China Grows Anxious About Taiwan Reunification

Jun 12, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

In this photograph, Taiwanese sailors stand on a U.S.-made Guppy-class submarine in southern Taiwan on Jan. 18, 2017.

Taiwanese sailors stand in front of the sail of a U.S.-made Guppy-class submarine in southern Taiwan, on Jan. 18, 2017. Taiwan conducted two days of military drills simulating an attack by China as the government sought to reassure the public in the face of deteriorating relations with Beijing.

(SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)


  • Tensions between China and Taiwan have reached a decade high, but Beijing is unlikely to take military action unless Taipei declares independence.
  • The changing strategic picture in the region and increased tension between Washington and Beijing will only boost Taiwan's importance in the coming decade.
  • A younger, more independence-minded Taiwanese generation could clash with China's goal of achieving national reunification.
  • China has played a long game of carrot-and-stick with Taiwan, alternating between military threats and economic sweeteners, but the clock may be ticking down to a confrontation.

One of the biggest obstacles to China's campaign for "national rejuvenation," President Xi Jinping's plan to guide the country to world prominence, lies across 180 kilometers (112 miles) of water on the island of Taiwan. The mainland's drive to return China to a position of global strength -- which it hopes to complete by 2049 -- includes reunification with Taiwan. The remnants of the Nationalist Party that fled to the island during the civil war that raged in China after the end of World War II remain there, creating a situation that the Communist victors of that war cannot accept. Successive governments in Beijing have tried to reclaim or to reintegrate the island; at a minimum, they have sought to prevent it from pulling away. However, their efforts have had mixed results, and over the past few decades, Taiwanese nationalism has continued to rise. Today, the island's younger generations are...

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