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Taiwan And China Increase Tensions, How To Understand This Conflict?

Recently, the Chinese government of Xi Jinping stated its intentions to reunify Taiwan and China. Why are these two nations still in theory the same country? .

Xi Jinping

As confusing as it may sound, Taiwan and China are still, in theory, the same country. This, despite the fact that both have different governments and have different representations in the United Nations, different football teams, central banks, currencies, etc. Photo: gdb.voanews.com

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Taiwán y China aumenta las tensiones, ¿Cómo entender este conflicto?

As confusing as it may sound, Taiwan and China are still, in theory, the same country. This, despite the fact that both have different governments and have different representations in the United Nations, different football teams, central banks, currencies, etc. In practice, both are two independent countries.

However, both Beijing and Taipei recognize themselves as the true Chinese government and representative of the people. Although this has been the discourse that both states have defended, at present, Taipei internally recognizes that what this implies and that a reunification with mainland China would put the Taiwanese under the domination of the Chinese Communist Party.

How did this confusing conflict start?

Just after World War II, when allied forces and Chinese groups drove the Japanese out of China, a civil war began to brew in the Asian giant. Among the armed groups that fought the Japanese yoke, those led by Chian Kai-shek (previous Chinese president before the invasion) and Mao Zedong (leader of the communist party) stood out. The war left the communists victorious and forced the nationalists to flee to the island of Taiwan, which belongs to China.

At that time, the Republicans left mainland China, but with the intention of returning, defeating the Communist forces, and restoring the "Republic." Thanks to US support for the Kai-shek government, Taipei ended up representing all of China at the United Nations and the Security Council. It was not until 1971 that it became untenable not to allow the Communist Party to take over the majority of the territory.

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Precisely, it was also the military and economic support that allowed Taiwan to remain independent from mainland China. As Henry Kissinger explained well in his book "On China", the Chinese know that time is their greatest ally, not for nothing have they been an ancient people that has remained despite invasions, wars, dominions. They know that if they are weak today, tomorrow they will have their greatness again. It is precisely what they accepted and knew that Taiwan, like Hong Kong, will end up being part of their territory.

But that's what the Taiwanese thought, they dreamed for decades that the communist regime in China would fall and that they would be chosen as the worthy heirs. However, time has proved him right is the followers of Mao. What at the time was the way in which China accepted the "autonomy" of the island (both territories recognized that Taiwan was part of China) is what today generates this diplomatic crisis.

Xi Jinping recently recalled that Taiwan is part of China and that they have not given up their right to annex it (peacefully). Yet today, Taiwanese recognize the risk this would pose to their democratic and liberal institutions. The party that today competes against the KMT of Chian Kai-shek, the Democratic Progressive Party, today in power, defends a total independence from mainland China, formalizing what has happened decades ago, being a completely independent country and without fear of a annexation to China.

This is when China shows its teeth. The Chinese government has always advocated a peaceful solution with Taiwan. However, the use of force has been reserved if the island decides to formally secede. Taiwan has the United States, which have always been strong allies, but today China is not that small developing economy, today it is the second world power and many predict that it will overtake the Americans soon.

So the status quo is what keeps the peace in the region. Without unification, without independence and without the use of force. Although today, the government party in Taipei is led by the PPD and with a more hostile attitude towards China and its repressive policies.

"The complete reunification of our country must and will be achieved." This accompanied the dispatch of more than 100 combat aircraft to the waters of Taiwan. It is clear that Xi Jinping wants to pressure and know how far the United States is willing to respond for a territory in China's backyard. One of the consequences is what happened a few years ago in Ukraine, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula without caring about NATO warnings. However, Crimea was full of Russian sympathizers and today Taiwan is a different setting that would result in a confrontation few want.

For this reason, although these tensions are unlikely to escalate, it is not uncommon to think that China has serious intentions to ensure unification, as happened with Hong Kong Island.

China and its South Sea
This diplomatic and military tension between China and Taiwan is not the only one that exists in the area. Indeed, one of the places with the greatest border disputes is the South China Sea. The Asian giant has maintained an aggressive stance in which they recognize the territorial sea, islands and islets of Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has even encouraged the construction of artificial islands and military bases in the disputed area, which has raised tensions to high levels for all these countries.