TAIBEI – So far, Russia is promoting an offensive against Ukrainemany analysts and Internet users compare it to Taiwan, another place that could face the invasion of its larger neighbor – China.
Although similarities exist – Taiwan is a democracy that has withstood threats from a more powerful authoritarian government, the differences are much greater. For many on the island, the war in Ukraine, and the war in general, is felt far away.
“I think our situation is not very similar to the situation in Ukraine, whether it is political or in terms of ties,” said Ethan Lin, a 40-year-old service worker. “China has a lot of exchanges with Taiwan in several areas, so I don’t think it’s that dangerous.”
Taiwan, an island with a population of 23 million people, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from China’s east coast, is self-governing, but is claimed by China. The problem has been exacerbated for decades after Taiwan’s pro-independence President Cai Yingwen headed in 2016, and China has stepped up military pressure on the islandsending ships to nearby waters and fighters in his direction.
On Tuesday, the Eastern Command of the People’s Liberation Army of China announced that it had recently conducted a landing exercise at an undisclosed location in the East China Sea.
A critical question for Taiwan is whether the United States, which does not send troops to defend Ukraine, will intervene in the event of a Chinese invasion. The United States has no official ties to Taiwan, but has historical relations and sells weapons to Taiwan for billions of dollars. He is also obliged to provide it with his own law Taiwan can defend itself.
Taiwan is also a dominant player in the production of semiconductors used in everything from smartphones to cars.
“Taiwan’s economy and technology are important to the United States, and perhaps the United States will value Taiwan more, but we need to see how the conflict unfolds,” said Kao-Chen Wang, a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. at Tamkang University in Taiwan.
On Friday, Taiwan announced it would join global sanctions against Russia, though it did not provide details on what the measures would be.
“We can’t sit back while the big government is making fun of the little neighbor,” said Wang Ting-yu, a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party Tsai. wrote on Twitter.
China and Taiwan split during the 1949 civil war. The United States severed official diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 to recognize Beijing.
While Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that “peaceful reunification” is in the interests of both sides, the Taiwan Cabinet Office at the Chinese cabinet level regularly issues angry threats to destroy the steps of Taiwanese politicians who continue to pursue an independent country, though it has only 14 diplomatic allies left.
China does not rule out the use of force if reunification is needed, but so far military action remains unlikely and external events will have relatively little impact on Beijing’s calculations, said Li Mingjiang, a Chinese international relations expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
“China’s external influence on Taiwan’s decision is minimal,” Lee said, adding that China will continue to use information campaigns and peaceful incentives to influence public opinion about Taiwan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is different from Xi and has previously used force against other countries, such as neighboring Georgia, said Wang, a professor at Tamkan University. “Xi Jinping is quite strong, but he increased military activity, not started a war.”
In Taipei, the bustling capital, salesman Peter Chang doubted China would attack. “I don’t think even internally they are that stable now,” he said.
The Communist Party of China, a Global Times newspaper, compared Taiwan to Ukraine’s separatist eastern Donetsk region, where the conflict first erupted in 2014. Former US President Donald Trump predicted that Taiwan would be attacked in an interview this week in which he praised Putin’s actions.
But Chinese officials are more cautious. “Taiwan is not really Ukraine,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunin said this week, insisting that Taiwan is an integral part of China.
On Matsu, a group of nearby Taiwanese islands whose nearest point is just 10 kilometers (6 miles) from China, Taiwanese politician Wen Li is not giving up on a possible invasion. But he rejected simplified comparisons with Ukraine.
“Lazy comparisons often fuel the inevitable triumphant narrative for China or weaken confidence in democracies, ignoring the different contexts for each region,” Wen, director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Matsu branch, wrote in an email.
“People in Matsu are always on the alert, but discussions about Chinese threats are usually based on concrete observations, not on a foreign crisis,” he said, adding that there was no military build-up yet.
Associated Press video journalist Taijing Wu contributed to the report.
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