Peace in Taiwan hangs on a paradox.

America and the rest of the West, by not recognizing Taiwan and acknowledging the one-China principle, are confirming that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China and that there is no sovereign state on this island - and at the same time using their military deterrent power to ensure that this diplomatic agreement does not become reality, but that the officially non-existent entity called "Republic of China" retains its independence.

Mark Siemons

Feature correspondent in Berlin.

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The paradox has historical reasons: In 1945, after fifty years of Japanese colonial rule, Taiwan fell back to China, i.e. to the then "Republic of China", according to an Allied decision, but after its ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), lost the civil war against the communists in 1949, they built on Taiwan a counter-government that has been militarily protected by America since the Korean War.

In its constitution, Taiwan still officially maintains this original claim of being a representative body for all of China - although it has done so since at least 1971, when the United Nations recognized the People's Republic of China as the country's sole legitimate representative and Taiwan lost its seat at the UN , had become completely unreal.

However, as soon as the paradox is resolved by one side or the other, war threatens: If Taiwan were to formally declare its independence, China would "not hesitate to fight", as the Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said recently in Singapore and thus the Taiwan doctrine of the People's Republic affirmed.

If Beijing were to attempt to take the island by force, the American promise of assistance, formalized in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, would come into effect - with Washington deliberately remaining open with "strategic ambiguity" as to whether it would enter the war itself or just use a means of self-defense provided.

In the shadow of geopolitical power struggles

The risk of that happening has increased.

China's head of state, Xi Jinping, is showing increasing signs of impatience.

Although he continues to speak of the goal of a "peaceful reunification of the nation", he also emphasizes that this task cannot be postponed "from one generation to the next".

He has the majority of the mainland population behind him.

For geographic, ethnic, and historical reasons, it seems completely indubitable to her that Taiwan belongs to China, regardless of its form of rule.

Taiwanese society, on the other hand, has moved further and further away from such ethnonational categories in the course of its democratization.

Although the population of 23 million is more than 95 percent Han Chinese,

According to the latest polls, only five percent consider themselves “Chinese” and eighty percent “Taiwanese”.

This self-designation takes into account the special historical experiences of the island, but above all it testifies to the will to assert one's own democratic system against the KP regime on the mainland.

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