End China’s Political Domination of Taiwan

After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Communist Party of China took control of mainland China and established its government as the People’s Republic of China. The previous government, the Republic of China, fled to its last bastion of control: Taiwan. In 1971, the Republic of China lost its role as the representative of China to the U.N. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Taiwan transformed into a multi-party democracy with universal suffrage. Because of this, Taiwan grew rapidly, becoming an economic powerhouse with advanced and high-tech industries. Considered one of the “Four Asian Tigers”, Taiwan is one of the most prominent examples of the positive effects of democracy and intelligent economic planning in Asia.

Despite all these successes, however, the international status of Taiwan is in limbo. The PRC considers itself the only legitimate representation of Taiwan, denying the right of the Republic of China to exist. Taiwan has grappled for years with these issues, with independence movements always maintaining popularity. To the outside world, the solution seems obvious: let the independence movement go forward and rename the country the Republic of Taiwan. The issue is, of course, China. China has threatened for decades to use military force to take control of Taiwan should independence be declared or they deem that peaceful reunification is no longer achievable. This is equivalent to having a loaded gun pointed at their head.

Currently, only 22 U.N. member states and the Holy See maintain formal relations with Taiwan, with the rest of the world holding informal relations. This is due to China’s threats of cutting ties with any country that recognizes Taiwan. The people of Taiwan deserve better, and it is unreasonable for us to sit by while China bullies 23 million people into pseudo-recognition. The U.S. needs to be a leader on this front diplomatically. We should meet leaders around the world to come to an agreement to recognize Taiwan formally. China cannot possibly afford to cut off economic ties with a large portion of the economic world. Leaders should refer to Taiwan as the “Republic of Taiwan”, showing clear support for independence.

None of this should be taken lightly: China is still poised to use action against Taiwan. Recently, the Global Times, a Chinese state-owned news organization called for an end to Taiwan’s goals of independence. The editorial called for Taiwan to “keep in mind” that in the case of a showdown for independence, the Chinese government will “take decisive measures” and “resolve the Taiwan question for good.” The government of Taiwan has taken note of these recent escalations, saying in the 2015 National Defense Report that the mainland is enhancing air and naval forces to denture foreign intervention.

An international naval force should be assembled and sent to Taiwan. This would alter the balance significantly for China, ensuring any military intervention would be costly. President Xi of China wouldn’t dare risk his regime’s future on a single territory. For years, the U.S. has sold weapons to the Taiwan military to bolster its defenses. The Obama administration should be commended, selling over $6 billion worth of equipment to the islands in 2010. However, simply selling the government hardware won’t be good enough in the face of a large-scale invasion from the mainland.

Taiwan’s military doctrine calls for its forces to hold out until U.S. forces can intervene. President George W. Bush even stated that the U.S. would “do whatever it took” to defend Taiwan in the event of Chinese invasion. These people are relying on us for their freedom, and we must not fail them.

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