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China And Taiwan Relations: A History Marred By War, Identity And Territorial Politics

While China views Taiwan as part of a breakaway province which will soon be reinstated under its control, Taiwan perceives its identity as an independent nation with its constitution and democratically-elected leaders

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CHINA/TAIWAN: Fueling fires of territorial interference between China and Taiwan, the US has once again injected itself into an age-old conflict that witnessed war, chaos and bloodshed over territorial dominance.

US Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s visit to Taipei over the week pledged solidarity and support for Taiwan’s freedom and independence, irking its arch nemesis China along the way. The relations between the two countries have long been problematic and convoluted and their history even more so as they grapple with ideas of potential threats of war and rebellion over recent American indulgences.

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Tensions between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) in the 1950s resulted in armed conflict over strategic islands located in the Taiwan Strait. On two separate occasions during the 1950s, the PRC bombed the islands controlled by the PRC. The US appeared as a flag bearer of freedom, and peace, and intervened on behalf of the ROC.

While China views Taiwan as part of a breakaway province which will soon be reinstated under its control, Taiwan perceives its identity as an independent nation with its constitution and democratically-elected leaders. Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the issue of “reunification” with its former party but has not formulated a clear-cut method of force to ensure this process.

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Taiwan is an island nation, located strategically in the list of US-friendly territories that are crucial to US foreign policy, 100 miles off the coast of Southeast China. If China were to forcefully intervene and gain control, some western experts ensure that China would exert more power in the western Pacific region and could threaten US military bases as far away as Guam and Hawaii. However, China has clarified it has purely peaceful intentions.

The island used to be under mainland Chinese control in the seventeenth century when the Qing Dynasty began administering it. Then, they were forced to relinquish the island to Japan after losing the first Sino-Japanese war.

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China reclaimed the island when Japan broke down in 1945, after the Second World War.

When civil war erupted in mainland China between the nationalist government forces led by Chiang Kai-shek and Mai Zedong’s Communist party, Kai-shek fled to Taiwan where the nationalist party known as the Kuomintang, ruled for the next several decades.

China is bold to claim the island nation was originally a Chinese province, but Taiwanese history defends its sovereignty by asserting that they were never originally part of the modern Chinese state that was formed after the 1911 revolution or the PRC that was established by Mao in 1949.

The Kuomintang has historically been one of Taiwan’s most prominent political parties. Taiwan is currently recognized as a sovereign nation by merely 13 countries (plus the Vatican) in the world.

China continues to put pressure on the global stage to destabilize Taiwan’s identity as a sovereign nation but the US has already injected itself into the controversy and demanded for its freedom and sovereignty be established.

It needs to be established, despite the irony, that the US also follows the One China Policy resulting in political ambiguity regarding Taiwan. “It acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China and does not challenge that position.”

This poses a strange yet strategically-motivated move by the US to keep its toes on both sides of the water divide, a stance that the US has historically maintained.

ALSO READ: Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Angers China, Says the US Shall ‘Pay Price’

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