Chinese President Xi Jinping recently said he wanted a peaceful reunification with Taiwan. Taiwan has never formally declared its independence from China. The reason why Taiwan has not declared independence is simple. Such a declaration will lead to an even more tense relationship between the countries and will probably lead to China taking military action. China has previously launched an idea of a country with two systems. That is, a form of freedom for the island of Taiwan. The problem for China is that such a solution has little credibility after what has happened in Hong Kong. After the handover from Great Britain, Hong Kong was to have strong internal self-government. Self-government was gradually narrowed in spite of the agreement. Taiwan, which has democratic traditions, is of course a form of internal self-government with little credibility.
Taiwan and independence
In practice, Taiwan has been independent and an independent country. Taiwan also considers itself an independent country. Developments between China and Taiwan have been completely different. China has developed into a dictatorship where the ruling Communist Party decides everything. All opposition is cracked down on, as we have seen in Hong Kong.
Taiwan has free democratic elections. The island is governed by a president elected by the people through free democratic elections. The current president is a woman named Tsai Ing-wen. She comes from the Chinese-critical Democratic Progressive Party.
What Xi Jinping describes as a peaceful reunification seems unlikely. A reunification by force is not unthinkable. In recent times, China has shown increasing aggression towards Taiwan, an aggression that may be a part of reminding the island of what awaits if the island declares independence, or it may be a forewarning that China will actually use military force to recapture the island for Communist China.
How will the US react?
If China actually goes to military action to take back control of Taiwan, it is a question of how the US actually reacts. Will they settle for verbal condemnation, or will they defend Taiwan militarily. For the US, they probably have no choice. America’s credibility may be at stake. If the USA does not respond to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, the USA’s credibility in Europe and in the Pacific region will be questioned. In NATO, questions will be raised about the USA’s willingness to defend an attack on a European country. The same question will be raised in the Pacific region.
USA will try to prevent a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The USA, like China, hardly wants any conflict in the area. The question is how the US will react if it actually happens. A conflict here could have the potential for a major international conflict. In its time, the island became a haven for the remnants of the resistance against the communists in China. The communists were never able to gain control of the islands, which have since been effectively an independent country, although few have recognized Taiwan as such.
A frozen conflict
Taiwan has in many ways been an example of a so-called frozen conflict. A conflict that has never been resolved militarily and that has never been resolved diplomatically. The frozen conflict in Taiwan has in many ways been a model for similar conflicts. Russia in particular has used and uses frozen conflicts for various reasons. We see it in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
At some point or another, a frozen conflict will have to end. A conflict that lies there unresolved will never lead to anything good. The solutions to a frozen conflict need not be the same everywhere. For me, a democracy is a principle that cannot be deviated from. The freedom to think, write and say what we want is a human right. That freedom does not exist in China.