Name? Tsai Ing-wen
Westphalian identity? Taiwanese
Why is she in the news? The President of Taiwan is in the news because of increased military activity from all involved parties (China, Taiwan and the USA) in the Taiwan Strait. Her defence ministry said 25 Chinese aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, entered its air defence identification zone on Monday.
Why do we care? We see this as attrition warfare that is working. This means that China is creating a sense of normalcy around its military presence. A few months ago, every time Chinese jets were in the air Taiwan would send some up as well. By now, Taiwan only establishes its own presence when multiple jets enter the air defence identification zone.
Why should you care? Because an open military conflict between the global powers over the sovereignty of Taiwan is the last thing we need this year. President Tsai made clear that Taiwan is already an independent state, making any formal declaration unnecessary. All other actors keeping this vaguely defined should make you care 9/10 to avoid conflict.
Who else cares? Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin. The Global Times is under the control of the Chinese Communist Party and therefore a good indicator of Chinese sentiments towards the world. Hu recently uploaded a video in which he made it very clear that any sign of military aggression towards mainland Chinese groups would be the beginning of “all-out war;” effectively drawing a red line for President Tsai.
Any further comments? This comes one month after the mainland and Taiwan have engaged in a “pineapple war.” Mainland China declared that it would no longer import Taiwanese pineapples over biosafety precaution measures. In response, President Tsai started the pineapple challenge, eating more Taiwanese pineapples, in order to boost local consumption. Well, as long as we are only talking about pineapple wars and not real wars, we can get on board with that.