When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Taiwan, Past And Future: Two Lessons For China From The Russia-Ukraine War

China is already profiting from the West's economic divorce from Russia. But its biggest interest may be to learn from Russia's experience of invading a land it claims for itself.

Photo of a man cycling past a store in Taipei, Taiwan

In Taipei, Taiwan

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — On Dec. 7, 1949, the Chinese nationalist leader fighting the communists, Chiang Kai-shek, decided to move his operations provisionally from mainland China to the island of Formosa, or Taiwan. For 50 years, until the end of the Second World War, the island had been part of the Japanese empire.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

More than two million sympathizers of his cause, the Kuomintang, also moved to Formosa, hoping to bide their time there before they could reverse the communist conquest of mainland China.


Months before, the victorious communist leader Mao Zedong had announced the creation of the People's Republic of China.

Becoming a pariah state

But the temporary stay became permanent as an exiled, though legitimate and internationally recognized, government declared itself to be the Republic of China. Taiwan came to be recognized as the Chinese government — at least until 1971, when the United Nations decided to recognize the People's Republic of China. Until then, Taiwan was China's official representative at the assembly.

Today, Taiwan is absent at the UN and only 14 countries recognize it as a state.

While Putin remains in power, Russia will likely be excluded from Western platforms.

Russia may go the same way. As the invasion of Ukraine progresses, and regardless of its outcome, Russia will almost entirely sideline itself in a globalized world.

Days ago, it became the world's most sanctioned state, soundly beating its friends and allies Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela. Within a little over 10 days, it went from being an important actor within global dynamics to becoming a pariah state.

And while Putin remains in power, it will likely be excluded from Western political, cultural and economic platforms that have so far dominated the global discourse.

Photo of protesters carrying signs showing Taiwan's support of Ukraine, during a march in Taipei on March 6

A protest in support of Ukraine in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 6

Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/ZUMA

China's geostrategic interests in the war

We are also seeing China's growing interest in the invasion, in contrast with its apparent neutrality in the weeks preceding the war and its initial days. This is in part because the war in Ukraine suits its interests and even serves as a justification for accelerating its plans for geostrategic supremacy.

On the one hand, China will be supplying a good portion of the goods and services Russia will no longer receive due to Western sanctions. That is instantly giving it a captive market of 150 million consumers who will become increasingly dependent on China.

Putin's approach sets an excellent precedent for China.

On the other, China's anti-secession law of 2005 and its One-China policy proscribe any attempt at secession from what the Communist party defines as historical Chinese territory. That includes Taiwan, which China does not recognize as a state.

President Putin's approach toward the eastern regions of Ukraine sets a great precedent for China. And if China were to proceed the same way, its takeover of Taiwan would also mean engulfing its buoyant economy, exerting greater control over the South China Sea and, with that, over a third of the world's maritime trade.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Ideas

A Slavic Take On The Russian Complex Of Superiority

Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine has turned the world on its head. As shocking as it is, those closer to Russia sense something familiar in the past three months. This personal dispatch is about the Russians and the Slavs (I am the latter).

A crowd watches the hourly changing of the honor guard at Lenin's mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow, 1986

Andrej Mrevlje

-Essay-

LJUBLJANA — I don’t have a great relationship with Russia. Growing up in Slovenia, I did not need to learn Russian to grasp the beauty of classic pre-Soviet literature. The translations of Russian masterpieces into my native language have been admirable.

But besides my proxy relation to Russian culture, I had very few run-ins with actual Russians since, to my knowledge, none of them lived in Slovenia. Well, except one: An athletically-built young man with long curly hair. I recall him mingling with the poets and other groups in a bohemian bar in Ljubljana. I forgot his name, but he disappeared from the scene after a few years. There was talk that he might have been a Russian intelligence officer or a drug pusher. But I had no idea. The matter never interested me enough to investigate further.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

During World War II, my parents took part in the resistance war against Nazi occupiers and spoke fluent German. As a consequence, German was the first foreign language I learned. But it was also the language I used the least. In high school, I learned English and French. I felt no attraction and no affinity to Russian, a language that I felt would be easy to grasp, something that, in a way, was too close and familiar.

But at the same time, there was always a great diffidence toward anything Russian. After the dispute between Joseph Stalin and Tito, and Yugoslavia’s exit from the Soviet bloc in 1948, both sides never recovered the comradeship from the revolutionary times of the Third International.

But to my mind, there was more to it.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ