There is no sign of abatement of Russia’s aggressive war on Ukraine even after six months. Already over 10,000 people are reported to have lost their lives. There is no exact estimate of destruction of properties. As we explained in Proletarian Era dated 01-03-22, this war is basically a political reflection of contradiction between the two imperialist powers—the US and Russia—vying with each other over domination on Ukraine to establish economic and political hegemony. Now another rumbling of war is heard centring Taiwan. Here too the contending forces are two imperialist super-powers —the US and China. As the war cries in the Middle East fomented by the US imperialists are a bit subsiding, a new front is opened in Eastern Asia. It is evident that both the US-led NATO and Russia would act to prolong the war in Ukraine as long as possible with a view to fuelling militarization of their respective crisis-ridden economies, diverting brewing people’s discontent in their respective countries and fomenting national jingoism. The war-monger US imperialists want to open another front in Taiwan while imperialist China also threatens with countermeasures. All these confirm and reconfirm the teaching of great Lenin that ‘‘imperialism generates war’’.
Taiwan is an island, roughly 100 miles from the coast of south east China. To the south of the island is the Bashi Channel, part of the Luzon Strait, one of the few international waterways through which China’s naval forces can safely thread their way among the island chain and reach the expansive Western Pacific. Taiwan first came under full Chinese control in the 17th Century when the Qing dynasty began administering it. Then, in 1895, after losing the first Chinese- Japanese war, it gave up the island to Japan. The island was handed back again in 1945 to China, then still under Kuomintang rule headed by Chiang Kai-shek, after Japan lost World War II. But when the revolutionary struggle in China under the leadership of great Mao Zedong achieved victory in 1949 and declared establishment of People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing, Chiang Kai-shek, the defeated chief of nationalist party known as Kuomintang (and communist hater) and his army retreated to Taiwan, where they ruled for the next several decades calling Taiwan as the Republic of China (ROC). Chiang declared Marshall law in ROC. Initially, a one party bourgeois rule under Chiang Kai-shek was established there. Later, bourgeois democracy, that too, strictly speaking, not a full-fledged one, was established. Both socialist China and Taiwan recognized only ‘one China’. While great Mao Zedong, the architect of Chinese Revolution, attempted to resolve, what the Chinese Communist Party considered as continuing civil war going on in Taiwan, peacefully through negotiations, even offering Chiang Kai-shek a role to play in the mainland government. Chiang on the other hand was completely opposed to socialism and any solution other than infiltration of the mainland and overthrow of the socialist regime. Taiwan got huge economic aid from US and with that, projected its rise in per capita income to flaunt its economic growth. On the other hand, US imperialists right from the beginning have been placing its naval fleet in the Taiwan Strait, its military in Taiwan to make it military protectorate. One flashpoint is that in 1958, Chiang used his American naval and air weapons to harass Socialist China’s shipping, and trying to land spies, saboteurs and armed gangs on Matsu and Quemoy islands adjoining the mainland always dreaming of capturing power in mainland China thinking ‘starving’ people would welcome him. Chiang was massing more than one fourth of his troops there. US also ordered its notorious 7th Fleet stationed there to be ready for war in support of Chiang. In defence, the then socialist China under Mao Zedong had to retaliate militarily to protect socialism and demanded withdrawal of US military from the Taiwan strait. Socialist China also called for renewing the Sino-American ambassadorial talks which was agreed upon in Geneva conference in 1954 but then suspended from 1955. At that time, Soviet Union also threatened to engage itself militarily to repeal US aggression. Under pressure, US imperialists de-escalated its war initiatives but did not withdraw its fleet.
At that time, the then US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles while spelling out US policy toward socialist China declared that Americans were obliged to ‘‘do all that they could to contribute to the passing of the Chinese People’s Republic’’ However, by 1970 Canada and some other western countries had established diplomatic relations with socialist China. In 1971, US reversed its policy and announced that it favoured UN membership for both Communist China (PRC) as well as Nationalist China (ROC) meaning Taiwan. The same year the UN voted to admit socialist China and to expel Taiwan. In 1972, US President Nixon visited China and agreed to gradually withdraw US military forces and installations from Taiwan. However, pertinent to mention here, though the US for the last 51years, has only recognized one China —that is the People’s Republic of China, it has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), instrument through which the US conducts legal arms sales to Taiwan, an ongoing commitment to the island’s self-defence against socialist China. US imperialists held that they wanted to ensure the future of Taiwan determined by peaceful means ‘‘consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people in Taiwan’’. TRA also stipulates that US would maintain its own ‘‘capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of Taiwan’’. In fact, despite recognizing one China policy, the US have been selling huge arms to Taiwan, thereby keeping up an ambiguous, if not suspicious, stand. Armaments worth of $750 million were sold in April 2021, of $100 million in February and of $95 million in April.
When China, a people’s democratic republic under stewardship of great Mao Zedong, talked of ‘One China’ policy, the leadership of socialist China held, as mentioned, that there would be only one Chinese government. Under this, the then Chinese government stated that Taiwan is a part of the country, and set to be reunited with the mainland soon. India was first to acknowledge this policy in 1949. Then other countries like the members of the powerful imperialist bloc G-7 also recognized the ‘One China’ policy. G-7 countries, that include the United States and Japan, say even today that there is ‘‘no change in the respective one-China policies, where applicable, and basic positions on Taiwan of the G7 members’’. In between, however one significant event has taken place in China. After demise of Mao Zedong, and close thereafter of Zhou Enlai, the revisionist clique led by Deng Xiaoping usurped power and initiated the process of counter-revolution which was finally completed in 2004. Thereafter, China has become an imperialist power. So, the objective with which socialist China viewed ‘One China’ policy is not the same with the contention of the present imperialist Chinse rulers. Socialist China held that there would be only one sovereign state under the name China, with the PRC serving as the sole legitimate government of both the lands. It rightly regarded the rule of Chiang Kai-shek, the agent of reaction and arch enemy of socialism, in Taiwan as continuation of long and bitter civil war, and an internal affair of China. So, it rightly gave call of ‘One China’ to prevent imperialist powers befriending Chiang. The present Chinese imperialism also pretends to be following that legacy but their intention is to gain supremacy through aggressive moves and emerge as a leading imperialist superpower, and thus to prevent US-led intervention or dominance in that part of the globe by using Taiwan as a springboard. Naturally, the present Chinese rulers, as is typical of imperialism, are also aggressively extending their sphere of influence and have emerged as a powerful contending force against US imperialism. It is also strengthening its grip over Indo-Pacific Ocean and neighbouring countries through its notorious scheme of BRICS. Against this growing threat of Chinese imperialism, US is also combining Japan, India and Australia within QUAD bloc. Taiwan issue is also viewed by them from that perspective. Yet, if one sees impartially and logically, ‘One China’ policy would obviously look legitimate. US also signed three different agreements— Joint Communiques it made with China in 1972, 1979 and 1982— affirming that China is one country and Taiwan is a province of China. On the other hand, Taiwanese rulers hold the ‘One-China principle’ and maintains its claim that under the ROC Constitution (passed by the Kuomintang government in 1947 in Nanjing), the ROC has sovereignty over most of China, including, by their interpretation, both mainland China and Taiwan.
Chinese authorities at present claim that Taiwan is bound by an understanding known as the 1992 consensus, which was then reached between representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) party that then ruled Taiwan. However, the current bourgeois rulers of Taiwan do not agree on the content of this consensus and argue that it was never intended to address the question of Taiwan’s legal status. In any case, it is evident that both US and China have interest in Taiwan, both from economic as well as geo-political angles. Moreover, imperialist China is also engulfed in severe economic problems. So, like other imperialist powers like US, Russia and those of Europe, China also needs war tension. As in Europe, there is rivalry between US and Russia as to who would have more domination there, similarly there is a conflict between US and China over domination in the Indo-pacific region,
Economy of Taiwan
As indicated above, Taiwan is by now a highly advanced capitalist economy having received huge amount of US economic aid, and producing an estimated $786 billion in goods trade ties, which advance US interests and help create economic opportunities in the United States. Last year, Taiwan moved up one place to become US’s eighth-largest trading partner. Taiwan is important for the rest of the world because much of the world’s everyday electronic equipment—from phones to laptops, watches and games consoles—is powered by computer chips made in Taiwan. By one measure, a single Taiwanese company—the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company or TSMC— has over half of the world’s market. TSMC plans to build a $12-billion chip factory in the US The semiconductor industry is a priority for the U.S. ‘containment’ of China. But reality is that Taiwan’s annual exports to China come to $126.2 billion, almost double its exports to the U.S. of $65.9 billion. The Chinese consumer goods manufacturing industry depends on exports from Taiwan but Taiwan depends on heavy energy and consumer product imports. So, hostility towards China might cost its economy dearly. Secondly, if any armed conflict in the Taiwan straits creates a split in the chip supply chain and semiconductor industry, both imperialist US and China would face setback, let alone the severe blow to Taiwanese economy.
Why is India non-committal so far?
India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan yet, as it formally follows the ‘One China policy’. But India has an office in Taipei for diplomatic functions – India-Taipei Association (ITA)-which is headed by a senior diplomat. Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC) in Indian capital New Delhi. Both were established in 1995. Thus, India has been maintaining ties with both the sides. However, in recent time, Indian imperialist rulers who are clearly tilted towards US imperialism and soliciting its help to emerge as a superpower not only in Asia but in the world, is trying to play up its relationship with Taiwan as its ties with China have been strained—not because of border conflicts but also from the perspective of imperialist-imperialist contradiction. India has even handpicked its joint secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs— to become its envoy in Taipei. The ruling BJP also asked two of its MPs to attend the swearing-in ceremony of new Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen through virtual mode on 20 May 2016. Yet, India has so far been non-committal on the tension building around Taiwan following sudden visit of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States of America’s House of Representatives, to its capital Taipei and has refrained from issuing any politically-loaded statement.
What triggered present war tension in Taiwan
The Indo-Pacific region is on the boil a week after a Taipei visit by Nancy Pelosi, third in the US hierarchy of power, and the highest-ranking American to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Pelosi’s visit was announced in March last but reportedly postponed because of resurgence of Covid 19. Her visit to Taiwan came days after Chinese President Xi Jinping had asked US President Joe Biden not to send Nancy to Taiwan as it might escalate tension. But US refused to pay any heed to that. Naturally, it has sparked anger among the Chinese authorities. For Chinese imperialism, the presence of a senior American figure in Taiwan is indicative of some kind of US support for Taiwan’s independence. So, it warned of ‘resolute and strong measures’’ if the visit took place. The Western as well as Indian mainstream media have been making a one-sided propaganda that China has been extending military drills in the waters around Taiwan, shooting missiles over the island, and flying multiple jets well across the median line that has traditionally served as their maritime boundary. The signs are worrying, they contend. But the fact they are suppressing, knowingly or unknowingly, is that the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet has so far this year sent an average of one guided-missile destroyer per month through the Taiwan Strait. The US naval command RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Amphibious Assault Training) was carrying out manoeuvres involving 170 aircraft, 38 ships, four submarines, and 25,000 military personnel from all the G7 imperialist countries. Some 19 other Asia Pacific countries were pulled in for symbolic participation. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise. According to its commander, their massive training is meant to deter escalation by China’s military. This aggressive maritime action took place from 29 June to 4 August meaning even while Nancy Pelosi was visiting Taiwan. As usual, this military exercise involving hundreds of ships and aircrafts and massive display of vast and deadly arms are described by the US authorities as simply participating in ‘routine’ or ‘business as usual’ activities. It is also revealed that in March last, senior US military and intelligence officials visited Taiwan. Afterwards, six US legislators from the military, intelligence, foreign affairs, justice and finance committees including the hawk of all wars, Lindsey Graham went to Taiwan in April last. A third U.S. delegation led by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has landed in Taiwan on 21 August. In a statement, Holcomb’s office said the trip was focused on economic development and building deeper ties with Taiwan, the world leader in semiconductor manufacturing. But to anyone acquainted with US policy of inciting war on foreign land from its hegemonic objective, has every reason to question the efficacy of the apparently benign statement. All these incidents are clear signs of provoking China to undertake countermeasures. The Chinese response also took the form of military drills which are aimed at showing that China’s military is capable of blockading the entire island. And once that happened, the air has become surcharged with war psychosis. Thus, while the flames of war are burning in Ukraine, a new hotbed of armed conflict is being instigated.
Militarization of economy and precipitation of wars are signatures of imperialist machination
As we have been repeatedly saying, capitalist-imperialist countries being enmeshed in acute economic crisis created by capitalism’s own laws of operation have been increasingly resorting to militarization of economy to artificially stimulate the sinking economy and somehow carry on. Militarization artificially stimulates industry and thus the economy; but at the same time, it demands that wars consume the military products, open scope for fresh production and thus maintain industrial production and fuel the economy. So, imperialism continuously requires a war-psychosis to prevail and even local or regional wars to take place, not least to create a market for its military hardware. So, whether it is US, the European majors, Russia, China or India —militarization of economy is a common feature. And the US, as the chieftain of global imperialism, has long chosen war-mongering as a principal global policy, albeit under the garb of exporting democracy to ‘rogue’ countries. This time also, Pelosi said that her visit comes at a time when ‘‘the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.’’ And the pliant bourgeois media is pressed upon releasing a false campaign to justify this, or some or other kind of deception. Público, the newspaper of US monopoly tycoons, has all along been defending the wars launched by imperialism, including the invasion of Iraq. Whether it is FOX News, CNN, AP, The New York Times or The Washington Post, the multibillion-dollar media are part of and totally intertwined with U.S. military industries.It is indignant at those who raise suspicions about war propaganda. But fact is that the US imperialists have been fostering wars in the entire Middle East with a view to grabbing their oil and gas resources and establishing hegemony in the region. They have also been waging a proxy war through their biggest ally, zionist Israel, to suppress the just demand of the Palestinian people. Engineering coup, precipitating racial-ethnic armed conflicts, assassinating political heads refusing to bend before their dictates and establishing client regimes in Africa and Latin America have been part of the US war machination for long. It may be recalled that when China, under revisionist Deng leadership, undertook military exercises in Taiwan straits in the 1990s, the then US President Bill Clinton immediately moved aircraft carriers towards that area. But with China becoming a full-fledged imperialist power with the largest navy in the world, current US President Joe Biden would not have dared to do so today in the context of changed balance of power. But, he has said repeatedly in recent months that the US would come to Taiwan’s rescue, if attacked. As US imperialism has set up a roughly 750 military bases in 85 countries and naval bases in 8 countries round the world, imperialist China has also, of late, started installing naval bases. In 2017, it established its first overseas military base in Djibouti, on the coast of the Horn of Africa. Now it is planning another military base in Equatorial Guinea. China has already taken over the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka not only for a 99-year lease but also with a provision for extension for another 99-years. As we know, no imperialist country can become a global superpower without establishing regional hegemony. So, geopolitically, Taiwan is central to the power ambition of both US and China. Thus, apart from economic questions, it is also a question of which imperialist super-power takes control of the Taiwan straits and keeps Taiwan regime. This sharpened imperialist-imperialist contradiction is again threatening the world of holocaust of war.
Spurt of powerful anti-imperialist global movement alone can deter this war-mongering
Democratic-minded peace-loving people round the world are visibly upset over one after another orchestration of war on this or that flimsy pretext or for buttressing narrow sectarian economic-political interest of the ruling monopolists and multi-nationals of imperialist powers. They sincerely want some proactive steps to stop Russia-Ukraine war and defuse the brewing crisis around Taiwan at a time when acute crises are pummelling the global capitalist economy, the brunt of which are borne by the oppressed millions. But mere wishing would not beget the desired result as anything uttered in supplication or solicitation would not work on the imperialist-capitalist sharks, the worst enemy of mankind. In absence of the mighty socialist camp which, provided some sort of bulwark against imperialist machinations, the imperialist powers are unbridled in unleashing their aggression today. The wicked is never starved of subterfuge! On one pretext or the other, they will fragrantly violate all established norms, rules and practices to overrun the countries they think are ‘recalcitrant’, mercilessly kill innocent people, take recourse to all kinds of devilry and despotism in pursuit of hegemonistic aspiration and expand sphere of influence. So, this murderous run of the imperialist warmongering is to be combated and stopped. That is possible only if the peace-loving people develop mighty and well-organized anti-imperialist movements led by revolutionary leadership throughout the world and exert pressure of that movement on the imperialist war merchants.
Also, it should not be forgotten that if the imperialist powers are in possession of sophisticated arms of destruction, people too have an invincible weapon in their armoury-the invincible philosophy of Marxism-Leninism. Let us recall that Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of the era, repeatedly emphasized that only an organized people’s movement under the correct revolutionary leadership can provide effective bulwark against this imperialist onslaught. Conducting people’s struggles under correct leadership is imperative for taking the movements to their logical culmination. Immediate task is to build up worldwide powerful anti-imperialist militant peace movement involving all sections of the anti-imperialist freedom-loving patriotic masses and forces. Genuine communists must work as the core of this movement to guide it properly. When tensions in the Taiwan Strait are spiralling alongside ongoing Russia’s war of invasion against Ukraine, this task need to be undertaken in right earnest to save human civilization.
(Source: Newsclick 02-07-21, Workers’ World 29-04-22, 09-08-22, Newsweek 03-06-22, b rookings July 2022, BBC 06-07-22, Council on Foreign Relations 03-08-22, Indian Express 03-08-22, 04-08-22, The Print 03-08-22, The Wire 03-08-22, 05-08-22, The Guardian 04-08-22, DNA 05-08-22, The Hindu 05-08-22, 18-08-22, The Telegraph 10-08-22, PTI and India TV 13-08-22, Covert Action Magazine 18-08-22, foreign policy.com 22-08-22, (quoted by Edgar Snow : Other Side of the River, from New York Times: 10 August 1958, Policy Statement on China.)