Tensions between China and Taiwan Rises


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Chinese jet fly near Taiwan.

The threat of military conflict has long hung over Taiwan, but tensions have been escalating. Increasing Chinese military activity in the region has caused global concern.
Taiwan is an island separated from China by the Taiwan Strait and is officially known as the Republic of China (ROC). A few key points in history are that in the 16th century, there was a migration of mainland Chinese from China to Taiwan. At the end of the 19th century, Taiwan came under Japanese rule after Japan defeated China in the First Sino-Japanese War. After World War II, the Japanese surrendered, and Taiwan was handed back to the Republic of China. After this, in 1946, China itself fell into a civil war between the Nationalists and Communists factions. When the Nationalists (who controlled the government of China in 1945) sent military forces to claim sovereignty over Taiwan, the local ethnic Chinese were not happy and resisted. A series of massacres happened that still affect politics in Taiwan today; some groups support independence and groups that support reunification with China. The Nationalists, who lost the civil war, fled to Taiwan while the Communists controlled mainland China. The Nationalists began a long period of authoritarian rule which lasted through the 1980s, but Taiwan eventually democratized. Through that democratic process, the tensions between the Chinese that came after the civil war and descendants of the Chinese who had been in Taiwan are still there today.
The problem between the countries is that China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has promised to reunite by force if needed politically. Still, Taiwan’s leaders say it is a sovereign state. They are recognized as a legitimate nation by the other major nations globally and will do all they can to keep their democratic government in place. The back and forth conflict has formed a complex situation that has been a problem for many years, but recently tensions have risen. China has sent a record of 150 military planes near Taiwan in just five days this October, showing off its military strength. Taiwan’s president has assured that they will not be backed down from China, but during her National Day speech, she said that the situation is “more complex and fluid than at any point in the last 72 years”. China’s routine military presence in Taiwan’s air defense zone has affected national security and aviation safety. They have the support of the United States behind them, as America is looking for ways to keep mainland China from becoming too dominant. Last year the U.S. approved $1.8 billion in weapon sales to Taiwan under the Trump Administration. Currently, under the Biden Administration, the U.S. has approved $750 million in weapon sales to Taiwan. For now, one can hope that a bloody war won’t commence.