What Can Taiwan Learn from Ukraine (to help them beat China)





naturally, over the last couple of months, a ton of attention has been poured into Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing conflict within the country the whole world is anxiously watching what's going to happen next but there's one country with a special interest in the situation a country who has a much bigger neighbor a country whose neighbor also questions their right to exist a country which fears it could be next Taiwan so in this blog we're going to examine the potential future conflict in Taiwan and explain what the country and its adversary China are already learning from the Ukraine conflict so it probably makes sense to start by 

outlining the players in the conflict and there's three that are worth considering well there's actually a few 

more but to keep it simple let's start with just the three Taiwan China and the United States considering this blog is all about the territorial integrity of Taiwan it makes sense to start there Taiwan depending who you ask is either an independent self-governing island nation or part of China which resists control from the mainland regardless though Taiwan officially the Republic of China has existed in some form since running nine rounds of legislative elections and seven rounds of presidential elections since demographic reforms began in the late 90s eventually turning the country into one of the continent's leading democracies and also an economic power being the world's largest producer of semiconductors a position which is increasingly important in the current world their neighbors China need little introduction ruled by an increasingly autocratic xi Jinping neither the state nor the ruling ccp party consider Taiwan to be an independent nation for the simple reason that they view Taiwan as an indivisible part of China after the second world war Taiwan which had been ruled by the Japanese became ruled by the mainland then the republic of China until a civil war broke out between China's then leader and his troops and China's communist army China's leader was forced to flee by the army so him and his supporters ended up in Taiwan effectively forcing the republic of China out of China allowing for the formation of the people's republic of China on the mainland in the eyes of Beijing though this isn't a distinction worth making and Taiwan is no different to the mainland, it's all part of one China therefore, it's been theorized for years that China might be about to invade Taiwan and take the country back under their firm grip in fact we even made a blog about it a while ago and it's easy to see why people might suspect this is going to happen when it comes to their military China certainly outnumbers Taiwan by an unbelievable 20 to 1 ratio in dollar terms and it's not just China increasing the size of their army Taiwan has also shrunk theirs with military spending falling from 2.7 of GDP in 2000 to 1.9 in 2020. Taiwan might be outgunned then but it does have apowerful ally or at least kind of the united states I say kind of because Taiwan doesn't really have many allies in fact, remember what I said earlier that some people consider Taiwan an independent state and others don't well here's all the countries that think Taiwan is sovereign and no I haven't forgotten to color in some of the map that is, it just 13 countries officially view Taiwan as independent you might be wondering what's happening with the us I said they were friends with Taiwan earlier so why aren't they coloured in well, it's all complicated somewhat by America's policy of strategic ambiguity essentially the us finds itself in a slightly difficult position whether the us likes it or not China is a huge international power it's a major supplier to the us and given its population it's politically significant on the world stage while the us to recognize Taiwan as fully independent then it could end up snowballing into a full diplomatic spat which nobody wants so, the us has basically decided not to poke the elephant in the room and just sit and watch but this strategic ambiguity is the very point the language of the Taiwan relations act is deliberately unclear as to whether the us would intervene if China invaded this ultimately works to discourage China from invasion just in case of American retaliation while also discouraging Taiwan from formally declaring their independence because they can never guarantee that the us would actually support them in the ensuing fallout strategic ambiguity is, therefore, a deterrent from escalating tensions between both sides but when it comes to deterrence it's not just America that Taiwan has on its side they also have a natural deterrent its island status makes it hard to invade certainly harder than Ukraine after all being an island it's far far more difficult to physically get troops and heavy equipment safely quickly and discreetly in position you'll be able to see the warships coming a mile off but being an island is a double-edged sword yes it makes it harder to invade but it also makes it harder to support even if countries are willing to back them as they've done with Ukraine many of the supplies are being sent to Ukraine are being delivered quickly and cheaply by road and rail but if Taiwan were to be invaded sending aid by road or rail clearly isn't an option which leaves the air and sea air would be incredibly dangerous given anti-aircraft missile systems would likely shoot down any aircraft flying to Taiwan which ultimately just leaves the sea sea which could quite easily be blockaded by China's army but the difficulty won't end with their supporters sending supplies across the sea their backers will also struggle with economic sanctions that's because many countries are going to be significantly more concerned about annoying China than they were with Russia and even if nations aren't reticent to act acting will be economically more challenging when it comes to China China is so ingrained in the global economy that essentially every nation relies on them to some extent so just turning them off isn't really an option at least without significantly more economic pain but it won't just be Taiwan learning from this conflict China too will be watching very closely some hope that Putin's failures might dissuade she from acting but this has always been a personal ambition for the Chinese president and although he wanted to take Taiwan back without having to resort to force Putin's failure is unlikely to make him relent xi will likely take some military lessons from this conflict though he might prefer a peaceful takeover but he's been increasing the power of the Chinese military for years China now has a larger naval fleet than the us at least by ship count and it's also developed a huge raft of anti-air and anti-ship missiles to push back any us or allied support with China also hoping to significantly increase the size of their nuclear arsenal in order to put countries off supporting Taiwan in the first place the core lesson for China though isn't just about military heft it's about speed it's widely believed that Putin thought his army was strong enough to take Kyiv and force a Ukrainian surrender in a matter of days and g will want to do the same learning from Russia that if victory isn't swift it allows the defender time to realign and pull support in from the international community and the role of the international community could end up being key if this happens as you saw the world isn't quite ready to recognize Taiwan's legitimacy but that's not their only hurdle Ukraine might not be in Nato but it does have the powerful backing of the alliance able to pull in support from neighboring member countries but Asia just doesn't have this kind of alliance the quad does hold some weight but it's simply not the same and even if there was a true Asian Nato it looks unlikely that Taiwan would even be allowed in anyway, but Taiwan do have some friends Japan for instance wouldn't want to get involved but they're likely keen enough to resist China's dominance in the region that they could put aside their generally, pacifist attitudes if necessary support from the country would likely involve allowing other allies especially the us to lead the fight from bases within their territory and this could end up being a pivotal strategic role for Japan with many suggesting that a us offensive couldn't reasonably function without Japanese support but their sizable navy could also end up playing a role ultimately, we don't know how all of this will play out or who will side with who but what the war in Ukraine has clarified is the importance of allies and timing if it does come to war Taiwan will want to emulate Ukraine gaining support from the world until real tangible support can arrive China on the other hand will want to learn from Putin's mistake and strike hard before that support has time to build momentum and before anyone works out how to effectively sanction the economic giant both countries and their allies are keen to avoid all of this Taiwan will continue to avoid provoking China and attempt to continue living in the limbo of their current status quo while China will continue with their grey area attacks and cyber and misinformation campaigns in an attempt to get Taiwan to reunify peacefully.