Taiwan, which Beijing considers a ‘rebel province’, is an existential issue for the Chinese Communist Party. The island that was once a refuge for Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists, defeated by Mao Zedong’s troops, is a long-standing issue that also affects the United States, as well as Japan and South Korea. And beyond. Beijing has always wanted to reunite it with the “motherland”. In the Big Game, in the midst of tensions with the US and a crescendo of tensions with Taiwan, the “Iranian card” seems to have been put on the table with the risk of a further increase in tensions. Francesco Sisci, sinologist, professor of geopolitics at Luiss, talks about Taiwan taking a leap back to last Saturday, a leap to Tehran.
From there that day the signing of the 25-year cooperation agreement between China and Iran was announced, the first of such a long duration signed by the Islamic Republic with a major world power, signed shortly after the sparks between Beijing and Washington in the talks in Alaska, while uncertainty remains about the future of the international agreement on Iranian nuclear power, which risks the definitive collapse of the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement in 2018. Taiwan’s, Sisci emphasizes, is “one of the many problems that are on the table in the relationship between China and the United States, China and the region“and” cannot be discussed in isolation “.
But why does the China-Iran agreement affect Taiwan? “Right now – explains Sisci – Taiwan’s defenses are naturally being strengthened due to the possibility of an invasion by Beijing and Beijing on its part is trying to scare Taiwan with overflights that violate the island’s airspace. do because the state of Taiwan is ambiguous: officially it is part of ‘one China’ even if in fact independent. And these violations create further nervousness on the part of Taiwan in a naturally dangerous spiralAnd this is where the China-Iran agreement comes in. According to Sisci, this “program of Chinese aid to Iran” could be in some way “linked to the Taiwan problem”.
“Over 20 years ago – he recalls – a Chinese scholar from the Middle East Zhang Xiaodong wrote an essay in which he proposed to Beijing to help Iran to have a bargaining chip with the United States regarding Taiwan. And now that China has announced this mega program of economic aid to Iran at the moment when tensions with Taiwan increase, it seems to be an application of this theory “. “China fears that Taiwan will take advantage of the tension with the US – he observes – to become more and more independent and remove the prospect of reunification, which is extremely important for China “.
Today, he continues, “if a hostile China takes control of Taiwan this would further slap Japan and South Korea”. It would result in a strengthening of the anti-Chinese front in the region. But, Sisci continues, “it is a vicious circle“. Because” China thinks that if the Communist Party renounces Taiwan, it would give up an important element of its legitimacy to rule China. “And in this” very dangerous “vicious circle, the Asian giant” is playing the card. Iran “. And Sisci says he fears that,” given the general tension, this Iranian charter in Taiwanese function risks further increase the tension, extending the Taiwan problem to the Middle East, increasing concerns around China. “
“We are far from the war”, he stresses. But is a solution possible with a confederation in ‘Chinese sauce’? “In theory everything is possible – he says – but to discuss it would be necessary to be able to sit around a table and now the situation is far from this hypothesis”. Also because in Taiwan the fear is to end up like Hong Kong, the former British colony increasingly in the orbit of Beijing.