Amber Countries> Taiwan

At the close of World War II a civil war erupted in China that pitted Communist elements in the country against their former allies and the Nationalist elements. As this was the dawn of the Cold War the US was keen to check Communism wherever it was erupting and thus they financially backed the Nationalists, although they did not get involved in any military sense. The war ended in 1949 when the Nationalist armies were comprehensively defeated. The surviving remnants of this force fled to the Chinese island of Taiwan.

Although they had been resoundingly defeated on the mainland they carried on with a remarkable bravado and announced that the city of Taipei on Taiwan was now the new capital of all of China. As such, they refused to acknowledge that the Communists had won and viewed themselves as being the rulers of China, even though the facts were quite clear that their government only held a sphere of influence that covered the island itself. The Communists for their part refused to acknowledge that these rebels held the island and continued to view it as part of their dominion. As the cold war was now in full swing the US checked any Communist advance to rout these last holdout rebels from the island and so the odd case of modern Taiwan was born. The conflict was frozen in a holding pattern and has continued to this day.

Technically, Taiwan is not an independent nation as both sides of the conflict view themselves as being the rulers of China. But it has grown apart from the mainland in culture and is analogous to Hong Kong and Macau in how capitalism flourished in an outpost of Chinese peoples. The mainland Chinese, for their part, have long threatened that they will eventually attack Taiwan and recapture it. The Taiwanese are split over what they want their future to be. Some wish to reunify with the mainland, albeit after the mainland goes through some social changes of its own, whilst others wish to finally admit that they do not control all of China and secede, becoming their own independent nation with a unique Taiwanese culture. The mainland Chinese threaten that this would be the inevitable spark of a new war between the sides.

As the remnants of the cold war era the US still offers great assistance to several groups in the region as a counter to Communism. South Korea is held up against North Korea, and of course, Taiwan is offered immense support to act as a buffer to China. The US military presence in the region has thus served as a buffer to protect these nations from their traditional enemies. Should a greater showdown be brewing between China and the US in the new world war then this region risks further conflict as part of this. Even if the Chinese are not directly opposing the US they may take advantage of the US’s over stretched military, once it is comprehensively bogged down in the middle east, and could attack Taiwan.

The Taiwanese are obviously aware of this fact and they held the largest practice run war games in over 30 years, back in July 2006, during the Lebanon crisis. They also broadcast to the west the urgent need for a restocking of their missile and other weapons supplies. It is probably safe to assume that those weapons have been steadily arriving over the past few months as the new showdown with Iran approaches and as the North Koreans have conducted their nuclear test.

map of Taiwan