Ukraine Is Not Taiwan
With Russian President Vladimir Putin sending troops into Ukraine, many journalists and analysts—even former President Donald Trump—have jumped to the conclusion that Taiwan is next. “Russia is in the headlines today, but China will be the spearhead of the authoritarian cause,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Michael Shuman.
But there is no direct link between Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s taunting of Taiwan.
Ukraine separated from the Soviet Union just 31 years ago. China and Taiwan have had separate governments for 73 years; they were united under the same regime for just four of the last 127 years. Taiwan is essentially united in wanting to be free of Beijing’s rule, while Ukraine has had to deal with unruly separatist regions loyal to Moscow. Taiwan is a flourishing liberal democracy, while Ukraine has yet to build a lasting democratic infrastructure.
Both countries are threatened by unpredictable nearby autocrats. But they are certainly not the same, and the U.S. hasn’t treated them as such. Kharis Templeman of the Hoover Institution notes that “security support for Ukraine is recent, limited, and subsumed under broader concerns about Russia’s challenge to the post-Cold War European security order”; in Taiwan, by contrast, “American interests run deep.” The U.S. is Taiwan’s primary security partner and source of military aid, training, and arms sales. This history of engagement dates back more than seven decades, and it reflects the fact that Washington sees much more at stake if Taiwan faces aggression.
Chinese President Xi Jinping believes the U.S. is a “fading superpower” that stands in the way of Chinese power. And China and Russia did recently establish an alliance (albeit a thin one). China came to Russia’s defense by supporting an end to NATO expansion, and Russia returned the favor by supporting China’s claim to Taiwan. China has also provided some relief to the Russian economy after the West reacted to the invasion with sanctions.
But China appears to have been surprised by Putin’s military action. Beijing’s response to the war has swayed between two stances it has been trying to hold s
Article from Reason.com