Effect of the Ukraine Crisis on Taiwan

Summary Report by Taiwan Weekly


With the Russian army gathered on the Ukrainian border, many western countries are urgently mediating in order to prevent the war that is about to break out. 


At the Munich Security Conference on February 19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom associated the situation in the Ukraine to that in Taiwan in his speech. He said that if Ukraine is invaded by Russia, the shock of invasion would echo around the world, and those echoes will be heard in East Asia, then they will be heard in Taiwan. Mr. Johnson also stated that if Western countries do not take severe sanctions or other counter actions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it would send a dangerous message to the world. All countries will conclude that “invading other countries is very cost-effective and power overrules everything”.


While Western countries continuously promise Ukraine to support its sovereignty and independence, Prime Minister Johnson told world leaders how hollow, meaningless, and insulting those words would seem, if at the very moment when their sovereignty and independence is imperiled, they simply looked away.


Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi stressed in his speech by video conference that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and maintained, and “Ukraine is no exception.” This remark was interpreted as an indication that China is finally siding with Ukraine. However, Wang also expressed support to Russia by questioning whether the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) blind expansion eastwards is beneficial to maintaining Europe’s peace and stability. “Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be respected and taken seriously,” said Wang. 


Minister Wang suggested that every country take responsibilities and work for peace instead of increasing tensions, stoking panic or hyping up war. China hopes that all parties will negotiate through dialogues in order to find a solution that is truly conducive to safeguarding the security of Europe.  


Even though Russia announced the withdrawal of some troops from the Russian-Ukrainian border, President Joe Biden of the United States still issued a warning that the invasion may be carried out “in the next few days”. 


Russia did not attend the 58th Munich Security Conference held from February 18 to 20 where the main topic was solving the Ukraine crisis. Instead, on February 19, Russia launched exercises of the strategic deterrence force and successfully test launched its ballistic and cruise missiles. 


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine attended the conference in person and met with Vice President Kamala Harris of the United States to discuss the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Harris assured Zelensky that the U.S. takes Russia’s threat towards Ukraine very seriously. If Russia invades Ukraine, then the U.S. promises to impose swift and severe economic sanctions. Vice President Harris also stressed that the United States prefers to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means.


In response to the outside world linking the situation in Ukraine to Taiwan, Douglas Paal, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, told reporters that the situation in Taiwan and Ukraine is completely different. If the United States is unable to save Taiwan from mainland Chinese invasion, it would jeopardize Biden’s presidency.


Mr. Paal also hoped that the Ukraine crisis will prompt Taiwan and the mainland to find a channel to resume dialogue. For the past few decades, peace across the Taiwan Strait has ensured Taiwan’s economic development, autonomy, and democratization. If Taipei fails to find a way to deal with the potential crisis with China, then Taiwan will have to face heavy losses.


Kharis Templeman, researcher at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, has a different view as to the comparison of Ukraine’s situation to what Taiwan can go through. He believes that Taiwan is more important to the United States, whether it is their bilateral trade relationship or Taiwan’s strategic status. If Taiwan is threatened by Beijing, then the United States would have a stronger case for military intervention. 


In response to the situation in the Ukraine, Spokesman Chang Tun-han of the Office of the President stated on February 12 that the National Security Council has formed a "Ukrainian Situation Response Task Force" to pay close attention and give immediate assessment. The situation in the Taiwan Strait is fundamentally different from the situation in Ukraine, but recently it has been discovered that false information has been disseminated that intends to use the situation in Ukraine to affect the morale of Taiwanese society. 


According to Spokesman Chang, the Office of the President calls on Russia and Ukraine to strengthen dialogue and negotiation through peaceful means. He reiterated that army force is not the way to resolve differences. 


The Office of the President also called on Taiwanese citizens to avoid traveling to Ukraine and suggests students and 25 other citizens who are now in Ukraine to leave immediately. When necessary, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will take measures accordingly to ensure the safety of all Taiwanese people.


Spokesman Chang stated that the national army continues to strengthen its surveillance and the ability to response effectively. He emphasized that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region is the responsibility of all parties in this region as well as the hope of the international community. 


Update: President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced military operations against the Ukraine early Tuesday, February 24. Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that Russia's invasion has begun, with reports of troops crossing the border from multiple directions and explosions in multiple cities including the capital Kyiv.






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