China-US conflict over Taiwan: The world is just not ready for it

Published : Tuesday, 9 August, 2022 at 12:00 AM

The world economy was fighting with the threats of COVID-19 pandemic for over two years when the Russia-Ukraine war imposed a critical threat not only on the global economy but also on global food security. The whole world is going through inflation as well as energy and food crisis. While we are trying to survive, another conflict between China and the USA over Taiwan is knocking at the door. If this new war begins, the world might enter into a deep economic recession. Hence, the world leaders should trace out solutions to stop the upcoming armed conflict as well as the one between Russia and Ukraine at earliest.

China is holding it’s biggest ever show of military force in the air and seas around Taiwan, including the firing of ballistic missiles. The military exercises follow a visit to the island by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi, a longtime China critic, said her visit showed unwavering US commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under Beijing’s control again. However, the self-ruled island sees itself as distinct from the mainland, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders. China’s President Xi Jinping said reunification with Taiwan must be fulfilled and did not rule out the possible use of force to achieve this.Currently, only 13 countries (plus the Vatican) recognise Taiwan as a sovereign country. China exerts considerable diplomatic pressure on other countries not to recognize Taiwan, or to do anything which implies recognition.

China could attempt to bring about reunification by non-military means such as strengthening economic ties. But in any military confrontation, China’s armed forces would dwarf those of Taiwan. China spends more than any country except the US on defense and could draw on a huge range of capabilities, from naval power to missile technology, aircraft and cyber-attacks while Taiwan will need to look for help, especially from the US.

Until now, Washington’s policy of strategic vagueness has meant the US has been deliberately unclear about whether or how it would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack. Diplomatically, the US currently sticks to the “One-China” policy, which recognizes only one Chinese government in Beijing and has formal ties with China rather than Taiwan. But in May, US president Joe Biden appeared to harden Washington’s position. Asked whether the US would defend Taiwan militarily, Biden replied affirmatively. The White House insisted that Washington had not changed its position. Meanwhile, tensions between China and Taiwan have been increasing in recent days.

Taiwan’s economy is hugely important for the world. Much of the world’s everyday electronic equipment – from phones to laptops, watches and games consoles – is powered by computer chips made in Taiwan. By one measure, a single Taiwanese company, TSMC – has over half of the world’s market. A Chinese takeover in Taiwan could give Beijing some control over one of the world’s most important industries.

The Taiwan Issue is a global flashpoint of the 21st century’s great power rivalry between China and the United States. For United States, at this point, perhaps nothing is a greater strategic weapon than the democratic Taiwan to contain China and to pose a threat to her hegemony in her own neighborhood. Though United States recognized the One China Principle, it has an unofficial relationship with the island and continues to sell defense weapons to the country’s military.

A prospective Chinese invasion of Taiwan should mean an end of the era of US dominance in the region. Today, the Ukrainian Crisis is already challenging America’s global leadership and its ability to affect the outcomes around the world. Even as the world is preoccupied with the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, imminently, Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific may turn out to be yet another challenge to the US leadership. But in this power crisis, the world will face a great challenge as the economic crisis will incline. Different regions especially the poor countries will face grave crisis. The developed countries will also face the hit.

The US is fighting the wars in Russian backyard through Ukraine now and they might do the same at China’s backyard through Taiwan. But time might soon bring it inside the US too as the power rivalry is not going to be easily settled especially with strong relationships between Russia and China. The current scenario looks like the one during the Second World War where though the war started from the West, the Southeast Asia had to bear the worst consequences of nuclear attack. Though the US is instigating the China-Taiwan conflict, the whole Southeast region will have to bear the chaos. Hence, China should not retaliate to the US poking during this time of crisis.

From different survey, it was evident that, the Joe Biden administration is quickly losing popularity in the US including inside the Democratic Party. Inflation, unemployment, gun control and many other issues are questioning Biden’s ability to lead the country. In the face of such adversities, Biden is trying to divert the focus on other areas like; killing of Al-Qaeda chief Al-Zawahiri or the recent China-Taiwan issues. He recently, after killing Al-Zawahiri, said, “if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out”. His strong remarks must be to gain on his popularity. The US is already irritating China with the Taiwan issue and they will participate in a joint military exercise with India near the China border in October, which will disturb China more.Engaging in a conflict with China might also help gain popularity but it will be a curse for the global people.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and US Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Michele J Sison both arrived in Dhaka on Aug 6 afternoon. On the face of China-Taiwan confrontation, their visit seemed to be of special interests though the officials claimed it to be purely coincidental. Amid escalating geopolitical tensions, Beijing reiterated its ‘One China’ policy during a meeting between Bangladeshi foreign minister Abdul Momen and his counterpart from China Wang Yi. Bangladesh later has reiterated its firm adherence to “One China” principle and urged all parties concerned to resolve their differences in accordance with the UN Charter and through dialogue while Bangladesh is closely following the developments in the Taiwan Strait.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman always respected the sovereignty of all nations. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also seemed committed to the same principle. Additionally, she portrayed that, Bangladesh will not shelter any force threatening the sovereignty of Bangladesh or any other country. During the Rohingya influx in Bangladesh, there was serious instigation to act aggressive but PM Hasina remained calm. Everyone should follow her principle. Not only the ruling party but also the opposition should express the same commitment. Moreover, Bangladesh has reached to a place of honor in front of the whole world during the last decade. Hence, Bangladesh should act proactively to mediate whenever possible between the conflicting parties without taking sides as US, Russia, China and many other countries are our development partners.

Not only Bangladesh but also the whole South Asian region has to be very careful in taking sides in this global power rivalry game. We have to understand and act according to our best interest for the welfare of our people. We are already facing great economic trouble and dissatisfaction is increasing among the people due to the increasing price of different products as well as scarcity of facilities. In this critical time, pressure from foreign allies or enemies can make the situation worse. Hence, we need to act strategically and hopefully, the government under the farsighted leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will step into the right path.

The global leaders should realize that, any war during this economically vulnerable period will destroy humanity. They must work to secure the future of the global people. Creating wars for self-interest will not keep them in leader’s position for long. If they work to ensure the security of people, they will be framed with glory in the history. We hope, they realize that and bring peace throughout the world.
The writer is chief editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Chief Patron,BangabandhuShishu Kishore Mela

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