In this era, we are experiencing an unprecedented situation. A few weeks ago, the US Speaker of the House and third in line to the presidency, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan to demonstrate the attitude of standing with Taiwan. A visit of this level has not happened for thirty years, but this action had its pros and cons. Some Taiwanese think this may provoke China, while some believe this strengthens US support. Pelosi’s visit mirrored the symbolic combat between the US and China. These two powerful countries’ competition is changing the international society dramatically. We are experiencing the era of a new cold war, and as diplomats, we should try to ally with more friends to avoid war.
This new cold war is totally different from the old cold war. During the first cold war, the competition between the US and the Soviet Union was in terms of hard power, such as nuclear missiles or outer space competition. Kenneth Waltz, a prominent realist scholar, said said that the cold war situation represented/showed a balance of power, and it brought peace with its clear stances which can decrease the chances of misunderstandings. In contrast, the new cold war era is much more complicated, in terms of the competition between the US and China not only in hard power, but also everywhere, such as the technology, trade, and supply chain. Taiwan’s importance is not only the location on the first island chain but also its technology, such as microchips. Recently, the US advocated building a stable chip supply chain, and decoupling from the China-centric supply chain, a never before seen situation.
Taiwan, which is located between two powerful countries, is in the center of the conflict as well. From the US perspective, it retreated its troops from Afghanistan in order to stop China’s growth. The US adjusted its strategy and deployed troops in the Pacific Ocean, and also executes “Freedom of Navigation Operations” to defeat China’s growth. In the US interest, the US can defeat China by protecting a democratic country, Taiwan. From China’s perspective, Taiwan is its core interest, and he US’ behavior of protecting Taiwan intervenes in China’s internal politics. Furthermore, President Xi is pursuing a historical position as high as President Mao, so a unified Taiwan is a critical step to achieving it. From these two powerful countries’ perspectives, Taiwan is experiencing tremendous danger.
As a diplomat of Taiwan, we can mitigate crises and be well-prepared through utilizing the international regime and bilateral relations, and also use our soft power to attract like-minded countries. The more friends we have, the safer we are. First, the international regime infers the UN charter, which prohibits the use of force. Otherwise, we can have a talk through some forums such as APEC to get a consensus and support from other allies. From bilateral relations, on (the) one hand, we have to convince the US to sell us more defensive weapons to increase our defensive capacity. On the other hand, we need to start a talk with China to manage crises and decrease misunderstandings. Last, we can use soft power to attract more friends, such as sending masks to countries in need, and they may vote for Taiwan in international organizations or help us when we need them.
In conclusion, we are in the new cold war era, and Taiwan is in an unprecedented situation, but we all are preparing well to overcome it.
Written by Eddie C.
Edited by Ari B.