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International Relations

Chinese Incursions in Taiwan

  • 29 Jan 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

The USA has reaffirmed its support for Taiwan following China's warplanes entering Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

  • These overflights were part of a long-standing pattern of incursions by China aimed at pressuring the present democratically elected government of Taiwan to accept China's demand to recognise Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory.

Key Points

  • Conflict between China and Taiwan (Background):
    • China and Taiwan separated amid civil war in 1949 and China considers Taiwan part of its territory to be taken control of by force if necessary.
    • But Taiwan's leaders say that Taiwan is a sovereign state.
    • After decades of hostile intentions and angry rhetoric, relations between China and Taiwan started improving in the 1980s. China put forward a formula, known as "one country, two systems", under which Taiwan would be given significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification.
    • In Taiwan, the offer was rejected, but the government did relax rules on visits to and investment in China.
    • There were also limited talks between the two sides' unofficial representatives, though Beijing's insistence that Taiwan's Republic of China (ROC) government is illegitimate prevented government-to-government contact.
    • China's implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 was seen by many as a yet another sign that Beijing was becoming significantly more assertive in the region.
  • USA vis-a-vis- China over Taiwan:
    • The Chinese government passed an Anti-Secession Law in 2005 that provides conditions under which China might employ non-peaceful means to prevent the permanent separation of Taiwan from mainland China.
    • The USA as part of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) 1979, is required to assist Taiwan if coerced or attacked by China.
    • Thus, the recent chinese incursions and USA’s opposition to it are manifestations of this contradicting stand of the USA and China on Taiwan.
  • USA’s Stand:
    • The USA criticised the pattern of ongoing attempts by China to intimidate its neighbours, including Taiwan.
    • It has urged China to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives.
  • China’s Concerns:
    • USA’s Strategic and Defense Support to Taiwan:
      • Taiwan has sought to improve its defenses with the purchase of USA weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles.
      • The Taiwanese government has also boosted USA’s support for Taiwan’s indigenous arms industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China’s ever-growing naval capabilities.
    • Presence of the USA forces in Neighboring Waters:
      • A USA aircraft carrier group led by the warship Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to ensure freedom of the seas, and build partnerships that foster maritime security.
    • One China Policy Challenged:
      • This means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa.
      • The existent diplomatic relationship of the Taiwan and its membership in intergovernmental organizations challenges this policy:
        • The ROC, Taiwan has diplomatic relations with 15 countries and substantive ties with many others such as Australia, Canada, EU nations, Japan and New Zealand.
        • Besides, Taiwan has full membership in 38 intergovernmental organizations and their subsidiary bodies, including the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Asian Development Bank and Central American Bank for Economic Integration.
  • India’s Stand on the Issue:
    • Since 1949, India has accepted the “One China” policy that accepts Taiwan and Tibet as part of China.
    • However, India uses the policy to make a diplomatic point, i.e., if India believes in “One China” policy, China should also believe in a “One India” policy.
    • Even though India has stopped mentioning its adherence to One China policy in joint statements and official documents since 2010, its engagement with Taiwan is still restricted due to the framework of ties with China.


  • Taiwan - the Republic of China (ROC), home to twenty-three million people, is an island off the southern coast of China that has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949.
  • Its neighbours include China (officially the People’s Republic of China, PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south.
  • Taiwan is the most populous state that is not a member of the United Nations and the largest economy outside the UN.
  • Taiwan is Asia’s 5th largest economy.
  • It is a global leader in chip manufacture and the second-largest manufacturer of IT hardware, etc.

Source: TH

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