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RSTV IAS UPSC – China vs Taiwan

  • IASbaba
  • January 7, 2020
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The Big Picture- RSTV
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China vs Taiwan

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TOPIC: General studies 2

  • India and the World
  • International Relations
  • Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests

In news: Taiwan has rejected the Chinese formula of one country two systems. 

  • In her New Year speech Taiwanese President vowed to defend the island nation’s sovereignty saying the Hong Kong model would not work for Taiwan as democracy and authoritarianism cannot co-exist in the same country. 
  • China claims Taiwan as its territory and wants to bring it under Beijing’s control even if it requires the use of force. 
  • The anti-Infiltration bill passed by Taiwanese Parliament recently has further sent the relations between the two to a new low.

Background

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is an island off the southern coast of China that has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) views the island as a province, while in Taiwan—a territory with its own democratically elected government that is home to twenty-three million people—political leaders have differing views on the island’s status and relations with the mainland.

The PRC asserts that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of it. Beijing says Taiwan is bound by an understanding reached in 1992 between representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) political party then ruling Taiwan. Referred to as the 1992 Consensus, it states that there is only “one China” but allows for differing interpretations, by which both Beijing and Taipei agree that Taiwan belongs to China, while the two still disagree on which entity is China’s legitimate governing body. The tacit agreement underlying the 1992 Consensus is that Taiwan will not seek independence.

In Taiwan, the Chinese government’s objective has long been what it calls “peaceful reunification” — “reunification” even though Taiwan has never been under the jurisdiction or control of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party. To achieve that goal, Beijing has for years tried to simultaneously coax and coerce Taiwan’s adhesion with both the promise of economic benefits and military threats. 

A historic task: 

  • Early this year, President Xi Jinping of China reiterated that “complete reunification” was a “historic task.” “We make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means,” he added.
  • Taiwan is gearing up for a presidential election in January. On Nov. 17, Ms. Tsai announced that the pro-independence William Lai Ching-te, a former prime minister, would be her running mate. On the same day, China sent an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait. (In July, China had released its defense white paper, and it stated, “By sailing ships and flying aircraft around Taiwan, the armed forces send a stern warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”) 

A political task: 

  • It is also trying to undermine Taiwan’s democratic process itself and sow social divisions on the island. 
  • Plus, only about one in 10 Taiwanese people support unification with China. The Sunflower Movement of 2014, a series of protests led by a coalition of students and civil-society activists, marked the rejection of close relations with China by Taiwan’s younger generations.

An economic task: 

  • The Chinese authorities also seemed to think that increasing economic interdependence across the Taiwan Strait would be a pathway to unification. At some point, the theory went, it would be too costly for Taiwan to unravel economic links.
  • Trade between China and Taiwan exceeded $181 billion in 2017, up from about $35.5 billion in 1999. But even as the two economies grew closer, the number of people who identified as Taiwanese increased: from more than 48 percent to about 60 percent between 2008 and late 2015.

Current moves – 

China will persist in pulling its military and economic levers. It will continue to manipulate news coverage to try to buoy Beijing-friendly candidates in the upcoming election. But now it is also launching a disinformation campaign to sap Taiwanese’s trust in their institutions and sow discontent among them.

China has also made no secret of its intention to exacerbate social rifts in Taiwan. The Chinese government believes it can pit various ethnic, political and social groups in Taiwan against one another.

China can also be expected to exploit the soft underbelly of Taiwanese politics: patronage networks. Those are less important today than during Taiwan’s authoritarian days, but they continue to allow community leaders, farmers’ associations and even organized-crime figures to buy votes.

Social media platforms are another key battleground: Nearly 90 percent of Taiwan’s population is active on them, and traditional news outlets have been known to republish fake posts without fact-checking. According to Reuters, Chinese government agencies have paid Taiwanese news outlets to publish pro-Beijing content.

Must read: Putting Taiwan on India’s diplomatic priority

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Democracy and authoritarianism cannot co-exist in the same country. Critically examine.

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