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Taking Steps to Lessen the Risk of US-China Conflict Over Taiwan

Few nations are willing to explicitly oppose Beijing on the political status of Taiwan, which is disputed in international relations because Mainland China claims the island as part of its own territory.

By giving Taiwan significant military support and acting as its second-largest trade partner for products, the United States has long implicitly challenged China. However, a number of observers are worried about a potential superpower clash with China over Taiwan.

To prevent such a conflict, the significance of US-China economic and trade cooperation cannot be emphasised. With a population of about 23 million and the twentieth-largest economy in the world, Taiwan is strongly dependent on both nations for its economic development.

Although China is Taiwan's top trading partner, the US is a close second. Taiwan imports $84 billion worth of commodities from China and exports $121 billion worth to that country. Political disputes between the two countries don't seem to have much of an impact on these numbers.

However, the volume of commerce does not always foretell everything, as Ukrainian exports to Russia actually had a slight increase in 2021, while Russian exports to Ukraine experienced a significant increase at the same time, shortly before the Russian invasion in February 2022. Taiwan cannot assume that a prosperous trading partnership will prevent an invasion by China.

Cooperation in trade and the economy cannot ensure the absence of conflict, but it can aid in its prevention. Conflict may have a negative impact on a country's economy and reputation abroad, as Russia's recent experience with war has demonstrated. China has probably observed how the much smaller Ukraine has been able to repel the initial invasion, engage Russia in a costly struggle, and win support from other countries.

Taiwan, which is far wealthier than Ukraine, anticipates direct support from the US. Even if the fight in East Asia ends without a nuclear exchange, it will nevertheless have a far more destructive impact on the global economy and military than the current crisis in Ukraine.

In order to prevent a conflict over Taiwan, it is crucial for China and the US to cooperate economically and commercially. Trade connections between China and Taiwan have remained largely untouched, despite the fact that political tensions between the two nations are still strong. It is in the best interests of both nations to maintain their diplomatic, economic and trade cooperation since a confrontation between China and Taiwan would be devastating for the Asia-Pacific region and the world economy.


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