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China and Taiwan in a Game of Cat and Mouse

By: Chenwei Ren

China is speculated to be developing an attack on Taiwan since last Sunday, but the US is watching very closely. Mainland China has wanted to reclaim Taiwan since they were divided during a civil war from 1927-1949.

China and Taiwan have always been in a tight conflict since the 1950s when tensions rose between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC). The split between the two happened after World War II, when there was a disagreement in mainland China between nationalist government forces and the Chinese Communitst Party. The communists won in 1949, as their leader, Mao Zedong, took control in Beijing. Meanwhile, the nationalist party, or Kuomintang, fled to the nearby island of Taiwan.

Till this day, China’s President, Xi Jinping, still believes and states that the “reunification” with Taiwan “must be fulfilled,” and will use force, if necessary.

It has caught many’s attention earlier this year when China sent multiple warplanes to Taiwan’s air defense zone, and in return the US has sent naval ships through Taiwan’s waters. In May, President Joe Biden vowed to protect Taiwan militarily if it was attacked. In response, China only stated the US is interfering in China’s affairs and added the country would not hesitate to fight to prevent Taiwan from formally declaring independence.

Gin Melly, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, says “could, should, and would” are keywords of China’s potential attack on Taiwan. "In terms of capability I think China clearly is developing a capability. President Xi [Jinping] has mentioned that in public forums, he's mentioned it in speeches, that he has challenged the PLA [China's People's Liberation Army] to develop the capability to attack Taiwan at some point in time. There's no indications or warnings of anything imminent at this time. But again, we watch it very, very closely," Gen Milley added.

One major fear is that war might be triggered if China invades Taiwan, and piling onto the Russia-Ukraine situation. Fortunately, most analysts say this is not likely - for now.

Debates have been held over whether China would risk and invade Taiwan as it’s considerably, ramping up its air and sea defenses. However, it is acknowledged that Beijing also recognizes the cost of such a move and it would be disastrous not only for China, but for the rest of the world.

Most Taiwanese support their current position, which is known as "maintaining the status quo," though an increasingly small number say they want to move toward independence. Similarly, the US is hesitant to be drawn into a costly military conflict in Asia, and has signaled repeatedly that they do not want war.

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