Why All the Buzz About Taiwan?
The Hon. Bonnie Glick
Why are we hearing so much about Taiwan these days? Why did former House speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s visit to the country lead to threats against it and the United States from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army? Why did the visit of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen with current House speaker Kevin McCarthy raise so many hackles in Beijing? Why did Congress set up a Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party? Why did President Joe Biden pledge to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion? What do we need to know about this island nation of 20 million people just a bit larger in area than my home state of Maryland? Perhaps most importantly, why do Americans need to care?
Stepping into the not-so-way-back time machine, we all remember COVID. An abundance of evidence now points to the pandemic having originated in a lab in far-off Wuhan, China. For the purposes of understanding Taiwan, we don’t need to know much about Wuhan or the Chinese Communist Party’s near-total lockdown that went into effect following the lab leak. What we do need to recall is the global supply chain crisis that followed. We all learned a new acronym, PPE, for the personal protective equipment like masks and gowns rapidly vanishing from hospital shelves. In short order we also got used to talking about the chips shortage—not potato chips, but microelectronic chips, also known as semiconductors.
This was when we started hearing about Taiwan. We learned about TSMC, the Taiwanese semiconductor company that churns out the world’s most sophisticated chips that are used to power our defense equipment, our medical equipment, our computer equipment, and any and all of the latest technologies that we took for granted pre-COVID.
TSMC’s headquarters is located just across the Taiwan Strait, about 100 miles from Mainland China. Mainland China is ruled by the genocidal Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which views the democratic nation of Taiwan as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland, not as a free and prosperous democracy. It harasses Taiwanese defense and civilian populations in the South China Sea. It conducts overflights of Taiwanese territory in order to frighten the civilian population below. CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping regularly threatens invasion, as he did once again right after McCarthy hosted Taiwan’s democratically elected president in early April.
Why should Americans care?
We should care because democratically elected governments cannot and should not be overthrown by genocidal dictators. We care because Taiwan’s success in semiconductors is key to America’s—and the free world’s—continued prosperity through innovation. We care because the Taiwanese people have longstanding relations with millions of Americans. We care because Taiwan is investing in its own defense so America will not shed blood and treasure in a “forever war” that is very far away.