Ein Kon­flikt bahnt sich an, man­che spre­chen schon von einem Krieg. War­um jetzt Ver­nunft gefragt ist und was es dazu braucht.

At the begin­ning of 2019, Chi­ne­se Pre­si­dent Xi Jin­ping made a con­tro­ver­si­al announ­ce­ment about the pos­si­ble reuni­fi­ca­ti­on of the Chi­ne­se People’s Repu­blic and Tai­wan. He mar­ked that the Chi­ne­se government won’t hesi­ta­te to use the mili­ta­ry for­ce, if necessa­ry. The pro­blem is, that Main­land Chi­na claims Tai­wan to be its pro­vin­ce, while Tai­wan con­si­ders its­elf to be an inde­pen­dent nati­on and a real China.

Short History of the Conflict

Tai­wan inde­pen­dence goes against the trend of histo­ry and will lead to a dead end!

Xi Jin­ping

The ques­ti­on of Tai­wan has for a long time been con­si­de­red to be a pro­blem. After the end of World War 2, ideo­lo­gi­cal and mili­ta­ry con­flict in Chi­na bet­ween the com­mu­nist and natio­na­lists pre­vai­led. Chi­ne­se Com­mu­nist Par­ty, backed by the Soviet Uni­on, won over the US-sup­por­ted Repu­blic of Chi­na and the lat­ter fled 180 kilo­me­tres away from con­ti­nen­tal Chi­na to the island of Tai­wan. Tai­wan grew stron­ger as an inde­pen­dent sta­te and was one of the lea­ding eco­no­mies in East Asia during the 20th cen­tu­ry. It remai­ned the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of Chi­na until 1971, when UN’s Gene­ral Assem­bly vote decla­red People’s Repu­blic of Chi­na the legal suc­ces­sor to the Repu­blic of Chi­na (Tai­wan). Both sta­tes remai­ned in the sta­te of war, alt­hough inac­ti­ve, until the year 1991.

Current Aspects of the Conflict

The most rele­vant aspect of this pro­blem is that on the one hand, Tai­wan con­si­ders its­elf to be an inde­pen­dent nati­on. It has demo­cra­ti­cal­ly elec­ted government, con­sti­tu­ti­on, deve­lo­ped eco­no­my, and strong mili­ta­ry for­ces. This means that the out­co­me of the gene­ral elec­tion in Tai­wan can set its cour­se with Chi­na. In Janu­a­ry of this year, pro-inde­pen­dent Pre­si­dent of Tai­wan Mrs. Tsai Ing-wen got the 57% vote majo­ri­ty over her oppo­nent, a pro-Chi­ne­se poli­ti­ci­an cam­pai­gning for the impro­ve­ment of rela­ti­ons with Beijing.

Alt­hough inde­pen­dent, Taiwan’s inde­pen­dence direct­ly depends on the direct decisi­ons made by the Chi­ne­se government. They are the pos­si­ble aggres­sors in this con­flict who are plan­ning the inva­si­on and sta­te their rea­di­ness to app­ly for­ce in case of not sub­mit­ting to their will. It remains unclear, when and whe­ther the attack on the island will be launched.

Fur­ther, it is not a secret that Chi­na is com­pe­ting with the United Sta­tes for the world hege­mo­ny. The­re­fo­re, the poli­ti­cal actions made in Washing­ton are cru­cial for Tai­wan. Due to the cur­rent poli­cy of iso­la­ti­on, that is stron­gly pur­sued by US pre­si­dent Donald J. Trump, Tai­wan could remain without any sup­port of its stra­te­gic ally in the case of war. To empha­si­ze, the poli­cy of iso­la­ti­on slow­ly but surely con­tri­bu­tes more con­fi­dence to Beijing’s offi­cials for tacking more radi­cal steps towards Tai­wan and bea­ring litt­le respon­si­bi­li­ty for them.

Last but not least, inter­na­tio­nal sup­port of the wes­tern com­mu­ni­ty for Tai­wan is vital. Hence, if Tai­wan and Chi­na can­not sol­ve the con­flict tog­e­ther, mul­ti­la­te­ral media­ti­on and sup­port would streng­t­hen Taiwan’s posi­ti­on. Due to the negli­gence of Chi­na, Tai­wan ten­si­ons may lead to a war that could have many nega­ti­ve con­se­quen­ces for inter­na­tio­nal secu­ri­ty, peace, and free­dom. By get­ting its grasp over Tai­wan, Chi­na will get more influ­ence in the South Chi­na Sea, a cru­cial tra­de rou­te in Asia. By having con­trol over the inter­na­tio­nal tra­de and ship­ment, Chi­na would get more inter­na­tio­nal influ­ence mar­ked by aut­ho­ri­ta­ri­an con­trol, repres­si­ons and vio­la­ti­ons of human rights and freedoms.

Possible solutions

Des­pi­te the com­ple­xi­ty of the pro­blem, the­re are mul­ti­ple solutions.

The first one is pro­po­sed by Chi­na in nego­tia­ti­ons for reuni­fi­ca­ti­on cal­led “One coun­try, two sys­tems”. It has found app­li­ca­ti­ons in Hong Kong and Macau giving the­se cities spe­cial eco­no­mic and gover­ning bene­fits, mea­ning not all Main­land Chi­na laws do app­ly. Tai­wan could try to nego­tia­te the best deal while still avoiding armed conflict.

An alter­na­ti­ve solu­ti­on for Tai­wan would be to remain with a sta­tus quo and streng­t­hen its posi­ti­on on the island. This would inclu­de con­cen­tra­ting on pre­pa­ra­ti­on for defen­si­ve war, streng­t­he­ning the eco­no­my and ideo­lo­gi­cal­ly achie­ving maxi­mal inde­pen­dence sup­port among the citizens.

Con­clu­ding, in my opi­ni­on, the best solu­ti­on for Tai­wan would be by stri­ving for inter­na­tio­nal dia­lo­gue in the United Nati­ons. See­ing as neit­her Tai­wan wants to lose inde­pen­dence, nor Chi­na will set off its claims from the island, the pro­blem can result in a seve­re con­flict that will cost thousands of lives. Hence­forth, the best way to sus­tain peace and secu­ri­ty would be to use the United Nati­ons as a medi­um for dia­lo­gue, refer­ring to the gui­ding princip­le it was crea­ted wit: pro­tec­ting smal­ler nati­ons from the aggres­si­on of the big­ger ones. The inter­na­tio­nal com­mu­ni­ty has to accept the dan­ger of the cur­rent situa­ti­on and act as soon as pos­si­ble. The poten­ti­al occup­a­ti­ons of Tai­wan bear many dan­gers of aut­ho­ri­ta­ri­an aggres­si­on on wea­ker coun­tries sprea­ding world­wi­de. The wes­tern world was silent when Chi­na anne­xed Tibet, and for this rea­son, Bei­jing belie­ves that ano­t­her act of aggres­si­on on Tai­wan could take place without any con­se­quen­ces. But we are not allo­wed to for­get – every human life lost is a tragedy.

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