Taiwan has become a flashpoint between Washington and Beijing, so much so that The Economist now judges the island state to be “the most dangerous place on earth.”
Formally the Republic of China, Taiwan is claimed by the People’s Republic of China. Beijing is threatening — without apparent plans to do so in the near-term — to use force to impose its authority over territory that has unofficially acted as a separate nation since 1949. […]
Many triumphalist Americans believe that Beijing would not dare challenge such a U.S. guarantee. For instance, Leon Panetta, a former secretary of defense and CIA director, insisted that “We’re not going to allow China to invade Taiwan, and to undermine their independence.” He added: “if China understands that we’re serious about that, China’s not going to do that. They may be a lot of things, they’re not dumb.”
In short, Panetta sees a promise to protect Taiwan as a freebie: the United States need only say the word and China won’t test America. Xi Jinping and his Politburo full of blowhards will slink back into Zhongnanhai, never to be heard from again.
The willingness of peoples and countries to use force almost irrespective of cost to stop secession is widespread if not quite universal. Among the bitter, brutal wars that resulted when majorities refused to allow minorities to depart were Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Great Britain, Sudan, France, Congo, Cyprus, Indonesia, Yemen, and Yugoslavia. In many more cases, such as India and Spain, resistance has been violent, including terrorism, but short of war. Läs artikel