HomeAsian AmericansAsAm. academics explain US-Taiwan relations amid China-Russia cooperation

AsAm. academics explain US-Taiwan relations amid China-Russia cooperation

by Matthew Yoshimoto, AsAmNews Intern

U.S. intelligence officials reported concerns that China and Russia are “increasing cooperation” in relation to Taiwan, spurring debates over a potential joint invasion of Taiwan. 

AsAmNews asked Asian American academics for their perspectives on the evolving relationships between the different nations.

On May 2, Director of U.S. National Intelligence Avril Haines told Congress, “We see China and Russia, for the first time, exercising together in relation to Taiwan and recognizing that this is a place where China definitely wants Russia to be working with them, and we see no reason why they wouldn’t,” Daily Mail reported. 

This sentiment was joined by Lieutenant General Jeffrey Kruse, who has “become even more concerned about our joint force requirements in an environment where [Russia and China] would certainly be cooperative, and we need to take that into account,” Bloomberg reported. 

Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang, Associate Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Columbia, told AsAmNews this is another “step up in the escalating US-China rivalry.” Noting that Chinese leader Xi Jinping assists Putin’s war in Ukraine, Yang explained this gives Beijing “some degree of strategic and logistics support” if China decides to invade Taiwan. 

“The idea that Russia and China are working together to invade Taiwan or attack US forces in Japan and Korea might be a bit far-fetched at this point. Of course, one should definitely worry about the expansion of Chinese naval and aerial incursions in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea in the past couple of years … That said, at this particular juncture, one should also avoid reading too much into the Russian-Chinese joint military exercises (in terms of the immediate dangers that they might pose),” said Yang to AsAmNews

James Lin, Assistant Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington, told AsAmNews that while US-Taiwan relations have “strengthened significantly” under the Trump and Biden administrations, there should not be immediate concern over a potential joint invasion. 

“The intelligence seems to be more about the cooperation and ‘friendship’ between Beijing and Moscow, rather than an indication of Moscow’s interests in an invasion of Taiwan. We shouldn’t read too much into the intention of joint cooperation exercises, at least for the moment,” said Lin to AsAmNews.

Lin explained the US-Taiwan relations stemmed from the Cold War era, notably after the Korean War of the 1950s, in which the U.S. allied with the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan to promote their official strategy of containing communism. 

This shifted, Lin said, in the 1970s when the U.S. re-engaged relations with Beijing to isolate the Soviet Union, which switched U.S. diplomatic recognition from the ROC to the People’s Republic of China. In 1979, the U.S. adopted the foreign policy of strategic ambiguity to maintain relations with Taiwan and China and keep peace in the Taiwan Strait. 

Yang explained this strategy of ambiguity works effectively when U.S. military capability far surpasses that of China and Taiwan. However, he believes this “same logic might not work in the foreseeable future” as China’s military capability continues to grow. 

With the Trump and Biden administrations showing increased support for Taiwan as well as U.S. Congressional leaders visiting Taiwan, Yang said many people believe these high-profile visits are “provocative and unnecessary.” He noted former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in 2022. 

Yang said he does not see these visits as the U.S. being “unnecessarily provocative” to China, although they are “certainly interpreted” as such by Beijing. 

Lin explained these visits work independently of the executive branch, which heads U.S. foreign policy on Taiwan. But he believes the increased frequency of U.S. officials visiting the island could be “indicative of warming relations between US politicians and Taiwan.”

“These visits are important for the morale and peace of mind of the Taiwanese. Yes, the visits are merely symbolic. Yet they do act as great booster for the Taiwanese and a strong deterrent to Beijing. The American message is loud and clear: It says ‘Hey, stop what you are doing now, it’s not the right way to get the Taiwanese to unify with you, if not, we’ll come up with appropriate responses,’” said Yang to AsAmNews

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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