Taiwan Dilemma: Challenges in the Pacific Region.
The article analyses Taiwan-China tensions ascending as the US speaker of the House of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and threatening Chinese force posture.
By Hitendra Boradey
The geopolitical arena recently witnessed a major crisis in the East China Sea that could have escalated into a military offensive between the two world power. No sooner had the Ukraine crises started giving indications of entering a phase of status quo than tensions merged in Taiwan straits with the visit of the US senator and threatening Chinese force posture.
Tensions are all set to build-up in the East China Sea due to Taiwan-China tensions ascending after the US speaker of the House of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the Taiwan island irked China. Taiwan will surely have a tough time in the coming days vis-à-vis its national sovereignty and national defence against the PLA. While the tense situation is building up in the region, it brings grave concerns for Taiwan and the entire region as this region encompasses the trade route of the globe. China is highly ambitious and headed towards controlling the entire South and the East China Sea. China will surely resent any major developments that oppose its goals. So, like the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the region will witness the crisis at least partially, if not entirely.
Geopolitically, the region is of strategic importance to China. Major trade activities are materialised through the sea route across the globe, particularly transportation of energy from the west to the east of the globe. European markets are the primary receiver of goods from Chinese manufacturing units; therefore, it has a significant share of the economy in the EU economic vertical. According to the report of the Association of the Accredited Public Policy Advocates to the European Union, the region of China Sea holds 220milllion barrels of oil, in addition to this, 15% of the worlds fishery trade passes through this region across the globe. The sea route accounts for 80% of global trade by volume and 70% by value. US trade values $1.2 trillion , and China’s major energy flow occurs through this route. Therefore, China certainly aims to bring the region under its control as the trade routes on the sea are a major factor for the economies of the nations in the region and Europe, Africa, and the West Asian region. So, the importance of the Sea for China is exactly what Walter Raleigh said: “Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world; and consequently, the world itself.”
Taiwan is situated in the Pacific Ocean and holds the China Sea region, both the South and the East Sea. China being an autocratic nation with its expansionist policy at the vertex vis-à-vis its neighbourhood, is firmly advancing towards Taiwan to acquire the island nation, as Beijing's approach is ‘One-China principle. Taiwan identifying itself as a democratic nation has attracted the US to strengthen its cooperation with Taiwan. The visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan has angered China, and the reaction to this is missile drills and aggressive Chinese military exercises encircling Taiwan and the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is of strategic interest to Japan. Certainly, these developments have put the region on the verge of a similar situation to that of the Ukraine crisis in the West. With this tense situation, the major concern is to the supply chain, trade sector that will impact the business web across the globe because if the crisis escalates, it will impact the economic and security stakes of the entire region. It will result in a delay in trade shipments, which will impact the prices of goods in the market. Therefore, the Chinese blockade along the Taiwan Strait and its military drills will bring uncertainty and challenges to trade activities and, ultimately, the economy of the nations like Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and other small islands and nations across the globe.
With the rising challenges for Taiwan, Taiwan can find an opportunity using its diplomatic policy strategically by extending its interest with the “AUKUS” grouping. Particularly the AUKUS grouping because it is a grouping with Security as its core footing in the Indo-Pacific region. US and UK also have their national security interest in the region because of the islands like Northern Mariana, Guam, and Diego Garcia, which is the site of the common military facility for the UK and the US. Taiwan will benefit from the association with the nuclear submarines to be developed for Australia, artificial intelligence, etc. as an assistance tool to strengthen its national security vis-à-vis the challenge posed by its rival People’s Republic of China. Exchange of defence, tactical & artificial intelligence, satellite assistance, exchange of military tactics, security assistance in traditional and non-traditional forms will be advantageous for Taiwan. It will provide a foundation for Taiwan to engage diplomatically and attract support for itself at the multilateral forum.
The clouds of crisis in the Asian region, especially over the region with strategic importance for all the actors in global political theatre, are to stay until China feels that it has the Pacific Ocean firmly under its grip. The other working framework of China will focus on overriding the established economic power of the geopolitical stage. To achieve this, China, being a major manufacturing hub, may try to control the trade flows across the globe as well as the nations, and assert itself over small nations in the region.
Disclaimer: This paper is the author's individual scholastic contribution and does not necessarily reflect the organization's viewpoint.