Wednesday (September 7th): Tsai Ing-wen’s changing status quo in Taiwan

Tsai Ing-wen
Tsai Ing-Wen / Flikr

Name? Tsai Ing-wen

Westphalian identity? Taiwanese

Age? 66

Why is she in the news? Ever since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, President Tsai has been busy reacting to China’s military drills around Taiwan, which included shooting missiles over the island for the first time. With such an ominous and significant change in status quo, the US is set to offer President Tsai a $1.1 billion arms sale. 

Why do we care? Because China and the U.S. have focused their foreign policy on the Indo-Pacific for a reason. With 60% of maritime trade passing through the region, any actions that seemingly “threaten the safety of waterways in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific,” are actions we should watch carefully.  

Why should you care? From food shortages to rises in oil prices, the war in Ukraine has shown how a conflict in one country can have immense impact around the world. China, for one, is watching the conflict carefully to assess their own tactical strategies in case of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait. A conflict between the US and China, however, would much more greatly affect world trade. Therefore, you should care 8/10 about any changes to the status quo of Tsai’s Taiwan. 

Who else cares? Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi’s government urged the US to immediately revoke the approval of the $1.1 billion arms sale, vowing to take legitimate and necessary countermeasures against the package. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington said the sale would “severely jeopardise China-US relations”, along with peace and stability across the Strait. 

Any further comments? While Chinese military planners undoubtedly observe the Taiwanese reaction to the drills for insights into how Taipei might react in time of war, President Tsai does the same. Speaking to air force personnel, Tsai stated “that after this period of combat readiness missions, our national military’s combat skills are more mature and its combat power is more powerful.”