Beijing considers the island its breakaway province, but 70 years can not get it back under control. How dangerous Taiwan for his powerful neighbour and can the United States use him as a pawn in its “great game”? Columnist ponders “360”.

Source photo: RIA Novosti/Alexandr Kryazhev

At the dawn of the flourishing IT sector, the island of Taiwan was familiar to almost all Russians. It was built and established high-tech production of components for personal computers from motherboards to optical drives, which are then turned into system blocks on our desktops. The oldest Russian network of computer salons even took the name “Formosa” in honor of the historic name of Taiwan — it translates as “Beautiful island”.

In time, Taiwan began to forget, because he is exporter of electronic “raw material”, but nowadays the well known brands only. A local company HTC has made its place under the sun, but few people know, for example, Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of components for Apple, Sony, Xiaomi and other giants in this market segment. Comes to curiosities, friend of a businessman who long worked in Taiwan, complained that in private conversations people confuse the island with Thailand and interested in local beach and massage.

However, these two countries are similar only in name. Taiwan and the size and structure of the economy, and history stands out sharply among other Asian countries. Its main feature remains uninterrupted even for a second conflict with China periodically threatens to turn into a hot phase. Just recently, the Pentagon and the US state Department informally confirmed their willingness to put the rebellious island of the latest weapons at two billion dollars that will clearly add fuel to the fire.

An impregnable fortress

For the first time the Americans officially put abroad tanks “Abrams” M1A2 modifications, they will also give the Taiwanese armed forces antitank and air defense batteries, according to Bloomberg. We are talking about more than one hundred military vehicles and about 1650 armor-piercing missiles “javelin” and 250 “the Stinger”, which was actively used by the Mujahideen against the limited contingent of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. In the “gentleman’s set” will include only 60 previously promised F-16 fighters, although they can sell later — a request for their purchase is still under consideration.

On the background of the growing “trade wars” the US move looks logical: it is hard to hurt people’s Republic of China is stronger than assisting the few who recognized the Republic of China. Beijing has already protested and said about the huge damage that can cause the deal to bilateral relations. By the way, China doesn’t even consider the KR government, but only temporarily released from obedience to the territory of Chinese Taipei. It was under this name Taiwan participates in the Olympic games and other sporting events.

And Taiwan holds large-scale military maneuvers: at the end of may was held the annual exercises “Han Kuang” with the participation of several thousand troops and dozens of units of military equipment. Including the helicopters were used Cobra AH-1W and Apache warships and aircraft of different types.

The plan of the exercise was simple: a reflection of the insular forces of the army of potential naval troops of the PLA. This time the Americans in the exercises was not involved, but previously under the control of the Taiwan Navy Taiwan crossed the Bay of the destroyer Preble and tanker Walter S. Diehl.

China has always been wary of such maneuvers, and it can be understood. For 70 years after the defeat and subsequent escape to Formosa conservatives from the party Kuomintang — the ruling Communist party are all looking for ways to return under the power of Beijing the last fragment of the “other China” that turned into a fortified and surrounded by multiple layers of defense naval fortress.

The best weapon US
The danger for Taiwan is coming not only from China but also from your closest allies. The US for decades supported the island as the supply of arms and diplomatic measures not for the sake of abstract ideas. For the White house, Taiwan is like a needle that can prick a Chinese dragon, while remaining at a safe distance. The United States for 40 years trying to play “and hunt with the hounds”, saying China is in their best intentions, agreeing with its claims to Taiwan, but continuing to maintain close contacts with the partially recognized state.

Taiwan remains the best asset the United States against China, according to the material of the American edition the National Interest. The article, written by a former senior employee of the state Department, considered in detail the opportunity to turn Taiwan into a tool of “nonviolent culture war” similar to that which was conducted against the Soviet Union.

Given the passions around raising tariffs on Chinese goods, this approach if implemented can lead to unintended and extremely dangerous tensions in the South China sea where the situation is so poor: their territorial claims there and in Vietnam, and the Philippines, and Japan.

However, it is not yet clear whether they want the island residents to be victims of “war games,” two world powers. If China in recent decades has sharply left to the right and held a series of economic reforms that have made it a capitalist state, Taiwan, Vice versa, softened the former anti-Communist position. Here in 1996, there were three peaceful transit authority, militant nationalists are in deep opposition, and in society more discuss corruption and gay marriage, than fight with the “big Chinese brother”.

Can the mainland and the island to unite peacefully? This scenario is loosely fit with the current saber rattling, although Taiwan and China have much more in common than it might seem at first glance. One thing is certain: thanks to its unique geographical position, economic and military power of Taiwan remains an important strategic hub in Asia, therefore, the issue of independence or unification with China would be an edge in the coming years.

The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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