by Bill O’Grady | PDF
In Part I, we covered the history of Taiwan, current relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC), and closed with the end of strategic ambiguity. This week, we will analyze the geopolitical importance of Taiwan and the PRC’s military options with regard to Taiwan.
The Importance of Taiwan
As background, we consider the situation between China and Japan a “frozen conflict.” The two countries have fought several wars over the past millennia. Since the end of WWII, due to American security guarantees, Japan has demilitarized. The American presence has allowed China and Japan to expand trade relations and investment. The presence of the U.S. in the region means that Japan and China no longer fear for the security of raw material flows. And, they don’t fear each other. However, the current peace between Japan and China relies on the U.S. hegemonic presence. If America leaves, either by choice or by ouster, the age-old conflict between Japan and China will likely return.
By the same token, the Korean peninsula has been under the control of China or Japan on numerous occasions over history. It is reasonable to assume that if the U.S. presence is reduced, the Koreas will likely face pressure from China and maybe Japan.
The control of Taiwan is critical to the geopolitical situation of the Koreas, Japan, and the Pacific region. Perhaps the clearest expression of the geopolitical importance of Taiwan comes from the late Gen. Douglass MacArthur.