China has escalated its military posturing in a bid to undermine Taiwan’s self-declared sovereignty. On Tuesday, 56 Chinese jets invaded the Taiwanese air defence zone. This brings the number of Chinese jets intruding into the island nation’s air defence zone to a total of 150, so far in the month of October. After Hong Kong, Taiwan is witnessing a sustained escalation in China’s show of power in lands it lays claims on. However, unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan is not under direct or indirect Chinese rule. Taiwan is a small island nation that is not recognized by most countries of the world due to Chinese pressure, and China exploits this diplomatic isolation to violate Taiwan’s claims of sovereignty.
Taiwan has a built a highly-developed economy by being a world-class manufacturer of semiconductors, and consumer durables. Taiwan has a very high GDP per capita and it can invest in some of the best defence systems in the world but it does not have a population large enough to draw able-bodied recruits from in the event of a war with China which has the biggest population on earth. This makes Taiwan’s reliance on foreign powers all the more necessary if it wants to keep a Chinese invasion at bay.
Taiwan has increased its building more strategic partnerships with countries that aim to disrupt China’s expansionist strategies. Taiwan, on Monday, supported the strategic partnership signed by Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS), which would help balance China’s military ambitions in the region. The deal allows Australia to explore options for acquiring eight nuclear submarines over the next decade that are expected to have enough range to patrol the South and East China Seas.
The island nation has also, in recent years, improved bilateral ties with the US to counter China’s strategy of diplomatic isolation. Following the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act by the U.S. Congress on March 16, 2018, relations between the United States and Taiwan have since manoeuvred to an official and high-level basis. Both sides have since signed a consular agreement formalizing their existent consular relations on September 13, 2019. The United States removed self-imposed restrictions on executive branch contacts with Taiwan on January 9, 2021.