Most people in Taiwan believe that Ukraine’s response to Russia’s invasion serves as a model for how to repel a future Chinese military attack.
In a statement to Axios, I-chung Lai, head of the Taiwan-based think tank Prospect Foundation, stated that “if Ukrainians can do it, then Taiwanese people should be able to do it as well.”
The big picture: Taiwan and Ukraine are both under threat from China and Russia, both of which have publicly stated ambitions to annex parts or all of their respective territories.
The people of Taiwan and Ukraine have both fought hard to establish their own democratic institutions, while their larger authoritarian neighbors have attempted to undermine those institutions in their respective countries.
Both Taiwan and Ukraine have been barred from membership in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations in Taiwan’s case and NATO in Ukraine’s case, largely as a result of pressure from larger countries seeking to exert control over them.
What is taking place is as follows: Many Taiwanese believe that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call for the world community. Taiwan purchases high-end weapons systems from the United States, but it does not have the substantial training and equipment that has propelled the Ukrainian rebel movement to victory.
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Earlier this week, Taiwan’s defense minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, stated that the government was considering extending compulsory military service from the existing four-month period to as long as one year.
“There has also been an increase in interest among the general people in learning self-defense skills,” such as emergency aid and medic training, according to Lai, who spoke to Axios.
Their position: “Both Ukraine and Taiwan have long suffered the dangers of living next to a belligerent, authoritarian neighbor,” Taiwan’s ambassador to the United States Bi-khim Hsiao wrote in the Washington Post last week.
In her letter, she stated, “The determination and resilience demonstrated by the Ukrainian people in the wake of Russia’s invasion have inspired Taiwan, confirming our commitment to protect our freedom.”
Yes, but Taiwan’s situation differs significantly from that of Ukraine in a number of important ways.
As a sovereign state with membership in the United Nations, Ukraine enjoys universal recognition. On the other hand, China has poached most of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners and expelled the island from most international organizations in recent decades, leaving Taiwan’s international status as a sovereign state in limbo.
That means that if China invades Taiwan, Taiwan may have difficulty bringing its case before international tribunals, and Beijing may claim that its attack was a strictly local matter.
For example, while the Ukraine and Russia share a long land border, Taiwan and China are separated by 100 miles of ocean, making a military invasion far more difficult — and other kinds of attack far likelier —
What to keep an eye out for: According to Larry Diamond, senior scholar at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Taiwan has a lot more work to do if it intends to fight an invasion as well as Ukraine has done so far.
According to Diamond, “Taiwan must prepare ahead in order to build stronger resilience so that it can withstand attempts to compel, strangle, or blast it.” “This entails increasing the resilience of supply chains as well as building up home supplies and energy reserves,” says the author.
Another example that Taiwan should follow, according to Diamond, is Israel, which has benefited from long-term compulsory military service, technical advancements, and U.S. aid to strengthen its regional security position.
Final conclusion: A population’s belief in its own country, on the other hand, may be the most significant resource available.
Ukraine has demonstrated to the Taiwanese public that “the people’s will is the most important aspect in defense,” according to Lai.