Written by Karolina Wysoczanska.
Since 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost the civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communist forces and set up a government in Taiwan, the relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) has proven to be infinitely complex encompassing questions of sovereignty, politics and security.
Beijing’s very recent decision to open four flight routes close to the median line within the Taiwan Strait look set to reinforce these questions and stir-up further conflict. To shed light on this complex relationship, in the next two weeks, Taiwan Insight will publish a series of articles concentrating on Cross-Strait relations with a major focus on air safety.
In the first article published this week June Teufel Dreyer will analyse China’s united front work in Taiwan. Although China’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) is active in many countries, especially in those with large Chinese diaspora communities, special efforts have been made within Taiwan. These efforts include organising a pro-Beijing political party in Taiwan, targeting political and business figures as well as sponsoring organised criminal activities to destabilise Taiwanese society and gain support for China’s rule of the island.
Yang Shih-Yueh focuses on more recent events regarding the M503 route and discusses whether the opening of the route by the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration poses a threat to Taiwan’s security. From his point of view, the M503 route is a civil route for airliners and has nothing to do with the island’s national security.
Our Editor Chun-yi Lee, on the other hand, argues that although the opening of the route might not be perceived as a direct threat to Taiwan’s national security, it puts civilian’s lives in danger as a lack of communication between Beijing and Taipei leaves Taiwan’s own aviation control in the dark. Moreover, she argues that China’s behaviour is another move to undermine Taiwan’s sovereign status.
Russell Hsiao, takes a firmer stand. He claims that Beijing’s decision to open the M503 route is a direct threat to Taiwan’s security as the air space in China is primarily controlled by the military. Moreover, it is consistent with an increasing use of hybrid warfare that emphasises non-military instruments to pursue China’s interest outside its borders and manifest its ‘One-China’ principle.
Joseph Bosco in his article unravels the underlying factors behind Beijing’s approach towards Taiwan and its ‘One-China’ principle. Bosco explains how the control over the island would have major economic, diplomatic, and political implications for the region. It would constitute a huge asset for China and a threat to Asia as well as to the United States.
Finally in his essay, Mark Wenyi Lai looks at the recent developments in cross-Strait relations from a structural point of view and offers some very interesting insights by applying the logic of game theory. He argues that the M503 incident created both losers and winners. The biggest winners are the Chinese military and aviation sector. Taiwanese people living and working in China are the victims. The respective governments in Beijing and Taipei, trapped in complex relations are both, winners and losers.