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For years, the united states have approached Taiwan with a particular interest, putting Taiwan in the middle of the longstanding US-China conflict. Amidst the issue surrounding the competition and conflicting policies between the united states and China, Taiwan has devolved into what can be termed policy football. According to Bush (2015), in the middle of United States-China, competition in Taiwan, a vibrant island of 23 million, has been reduced to a policy point. The relationship between Taiwan and the united states has been fundamental before and after world war II, even when it was a Japanese colony before 1945. Recently, President Joe brought the Taiwan issue to the headlines again when he declared his intentions to help defend Taiwan from the Chinese attack. So, this begs the question, why is the united state so interested in Taiwan? This paper looks at the relationship between the united states and Taiwan, where it discusses why Taiwan is necessary for the U.S and the role of the U.S in the Taiwan and China conflicts.
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Taiwan’s Importance to the United States
One of the biggest reasons the United States maintains a relationship and interest in Taiwan is the fact that Taiwan is a leading technological powerhouse and democracy in the indo-pacific region. Although the U.S has no diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, a robust relationship exists where the two economies share similar values, a strong relationship between the citizens of both economies, and deep commercial and economic links. This relationship, however, has been consistent over the decades and administrations.
Over time, Taiwan has remained a trade partner and investment partner in health and semiconductor, among other critical supplies of science and technology. Taiwan is so important to the united states owing to its advancement that its economy produced around 786 billion dollars in goods and services in 2021 (Fenn, 2022). The economic relationship between the united states and Taiwan extends deeply into financial, commercial, and trade ties, which helps create economic opportunities and helps advance the U.S agenda. Taiwan is the eighth-largest trade partner to the United States, while the U.S ranks second to Taiwan. It is estimated that in 2020, cumulative Taiwanese investment in the U.S was 137 billion dollars, leading to 21000 jobs and 1.5 Billion dollars in income to the United States through Export (Fenn, 2022). Taiwan’s Direct investment in the United States was majorly manufacturing, depository institutions, and wholesale trade.
Another reason the United States maintains the relationship and interest with Taiwan is its geostrategic positioning in Asia content. Taiwan is located in the center of the first islands of China. Both Washington and Beijing know of the geostrategic importance of Taiwan, especially to the united states, to contain Chinese military projection. This positioning has been in play since the cold war, and the United States has come to understand the significance of neutral Taiwan and the unpredictable consequences if they let China take Taiwan by force (Bush, 2015). Others, however, differ from this reason and claim that Taiwan’s importance to the United States administration is the people where people to people relationship between the two economies is strengthened by their shared values. These reasons are vital to the united states maintaining its ties with Taiwan.
Role of the US in the Taiwan and China Conflict
Since 1949, Taiwan has been governed separately and independently from China. However, Beijing views the island as a part of its territory and vows to unify the two, Taiwan and mainland China by all means, even if it means using force. The tension is increasingly rising with fears as Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on Taiwan. According to “United States intervention in the China – Taiwan conflict over Taiwan territorial sovereignty” (2022), this has brought fears that the United States and China could go to war over Taiwan, begging the question, what is the Role of the United States in the conflict?
The U.S involvement in the conflict dates back to 1979, when they established formal diplomatic ties with the People’s republic of China and severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, then known as the Republic of China (Bush, 2015). This also repealed the mutual defense treaty with Taiwan. However, to date United states maintains a thriving unofficial relationship with Taiwan and still sells defense equipment to them, although Beijing tries to urge the U.S to stop selling weapons to Taiwan and cease contact with Taipei.
Through their strategic ambiguity policy, the united states, in the past decades, tried to maintain a delicate balance between supporting Taiwan for their ties and preventing war with China. The United States has, over time, implored both Taipei and Beijing to maintain the status quo. This can be attributed to the unknown consequences the U.S fears when China takes military control over Taiwan (Maizland, 2022). This may be the reason behind the recent turn by Joe Biden, where he claims that if China Attacks Taiwan, the United States will come to Taiwan’s defense. The claim only repeals the U.S involvement in the conflict. Although they have been using ambiguity to maintain the status quo, if need be, They are ready to come gun brazing and help Taiwan, confirming fears that an attack on Taiwan might lead to a China-United States war.
In conclusion, the relationship between the United States and Taiwan is essential to the United States, although informal. This can be attributed to the geostrategic positioning of the island to China and their technological and economic advancement. In an attempt to maintain the status quo and participate in the conflict ambiguously, the united states had to initiate diplomatic ties with mainland China, which injured the diplomatic relations with Taiwan but maintained a thriving unofficial relationship (Bush, 2015). The interests in trade and military control over China make Taiwan so crucial to the United States to the extent of offering to come to Taiwan’s defense in a situation the conflict between Taiwan and China escalated to Military war.
- Bush, R. C. (2015). At cross purposes: U.S.-Taiwan relations since 1942. doi:10.4324/9781315706252
- Fenn, J. (2022). Why Is Taiwan Important to the United States? Newsweek. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/why-taiwan-important-united-states-china-1712363
- Maizland, L. (2022). Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/china-taiwan-relations-tension-us-policy-biden?gclid=CjwKCAjw0dKXBhBPEiwA2bmObfwTCZICuS_oEzpaiPQLQ-OAUn3N9KGTjt39jdCOa9wBHAqPf0zUjRoCl20QAvD_BwE
- United States intervention in the China – Taiwan conflict over Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty. (2022). International Journal of Social Science and Human Research, 05(06). doi:10.47191/ijsshr/v5-i6-37