Tensions Continue in Taiwan Strait: Take Path of Dialogue, Not Pressure

Tension in the Taiwan Strait continues. China has successively sent many warplanes into Taiwan’s air self-defense identification zone; America has conducted joint training in neighboring waters with Japan, Britain and others.

The international situation around Taiwan has greatly changed in recent years.

First is the rise of China. Its military strength has waxed and the power gap between it and America, Taiwan’s backup, has waned.

In October 1971, China was recognized by the United Nations and Taiwan withdrew in disgust. In the ensuing 50 years, China pursued amazing development and secured international prominence. The number of countries with which it has diplomatic relations has climbed to 180, an obvious disparity with Taiwan’s 15.

China has become a unique competitor for hegemony with America.

U.S. President Joe Biden has forthrightly stated that America would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China. In the background is anxiety that a forceful unification of Taiwan with China might destroy the stability of democratic societies or the world.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has been advancing its democratization and raising its international profile.

Democratic politics have been consolidated by the transfer of administrations through elections. Some 40% of legislators are female, and consideration for diversity is progressing in society. The practice of emphasizing public disclosure of information also reaped dividends as a COVID-19 countermeasure.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen stresses democratic values. Most Taiwanese residents want to preserve the status quo: avoid a collision with China while preserving a free, democratic society.

Taiwan’s historical ties with Japan and America are strong, but it is also trying to grow closer to European countries. Its goal is likely to strengthen coordination on the basis of shared values and resist China, a great power.

Yet Chinese-Taiwanese unification is a core interest that China absolutely will not concede. It viciously counters Japanese, American and European actions as interference in internal affairs.

It pressures the Tsai administration as well on both military and economic fronts. Its posture of pressing for unification under one country, two systems — which Taiwan finds difficult to accept — has also not changed.

Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is of utmost importance to international society. If the circle around Chinese President Xi Jinping truly desires a peaceful resolution, it must alter its strategy of relying solely on pressure, pay heed to the will of the Taiwanese people and pursue dialogue.

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