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The Quad and Taiwan Strait

Posted May. 23, 2023 07:53,   

Updated May. 23, 2023 07:53


As I embarked on my first visit to China, I recall an encounter with a guide who ominously claimed that China had all the preparations in place for a potential invasion of Taiwan. Along the shoreline, military forces stood at the ready, creating an atmosphere of anticipation, as if awaiting a command from their president, he said. Fast forward 30 years, and I find myself repeatedly fielding inquiries about China's intentions regarding Taiwan. Reflecting on it, I realize that such questions have been a constant companion throughout these three decades.

Dismissively responding, "No, despite hearing such questions for thirty years, nothing has transpired," would be a naïve answer. History has taught us that even after centuries of tranquility, war can erupt overnight.

Presently, tensions in the region have reached unprecedented levels. China has become markedly stronger over the past three decades, elevating its global standing. Engaging in a confrontation with the United States, it has garnered support from various corners of the Third World. Some pundits even argue that the yuan poses a tangible threat to the dollar's dominance. Conversely, the United States and Europe find themselves grappling with the weight of the Ukrainian conflict, while their economic stability teeters precariously.

Over the past thirty years, Taiwan's political and economic landscapes have weathered significant turbulence. Both the military and the defense consciousness of its citizens have experienced a noticeable decline. While there is now a professed commitment to introspection and readiness, it is important to remember that war preparations cannot be accomplished overnight. Nevertheless, concerns surrounding China's expansionist aspirations and maritime ambitions have been palpable for several years. Thus, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, has taken shape as a collective defense alliance with the active participation of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.

From its inception, the Quad has presented South Korea with a challenging dilemma - a proverbial double-edged sword. The United States has urged its participation, while China remains glaring its eyes toward the country. South Korea finds itself divided as maintaining a neutral stance between these two global powers proves increasingly difficult. However, it is crucial to recognize that the current situation cannot be dismissed as a mere clash of giants, leaving the smaller nations to suffer. South Korea's national strength has surpassed that of a mere small nation, and the fate of Taiwan is undeniably intertwined with our own.

The preservation of peace can be pursued through two distinct approaches. The first follows the path of the gentleman, avoiding conflicts and striving for harmonious coexistence. The second is the path of the tiger and the wolf, characterized by fierce competition and mutual constraint. While the former may appear idyllic, it may reveal itself as a facade upon closer inspection. One must contemplate whether such a harmonious moment has ever existed in the annals of human history.