(OPINION) “We can only avoid a war by preparing for a war,” said Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, approaching the end of 2022 with a stern message for her people. “Taiwan needs to strengthen our ability to defend ourselves,” Tsai said, announcing that from 2024, compulsory military service would be extended from four months to a full year.

“No one wants war,” she said. “But, my fellow countrymen, peace will not fall from the sky.” The Taiwan dispute has festered since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the defeated nationalists fled to the island. The victorious Communists have been determined to take it ever since. Now, the threat of war has seemed closer than at any time in decades. In August 2022, China launched its largest military exercises in a generation — seen by many as a rehearsal for a blockade or even invasion.

“They fired missiles to the waters near Taiwan. They conducted very large-scale air and sea exercises. They conducted cyber attacks,” said Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu. “Put it all together. This is what they want to do to Taiwan when they want to invade Taiwan.” Wu spoke to DW as part of a new documentary that uncovers why the Taiwan dispute is so intractable — and explores whether a disastrous war can be avoided.


Increasingly, China makes no bones about its goals. “We in mainland China believe that Taiwan is part of China and we have to reunify with Taiwan,” said Zhou Bo, a former senior colonel in China’s military, now at Tsinghua University.

“The only question is through what means: whether they will be peaceful or whether we have to use force.” Addressing the Communist Party Congress in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he would “strive for the prospect of a peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and greatest efforts.”

But “peaceful reunification” looks like a fantasy. Just 6.4% of people in Taiwan seek it, either immediately or at some point in the future, according to the most recent survey data from Taiwan’s National Chengchi University. So if Xi really is determined to get Taiwan, force appears the only option. (SOURCE)


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