- Last July, the famous British magazine "The Economist" described Taiwan as "the most dangerous place on earth", as it poses a great dilemma for China and the United States alike.
The island of Taiwan is less than 200 kilometers from Chinese territory, and Beijing considers it a renegade province that must be returned to the one Chinese home, while Washington supports Taiwan militarily and supplies it with its latest weapons to deter China.
For more than 7 decades, the Chinese Communist Party has threatened to invade Taiwan, and now fears are growing among analysts, officials and investors that the party will carry out its threat over the next few years, which could lead to a war with America.
Because of the tensions related to Taiwan, which have doubled after the strained relations between Washington and Beijing, many observers fear a catastrophic scenario of China’s invasion of the island, and the United States having to intervene, which threatens to ignite a war between the two major powers in today’s world, a scenario in which it is difficult to imagine a victorious party at its end.
In a question and answer, Al Jazeera Net deals with all aspects related to the possibility of China's invasion of Taiwan, and the expected US position in this case.
Biden confirmed that the United States would defend Taiwan militarily if China launched an attack on it (Reuters)
Will the United States defend Taiwan if it is invaded by China?
Last week, during an interview with CNN, US President Joe Biden touched on the most sensitive of all related issues, saying unequivocally that America would act if China attacked Taiwan.
In response to a question about whether his country would intervene militarily if China launched an attack on Taiwan, Biden replied, "Yes, we have an obligation to do so."
The White House later clarified that "the president was not announcing any change in our policy, and there is no change in our policy."
What is the US policy towards Taiwan?
For 30 years after the Communist Party seized power in China following a civil war with its rival Nationalist Party, Washington did not recognize it as the legitimate government of China. Instead, it had an embassy in Taipei, where it set up the remnants of the Nationalist-run Republic of China. country after fleeing to Taiwan in 1949.
With the geostrategic shifts of the 1970s, Washington and Beijing laid the groundwork for their rapprochement to confront the Soviet Union.
At the beginning of 1979, the United States officially recognized the Communist-run People's Republic of China and severed its official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but maintained strong and solid relations with it.
Thus, Washington recognized the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and also recognized Beijing's position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of it.
However, the United States has never endorsed the Communist Party's claim that the People's Republic of China has sovereignty over Taiwan, known as the "one China policy", and Beijing regards the island of about 24 million people as a stray province that must be brought back into the fold, preferably by peaceful means. , or by force if necessary.
Taiwanese "F-16" aircraft in a military exercise (Reuters)
Does Washington have a declared policy to defend Taiwan if it is invaded by China?
Washington pursues a policy of "strategic ambiguity";
The Law on Relations with Taiwan left the issue of its defense vague, and spoke only of the provision of "defense resources and services" without defining clear red lines for intervention.
The United States sold Taiwan advanced weapons and helps train its soldiers, but for 42 years, successive US administrations have adopted the principle of "strategic ambiguity", due to two reasons:
lack of clarity in the circumstances of the American intervention, which deprives the Chinese military planners of a clear knowledge of the limits of maneuvering with the United States.
Strategic ambiguity has forced Beijing to assume Washington's involvement or intervention in the event of attacks or an attempt to invade Taiwan.
Although the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait region is changing in China's favour, experts believe that China is still far from possessing advanced forces that would enable it to succeed in seizing Taiwan.
, strategic ambiguity also serves as a deterrent against those who might be tempted to declare independence within Taiwan;
Washington only supports Taiwan's autonomy, but Taiwan's formal declaration of independence would almost certainly lead to a crisis.
With no clear guarantee of US assistance in fending off Chinese forces, the costs of such a declaration by Taiwan would likely be higher.
Does China deter the presence of US forces in Taiwan?
This depends on the nature and numbers of these forces. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen - in an interview with CNN a few days ago - announced for the first time the presence of US forces on Taiwanese soil, in the context that the threat from China is increasing every day.
Thus, Ing Wen will be the first Taiwanese official in this high position to recognize the presence of US forces in her country.
She did not talk about the numbers of these forces, and indicated that they are there for training purposes.
Taiwan had a US military presence for many years until the last official US garrison left the island in 1979, the year Washington transferred official diplomatic recognition to China from Taipei to Beijing.
Yun Sun, an expert on East Asia and the Pacific at the Stimpson Institute, pointed out that there is nothing new about the announcement of the presence of US military personnel on Taiwanese soil, and she acknowledged that "everyone knows the presence of US forces in Taiwan for years, even after the termination of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two parties, and the side The Chinese have always known that, and what happened is not new."
"What is new is America's public acknowledgment of this, and Taiwan's assertion of it, rather than keeping calm. Today this truth cannot be denied nor shrouded in a degree of mystery, it has become a truth out in the open; it cannot be denied, nor can it be easily reversed," she said.
The expert added that this announcement is "a deterrent message that any Chinese attacks will directly harm the American military in Taiwan, which will escalate the consequences of the attacks significantly because it will not only harm the Taiwanese, but also the Americans."
"Taiwan's assertion of the US message is much more troubling than earlier direct US recognition. China can accept an offensive statement from Washington, but its tolerance for similar statements by Taiwan is much less."
What governs and determines Washington's relations with Taiwan?
After the United States severed its official relations with Taiwan, Congress passed legislation known as the "Taiwan Relations Act" and was signed by then-President Jimmy Carter, and since then, American relations with the island have been strengthened.
The Taiwan Relations Act contributed to two main points:
strengthening Washington's unofficial and strong relations with Taiwan, and establishing an organization that would carry out the practical functions of an embassy in Taipei, and it was called the American Institute in Taiwan.
Declaring that diplomatic recognition of Beijing "is based on the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means."
The law decisively noted that any departure from this arrangement would be "a matter of grave concern" to the United States, and added that "the United States will provide Taiwan with defense resources and services in the quantity necessary to enable it to maintain an adequate self-defense capability."
Xi Jinping pledged to achieve "reunification" with Taiwan (Reuters)
Are there potentials soon for a Chinese military attack on Taiwan?
In recent weeks, Beijing has sent 150 military aircraft to the air defense zone adjacent to Taiwan's airspace, and Chinese President Xi Jinping - later - said that he would complete the "historic mission" of reunifying the island with China, "by peaceful means." Xi earlier refused to rule out military action.
Does Washington expect a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan?
Last March, Admiral Phil Davidson, who heads the Indo-Pacific Command, told Congress he was concerned about China's attack on Taiwan by 2027.
The war would be a disaster, not only because of the bloodshed in Taiwan and the risk of escalation between two nuclear powers, but also because of the consequences for the global economy.
Taiwan is the last arena of rivalry between China and America, and although the United States is not bound by a treaty to defend Taiwan, a Chinese attack will be a test of American military strength and diplomatic and political dominance.
And if the Seventh Fleet in Southeast Asia fails to withstand, China will overnight become the dominant power in Asia, which will shake the confidence of Washington's allies who rely on the American security umbrella, whether in Europe, East Asia, or the Persian Gulf.Keywords: