Defending Taiwan is growing costlier and deadlier
Rousing music accompanies the h-6k, a hulking Chinese bomber, as it sweeps up into a pink sky. Moments later, its pilot presses a red button, with the panache and fortitude that only a People’s Liberation Army (pla) officer could muster, and a missile streaks towards the island of Guam. The ground ripples and a fiery explosion consumes America’s Andersen air force base. Never mind that the pla propaganda film released in September pinches footage from Hollywood blockbusters; the message is that this is what America can expect if it is foolhardy enough to intervene on behalf of Taiwan in a regional war.
China’s Communist Party claims Taiwan, a democratic and prosperous country of 24m people, although the island has not been ruled from the mainland since 1949. A tense peace is maintained as long as Taiwan continues to say that it is part of China, even if not part of the People’s Republic. China once hoped that reunification could be achieved bloodlessly through growing economic and cultural ties. But two-thirds of Taiwanese no longer identify as Chinese, and 60% have an unfavourable view of China. In January Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party was resoundingly re-elected as president over a China-friendly rival.