are slim, but the potential for conflict is increasing.
Rebuilding trust between the involved parties is essential in managing this situation. The United States needs to provide reassurance to China that they do not intend to permanently keep Taiwan separated from the mainland. Taiwan needs to provide reassurance to China that they do not seek formal independence. China needs to provide reassurance to both the United States and Taiwan that they have no plans to unify with Taiwan through military force.
Further investigation conducted by Chi Hui Lin