According to remarks made by United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China may be growing dissatisfied with the current status quo over the status of Taiwan and that the Asian power might be pursuing a faster timetable for reunification, one which could see coercive measures used. In the worst case scenario, this might mean an outright invasion as a potential option. Needless to say, tensions are rising as a result.
The recent comments by Secretary Blinken are not the only ones made reflecting this perception of a China perhaps more bent towards conflict. The head of the United States Navy has also recently warned that the United States must be prepared for the possibility of an invasion of Taiwan by China before 2024. The possibility of a conflict between such strong states will have massive ramifications for the international system, and the odds of such a violent clash have only increased following the stances taken by the leaders of the United States and China.
President Xi Jinping of China has criticized the support given to Taiwan by the United States, as well as already moved to place the blame for a potential attack on Taiwan on hostile external forces, should his regime feel pressed to attack. President Joe Biden has stated support several times for the intervention of the United States military should China launch an unprovoked attack on Taiwan. Secretary Blinken has also warned of consequences should there be a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait, especially in terms of how it would impact the global economy. According to collected data, almost half of the world’s fleet of container ships, and roughly eighty-eight percent of the world’s largest ships by tonnage, have passed through the Taiwan Strait this year. Further, Taiwan is an extremely important hub for global semiconductor production, which would have extensive ramifications for a wide range of economic sectors should a war disrupt this crucial supply chain.
For their part, China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the losing side of the Chinese Civil War fled there several years after the end of World War II. Part of the policies aimed by China at Taiwan has been a general discouragement of any international support for pro-independence efforts by the government in Taipei. With Xi Jinping continuing to consolidate power in China, the successful reunification of Taiwan with China, even if it required force to do so, might be an appealing means to cement his control and political legacy.