However the reality is quite different Taiwan has never been Chinese
Focus on China
On April 21, 2023, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang attended the opening ceremony of Lanting Forum "Chinese-style Modernization and the World" and delivered a keynote speech. Qin Gang pointed out that Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China's territory since ancient times, and both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China. This is Taiwan's history and Taiwan's current situation. The return of Taiwan to China is an integral part of the post-World War II international order, written in black and white in the Cairo Declaration and clearly stamped in the Potsdam Proclamation.
Today, it is not mainland China that is undermining international rules, unilaterally changing the status quo, and undermining the stability of the Taiwan Strait, but the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" and some countries trying to use the "independence of Taiwan" of Taiwan". The rules, status quo, and stability they define are essentially to hollow China out and "divide it peacefully," to tamper with WWII history, to subvert the postwar order, and trample on Chinese sovereignty. The 1.4 billion Chinese will not agree. Once the land of China is recovered, it will never be lost again. Once the international order is established after the war, it will never be allowed to be overthrown.
Beijing’s messaging to foreign and domestic audiences evolved in new and concerning ways. Chinese officials’ international messaging asserted China’s ownership of the entire Taiwan Strait and conveyed their disdain for international norms. Speaking to its own members, the CCP unveiled and credited to General Secretary of the CCP Xi Jinping a new “overall strategy for resolving the Taiwan question in the new era.”
As we have written several times, however the reality is quite different
Taiwan has never been Chinese. Chinese threats to Taiwan are an opportunity for Beijing both to bring the island into its authoritarian hands and to dismantle American alliances in the region.
However, Xi's plan to take Taiwan by force if necessary has several historical, strategic and geopolitical reasons. We explain them here.
The "reunification" of Taiwan to Cina has been foreseen in the latest version of the military strategy of the PRC which responds to the wishes of XI. Here the passage:
Not only did Xi decide to take the island but his predecessor Hu Jintao wanted the 2005 Anti-Secession Law. Article 8 clearly states that the military option is a faculty.
Even the latest white paper of 2019 entitled: China's National Defense in the New Era expressly states in point II. China's Defensive National Defense Policy in the New Era: "to oppose and contain “Taiwan independence;"
During the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (October 22), the CCP approved an amendment to its constitution that promises to “resolutely oppose and suppress Taiwan independence."
Finally, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China released a white paper on August 10 entitled "The Taiwan Question and China's Reunification in the New Era".
In January, Xi Jinping instructed spy chief Wang Huning to draft China's new Taiwan policy
China also recently said that the Taiwan Strait sea would not fall under the definition of "international waters", being Chinese maritime territory. In particular, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that international law does not employ the term “international waters,” and that China opposes the use of such terms “to manipulate issues related to Taiwan while threatening China's sovereignty and security.”
MFA spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference on April 17 that the U.S. decision to send the Milius - on April 16, the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait, sparking an outcry from mainland China and the People’s Liberation Army - through the strait was a show of force that threatened China’s security and undermined regional stability.
Wang responded to similar American claims regarding freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas at a press conference in June 2022 by emphasizing that all of the Taiwan Strait was under China’s jurisdiction.
Wang said at the time that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Chinese laws, “the waters of the Taiwan Strait, extending from both shores toward the middle of the strait, are divided into several zones including internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, and the Exclusive Economic Zone. China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait…”
“There is no legal basis of ‘international waters’ in the international law of the sea. It is a false claim when certain countries call the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters’ in order to find a pretext for manipulating issues related to Taiwan and threatening China’s sovereignty and security.”
China claims sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracelsus island groups and other areas within its ambiguous "nine-dash line" which delimits a maritime area of almost two million square kilometers, or more than a fifth of the land area Chinese. However, these claims are contested by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Taiwan increasingly in Xi's sights
As we wrote in the essay entitled La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico?, "Although China supports peaceful unification with the island of Taiwan, Beijing has never renounced the use of military force. In fact, it believes that the threat of force is essential to prevent the island from taking steps towards independence. China would appear willing to postpone the use of military force only if unification can be negotiated and if the costs of the conflict outweigh the benefits, according to the Pentagon. In January 2019, Xi Jinping publicly reaffirmed Beijing's refusal to give up the use of the
strength to resolve the Taiwan question, but also reaffirmed the position of peaceful unification according to the principle of 'one country, two systems'".
Taiwan’s foreign minister has said he is preparing for the possibility of a conflict with China in 2027.
Speaking on LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr, Joseph Wu said: “We are taking the Chinese military threat very seriously … I think 2027 is the year that we need to be serious about.”
US intelligence believes that Xi Jinping has ordered the country’s military to be ready by 2027 to annex Taiwan. China regards Taiwan, a democratic and self-governing island, as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland. Since he came to power in 2012, Xi has stressed that the Taiwan issue “cannot be passed on from generation to generation”.
Since 2018, however, the US Department of Defense (DOD) has signaled that Beijing may have an invasion capability as it would develop a military “option” on Taiwan.
In its latest report on China's military strength, released in 2020, the DOD reiterated that China's military options include a "large-scale amphibious invasion to occupy all or part of Taiwan or its offshore islands".
Lonnie Henley, a former US DOD intelligence officer for East Asia, said that since 2020, the PLA has built initial capabilities to invade Taiwan and win against any intervention by US forces.
While other experts offer differing assessments, there is general consensus in the US that the PLA is fast approaching an invasion capability.
The South China Sea plays an important role on security in the all of East Asia as Northeast Asia depends heavily on the oil flow and trade through these sea lanes, including more than 80% of crude oil arriving in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
In 2022, China adopted a significantly more aggressive stance toward Taiwan, ramping up displays of military force in addition to diplomatic and economic coercion. Beijing has also carefully observed Russia’s war in Ukraine, presumably drawing lessons that would inform
its approach if Chinese leaders ultimately decide to force unification with Taiwan. While the lessons being learned are not yet clear, Chinese leaders may conclude that managing information, mitigating the potential impact of sanctions, and examining the Russian military’s combat performance are paramount. For their part, Taiwan’s leaders may conclude on the basis of Ukraine’s experience that they must adopt an asymmetric warfighting strategy, involve the populace in resistance to a Chinese military operation, and build stockpiles of critical materials.
China’s economic coercion of Taiwan
China’s economic coercion of Taiwan targets export industries that are both relatively small and highly dependent on China’s consumer market, attempting to send a political message and inflict pain on Taiwan while avoiding fallout on China’s own economy. The Chinese government used the pretext of Speaker Pelosi’s trip to increase its economic coercion of Taiwan, implementing a variety of import bans on food products that in particular originate from areas upportive of Taiwan’s President Tsai-Ing Wen. Beijing’s decision to leave the far more consequential trade in semiconductors untouched demonstrates its approach to economic targeting of Taiwan industries that are relatively small and highly dependent on China’s consumer market.
In the United States, meanwhile, Senate and House lawmakers yesterday introduced the Taiwan Cybersecurity Resiliency Act, which would strengthen cybersecurity collaboration between the United States and Taiwan to counter cyberattacks from China. The bill would require the Department of Defense to broaden and strengthen cyber security cooperation with Taiwan by conducting cyber training exercises, defending the country's networks, infrastructure and military systems, and leveraging U.S. cyber security technologies to help defend Taiwan.
“Strengthening Taiwan’s military cyber capabilities is one of multiple measures needed to build Taiwan into a well-armed porcupine,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), one of four lawmakers co-sponsoring the bill.
The lawmakers said in a statement that in 2019, Taiwan faced about 20 to 40 million cyberattacks every month originating from China, “some of which were later used against the United States.”
“We must push back on the Chinese Communist Party’s growing aggression, and its attempts to undermine democracy around the world — including through hostile cyber actions,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).
This comes as tension mounts between the U.S., China and Taiwan. Earlier this month, China ordered naval and air drills over Taiwan following Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen’s trip to California, where she met with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other lawmakers.
The trip also prompted China to issue sanctions against the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank, for hosting and giving her a public platform.
“In disregard of China’s repeated representations and firm opposition, the United States allowed Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Taiwan region, to ‘transit’ in the U.S. and engage in political activities,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.