[Subscription Required] The visit of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) to Danang, Vietnam, in March 2018 was far more than a routine ship visit. It was the first port call by a U.S. aircraft carrier since the Vietnam War, and it symbolized a healing of old wounds between the two nations. The event required strategic coordination with allies, acute geopolitical sensitivity, and engagement at the highest levels of both governments.
As the confrontation between the United States and China intensifies, Taiwan will occupy a pivotal place. Since becoming the site of the exiled Nationalist Chinese government after the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) conquest of mainland China in 1949, the island state has become a flourishing and prosperous liberal democracy boasting the 21st-largest economy in the world.
On 12 May, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters stated that his nation will support Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Assembly at the organization’s meeting the following week. The Assembly governs the World Health Organization, the international body tasked with fighting pandemics like COVID-19. China has excluded Taiwan from the WHA since 2017, after participating in sessions as an observer since 2009.
“Reunification is a historical inevitability of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” declared Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office in May, promoting the idea that Taiwan will be absorbed into the People’s Republic of China. In history, however, there is nothing foreordained, predestined, or inevitable. Just ask Henry Kissinger.