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Why Taiwan Matters

By accepting that authoritarian China inevitably will seize democratic Taiwan, too many Western commentators end up toeing the Communist Party's line. Rather than seeing Taiwan's future in present-day China, one can also imagine China's future looking like present-day Taiwan.

CAMBRIDGE/CHICAGO – US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s headline-generating visit to Taipei has reminded the world how much Taiwan matters to China. But Taiwan also should matter to the democratic world.

It is no secret that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is committed to unifying Taiwan (which it views as a breakaway province) with the mainland. The United States formally recognized the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China in 1979, and Western powers have since mostly refrained from recognizing Taiwan as a separate country. This “One China” policy, together with rising nationalist sentiment in China, makes a Chinese takeover of the island in the coming decades seem likely, if not inevitable.

Some Western commentators believe that Pelosi acted recklessly by visiting the island. But they ignore how and why Taiwan also matters for the future of both democracy and China itself.