Voices from Asia

Taiwanese Perceptions of Russia’s Ukraine war

Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Taiwanese government remained committed to its position of condemnation for Russia, humanitarian support for Ukraine, and deep appreciation and admiration for the Ukrainian people’s will to defy power, resist aggression, and defend their nation.

Instytut Boyma 27.06.2022

This February, the globe’s second-strongest military power, Russia, launched a war against Ukraine, its neighbor. Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Taiwanese government remained committed to its position of condemnation for Russia, humanitarian support for Ukraine, and deep appreciation and admiration for the Ukrainian people’s will to defy power, resist aggression, and defend their nation.

The tragedy of the invasion has struck a chord with the Taiwanese people, who are widely aware of the events as they unfold. The Ukrainian-Russian war has made Taiwanese people indignant, leading to their determination to support Ukraine. Many Taiwanese who usually do not care much about international politics are now paying close attention to the trajectory of the war.

One of the main reasons for the growing concern and unease among many Taiwanese is that they, like people in Ukraine, are facing a threat of authoritarian aggression from a neighboring power. As such, Taiwanese people not only sympathize with the struggle Ukraine is enduring, but also pay close attention to the impact Ukraine’s situation may have on the future of relations across the Taiwan Strait.

Ukraine and Taiwan’s Fates Are Not Predetermined

Questions have centered around issues like: Will the war in Ukraine affect the future of Taiwan-China relations? Can Taiwan navigate the cross-Strait relations? Will the United States come to help defend Taiwan in case of uncertainties? The crisis in Europe is bringing questions that have long been asked in Taiwan to the center of public life again.

After Russia’s most recent invasion, the statement “Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow” became a hot topic in Taiwan’s public discourse as well as online discussions and platforms. Taiwan has been consistent in maintaining a prudent approach towards the war in Ukraine while avoiding provocation towards China. In general, the Taiwanese government has remained cautious by not over-emphasizing the possibility of a war between China and Taiwan while sending a clear message that Taiwan would not be the first to start a war should it occur.

And the war in Europe has also accelerated changes in Taiwan’s strategic thinking on how to respond to China’s military posture. In recent years, Taiwan has changed its large-force combat strategy to a battalion-level combat method that aligns more closely to the force structure proposed by the United States’ and has also developed asymmetrical warfare capabilities in accordance with Washington’s advice. Nonetheless, Taiwan remains unable to fully defend herself in the case of a total war, all-in attack scenario.

Other changes included a shortening of the military service requirement, from two years to four months, enhancing physical fitness requirements, increasing the proportion of volunteers, and seeking support from like-minded countries, particularly Japan and Australia.

There have been public calls for the Taiwanese government to update and reform military training courses and prepare for a war of resistance while advocating for self-reliance. Civilians, major officials and governmental figures have been discussing the need to enhance “Taiwan’s military readiness, and to what extent Taiwan’s armed forces and civilian population are ready to fend off a Chinese invasion.”

The purpose of these changes is to meet the requirements of modern combat. The general lesson that Taiwan has learned from Ukrainian soldiers’ success is that there is less need to continue relying on large, inflexible, encumbered forces. The current direction of military reform in Taiwan has been encouraged by the devastating guerrilla tactics utilized by Kyiv during the Ukraine war.

Though rightly worried about the potential for war, Taiwanese people are now likely to think that the potential for resisting China is much greater than we previously thought. Though rightly worried about the potential for war, Taiwanese people are now likely to think that the potential for resisting China is much greater than we previously thought. According to Taipei-based think tank Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, 30% more Taiwanese willing to fight for country after Russian invasion of Ukraine, 70% now willing to defend Taiwan against invasion from China. A fait-accompli through force of will and expenditure of lives by China is unlikely. The stalemate in Ukraine has proved that it has not been easy for even a nuclear-armed power like Russia to effectively seize Ukraine.

Most people—while noting that China has been trespassing into the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) – believe that a war in the Taiwan Strait would be much more difficult than the war in Ukraine.

PRC lessons from the Ukraine war

Even still, they believe Chinese leaders would not take the issue of war lightly. In the face of Beijing’s growing coercion, some believe China may consider a longer-term war in the Taiwan Strait, as the length of the Russian-Ukrainian war may have provided them with valuable lessons on how to prepare logistically for war.

Instead of believing that China could seize Taiwan in a few days, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may prepare for a longer, all-consuming war with Taipei. The war in Ukraine has at the very least shown the CCP regime what toolbox the West intends to use against aggressors in the future. The possibility that the CCP is waiting for an opportune moment to launch a war against Taiwan thus remains high.

The cross-Strait invasion issue is a longstanding one. The continuing rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping is another potential tinderbox – Xi could consider war with Taiwan as the perfect “strategic card” for him to retain or consolidate his political power given dissent among China’s ruling elite. But in all likelihood, the lesson that China has learned is that it must get well- prepared when considering using the military to annex Taiwan. Hence, Beijing will need more time to prepare.

American strategic ambiguity

Pressure from the PRC was mounting prior to Putin’s war in Ukraine. After it has started, it remains uncertain that the Biden administration would come to support Taiwan by sending troops to the Taiwan Strait. From Secretary Blinken’s recent China speech, it is clear that the purpose of the United States is the eventual complete containment and collapse of the CCP.

The salvation of Taiwan is not necessary to achieve that end, so it is unclear if the United States would be willing to send troops to defend Taiwan, or only provide weapons and then impose economic sanctions on China.

The administration of Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen should enhance country’s status by raising our reputation as a valuable and fierce military partner. The partnership Taiwan shares with both the United States and Japan is indispensable and longstanding. Many Taiwanese maintain that the United States and Japan would come to Taiwan’s aid in a conflict. Taiwan should expand its strategic partnerships to include more robust relationships with nations around the globe. A network of like-minded states and geopolitical players in the region can increase collective awareness of the strategic importance of Taiwan and can make the Indo- Pacific the safest region to trade and navigate in the world.

Bibliography

  1. 詹威克, “客座评论:乌克兰战争改变台湾战略思考”, 12 May 2022,
    https://www.dw.com/zh/ 客座評論烏克蘭戰爭改變台灣戰略思考/a-61760685
    “烏克蘭戰爭與台灣的未來》BBC解答俄烏衝突和台海情勢的三個關鍵問題”,
  2. The Storm Media, 14 March 2022,
    https://www.storm.mg/article/4236814?page=1
    Brian Hioe, “Taiwan Watches the Ukraine Invasion and Asks: Are We
    Ready?”,
  3. The Diplomat, 15 March 2022,
    https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/taiwan-watches-the-ukraine-invasion-and-
    asks-are-we-ready/
  4. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4476140
Kuan Ting Chen

Kuan-Ting Chen is the CEO of Taiwan NextGen Foundation, a think-tank working to make Taiwan more sustainable, diverse, and inclusive. He is also the host of Radio Taiwan International’s podcast “Vision on China.” He was the deputy spokesperson for Taipei City Hall, and a member of the National Security Council's staff. He holds a MA in Public Policy from the Univesity of Tokyo.

TAGI: / / / /

czytaj więcej

Voices from Asia – introduction

We would like to cordially invites all to the new series "Voices from Asia" that is devoted to the Asian perspectives on the conflict in Ukraine. In this series, we publish analysis by experts based in Asia or working on Asian affairs who present their positions on this matter.

The link between EU Aid and Good Governance in Central Asia

Nowadays all the CA states continue transitioning into the human-centered model of governance where the comprehensive needs of societies must be satisfied, nevertheless, the achievements are to a greater extent ambiguous.

Book review: “Korean Diaspora in Postwar Japan – Geopolitics, Identity and Nation-Building”

Book review of "Korean Diaspora in Postwar Japan -  Geopolitics, Identity and Nation-Building", written by Kim Myung-ja and published by I.B Tauris in 2017.

Foreign Direct Investment in Vietnam

Thanks to continuous economic development, Vietnam attracts a record number of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The catalyst for such a strong growth of FDI in Vietnam is not only the ongoing trade war between the US and China, but also new international agreements.

Online Course: “Free Speech, Incitement and Hate Speech and their relevance in Poland’s political discourse and landscape” with Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman

The Adam Institute invites you to join us for a new engaging course, tailored to participants from Poland, taught on ZOOM.

Polish-Asian Cooperation in the Field of New Technologies – Report

Polish and Polish-founded companies are already on the largest continent in sectors such as: IT, educational technology, finance, marketing, e-commerce and space. Despite this, the potential lying dormant in the domestic innovation sector seems to be underutilized.

Internet, cryptocurrencies & blockchains in North Korea

North Korea is considered as a secretive state, but, paradoxically, the country is developing last trend technologies. With prohibitions restricting the flow of money, the country is turning to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to finance their programs, instead of coming under new pressure.

Book review: “GDR International Development Policy Involvement. Doctrine and Strategies between Illusions and Reality 1960-1990, The example (South) Africa”

Book review of "GDR International Development Policy Involvement. Doctrine and Strategies between Illusions and Reality 1960-1990, The example (South) Africa", written by Ulrich van der Heyden and published by Lit Verlag in 2013.

Are Polish Universities Really Victims of a Chinese Influence Campaign?

The Chinese Influence Campaign can allegedly play a dangerous role at certain Central European universities, as stated in the article ‘Countering China’s Influence Campaigns at European Universities’, (...) However, the text does ignore Poland, the country with the largest number of universities and students in the region. And we argue, the situation is much more complex.

Adam Institute for Democracy & Peace – Crowdfunding Campaign December 2020

Democracy in Israel is in crisis. And if we don't educate for democracy, it just won't exist. It's that simple. The actual teaching of democracy, on the other hand, isn't so simple. It requires experience, theoretical and practical knowledge and the flexibility to adapt to our ever-changing reality.

Guidance for Workplaces on Preparing for Coronavirus Spread

Due to the spread of coronavirus, the following workplace recommendations have been issued by the Ministry of Development, in cooperation with the Chief Sanitary Inspector. We also invite you to read article about general information and recommendations for entrepreneurs.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and emerging contractual claims

With China one of the key players in the global supply chain, supplying major manufacturing companies with commodities, components and final products, the recent emerging outbreak of Coronavirus provides for a number of organizational as well as legal challenges.

Global Security Initiative and Global Development Initiative: Two Wings for Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

Peace and development as the call of our day again face severe challenges on a global scale, with more prominent instability, uncertainty and complexity

Online Course: “Educational tools for addressing the effects of war”

The Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace is offering “Betzavta” facilitators, middle school and high school educators, social activists, communal activists and those assisting refugees an online seminar to explore educational issues related to wartime.

Patrycja Pendrakowska for Observer Research Foundation: “Managing fear and easing lockdown in Poland”

We would like to inform, that Observer Research Foundation has published article of Patrycja Pendrakowska - the Boym Institute Analyst and President of the Board.

The unification of the two Koreas: an ASEAN perspective

The aim of the paper is to discuss the role of the ASEAN as a critical component of the solution to the Korean unification. The Korean Unification refers to the potential reunification of both Koreas into a single sovereign Korean state led by the leadership of the two Koreas.

Dr Krzysztof Zalewski participates in the Kigali Global Dialogue in Rwanda

A short note and photo gallery from the chairman of the Board of the Boym Institute, who stays in Rwanda at the "Kigali Global Dialogue" conference.

Development Strategies for Ulaanbaatar According to the Conception for the City’s 2040 General Development Plan – Part 2

This is the second part of an inquiry into Ulaanbaatar’s winning 2040 General Development Plan Conception (GDPC). In this part of paper, I look into some of the plans and/or solutions proposed in Ulaanbaatar’s 2040 GDPC.

Indian dream – interview with Samir Saran

Krzysztof Zalewski: India is a large country, both in terms of its population and its land area, with a fast-growing economy. It is perceived as a major new player on the global stage. What would the world order look like if co-organized by India? Samir Saran: India’s impact on the world order is already significant, but […]

Not only tests and masks: the history of Polish-Vietnamese mutual helpfulness

On the initiative of the Vietnamese community in Poland and Vietnamese graduates of Polish universities, our country received support from Vietnam - a country that deals with the threat posed by Sars-Cov-2 very effectively.

Drug and Road Initiative, that is the Silk Road of drug

This paper deals with the issue of drug business in post-Soviet Central Asia, a region that plays a key role in the trafficking of banned substances from Asia (mainly Afghanistan) to Europe. The study briefly presents the areas that make up the picture of drug business in Central Asia, paying attention to production and distribution.

Book review: “Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?”

Book review of "Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?", written by Myung-Kyu Park, Bernhard Seliger, Sung-Jo Park (Eds.) and published by Lit Verlag in 2010.

Patrycja Pendrakowska as a founding member of the WICCI’s India-EU Business Council

By sharing knowledge, business opportunities, and best practices the Council generates awareness of women's contributions in developing the India-EU relations.

Online Course: “Conflict Resolution and Democracy”

The course will be taught via interactive workshops, employing the Adam Institute’s signature “Betzavta – the Adam Institute’s Facilitation Method“, taught by its creator, Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman. The award-winning “Betzavta” method is rooted in an empirical approach to civic education, interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.