Crisis in Ukraine could be a harbinger of Taiwan's future
The China Post news staff
March 9, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
The crisis in Ukraine, just like those in Egypt or Syria, does not seem to have much bearing on Taiwan. But Russia's military intervention and Crimea's planned self-determination vote have set us to wonder about implications for Taiwan.
Some local commentators have already noted that Taiwan and Ukraine share some similarities in relation to the big powers: Ukraine is torn between the European Union and Russia, and Taiwan between the United States and China.
Russia's latest intervention shows its keenness to reassert control on what used to be a part of the Soviet Union — or at least to regain a major part of it in the shape of Crimea, the majority of the population being Russian.
Nationalism is definitely not the only reason behind Russia's ambition, but that nationalistic side of the crisis reminds us of our own difficult situation here in Taiwan.
China has always maintained its sovereignty over Taiwan, claims that are endorsed and recognized by most of the world, including the United States and the United Nations. China has vowed to resort to force to reclaim the island should Taiwan declare formal independence.
But Washington has always been playing a game of ambiguity toward Taiwan. The United States has been the major supplier of weapons for Taiwan to defend itself against China, but it has never made any explicit pledges that it will come to the rescue should cross-strait war ever break out.
Inside Taiwan, it has always been a guessing game as far as U.S. support is concerned: Pro-independence fundamentalists usually choose to believe that Washington will never give up one of its most important strategic allies along the Pacific Rim as a casualty of China's military expansion.
The strong concern that the United States has voiced over China's increased military spending demonstrates Washington's strategic priorities in the region. Adm. Samuel Locklear, a U.S. Pacific commander, has noted that Washington is most concerned by China's introduction of military capabilities apparently aimed at thwarting the U.S. ability to protect its allies in the Pacific region.