From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : US meddling in China-Tawian friction
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, landed in Taiwan, ignoring Chinese threats and a warning by President Xi Jinping to “not play with fire”.
Why in news?
- Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is the highest-level visit by an American official to the island in a quarter century.
- The senior US politician has been critical of China on multiple fronts over the decades.
US defiance of One China Policy
- The US has maintained a ‘One China’ policy since the 1970s, under which it recognises Taiwan as a part of China.
- But it has unofficial ties with Taiwan as well — a strategy that is known as strategic or deliberate ambiguity.
- Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China, threatens it frequently, and has not ruled out taking the island by military force at any time.
Why does China have a problem with Pelosi visiting Taiwan?
- For China, the presence of a senior American figure in Taiwan would indicate some kind of US support for Taiwan’s independence.
- This move severely undermined China’s perception of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Brief history of China-Taiwan Tensions
- Taiwan is an island about 160 km off the coast of southeastern China, opposite the Chinese cities of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen.
- It was administered by the imperial Qing dynasty, but its control passed to the Japanese in 1895.
- After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the island passed back into Chinese hands.
- After the communists led by Mao Zedong won the civil war in mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the nationalist Kuomintang party, fled to Taiwan in 1949.
- Chiang Kai-shek set up the government of the Republic of China on the island, and remained President until 1975.
- Beijing has never recognised the existence of Taiwan as an independent political entity, arguing that it was always a Chinese province.
- Taiwan says that the modern Chinese state was only formed after the revolution of 1911.
- It was not a part of that state or of the People’s Republic of China that was established after the communist revolution.
- While the political tensions have continued, China and Taiwan have had economic ties.
- Many migrants from Taiwan work in China, and China has investments in Taiwan.
- No doubt, cultural ties are indispensable.
- In recent years, Taiwan’s government has said only the island’s 23 million people have the right to decide their future and that it will defend itself when attacked.
- Since 2016, Taiwan has elected a party that leans towards independence.
How does the world, and US, view Taiwan?
- The UN does NOT recognise Taiwan as a separate country; in fact, only 13 countries around the world — mainly in South America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and the Vatican — do.
- In June, President Biden said that the US would defend Taiwan if it was invaded, but it was clarified soon afterward but America does not support Taiwan’s independence.
- While the US has no formal ties with Taipei, it remains Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier.