To attend to the verbal and even military escalation between Washington and Beijing, Taiwan, with an area somewhat larger than Catalonia and 23 million inhabitants, is the master key to Asian and even global hegemony. It is not a novelty, since first level observers have been pointing it out for years. Paul Wolfowitz, who was part of George Bush Jr.’s teams, gave the island a role similar to that of Berlin divided during the cold war. Robert Kaplan, the rediscoverer of geopolitics, claimed more than seven years ago that “if Taiwan’s de facto independence were compromised, allies like Japan and Australia, including all the countries bordering the South China Sea, would reformulate their security preferences. and they would perfectly accommodate the rise of China ”(Asia’s cauldron. The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific. Random House).
When he wrote his book, Afghanistan was a long way from the fall of the Taliban, Donald Trump was not yet a candidate nor had he challenged the official US policy of recognizing one China. The principle of one country, two systems, and Hong Kong was free. Tsai Ing Wen, the current president, had not reached the highest magistracy with her nationalist program, in favor of a differentiated Taiwanese identity. The Quad, Washington’s alliance with Japan, India and Australia, and the Aukus, with Australia and the United Kingdom, had not started. The newcomer Xi Jinping was far from settling down as an all-powerful president with no term limits. Deng Xiaoping’s foreign policy ruled, under the Machiavellian motto of “hide your abilities and wait for the right moment.”
The dispute is not only territorial, but includes all the edges of an uncontrollable conflict. Historically, it is the last piece of an ancient empire that Beijing wants to recover after the century of colonial humiliation. Economically, it is the first producer of michochips, essential for the global industry. Geographically, it is the gateway to the South China Sea, which empties into the Strait of Malacca and concentrates a third of global maritime traffic. Ideologically, the democratic and liberal showcase against the authoritarian one-party model.
The increasingly risky military movements of each other are disturbing. Also the words of leaders from both shores, who take for granted a military confrontation within the current decade. Xi risks his ambition and his program. Joe Biden, the presence of the US in Asia and even the hegemony in the world. An annexation like that of Crimea by Russia would be the definitive inauguration of the imperial century of communist China. As in the Berlin of the Soviet blockade of 1949 and the construction of the wall in 1961, the threat of a war between two nuclear superpowers hangs over Taiwan.
Sign in to continue reading
Just by having an account you can read this article, it’s free
Thanks for reading EL PAÍS