The Taiwan question is on the front burner
Welcome to This Week, Those Books, your rundown on books new and old that resonate with the week’s big news story.
The few minutes it takes to read this newsletter will make you smarter, faster. If you’d rather listen, click on the audio button above for a human, not AI, voiceover by my close collaborator Michael. These book suggestions come with a summary and a visceral response rating. Even if you don’t read the actual book, you’ll be able to discuss it. I never recommend a book I don’t like and I look through a number every week to find the few I share with you. Please spread the word. And find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube.
The Big Story:
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, has a pivotal presidential election with implications that could go far beyond the island of 23 million.
- A self-governed democracy, Taiwan is claimed by China as its territory. In a New Year message, China’s leader Xi Jinping said that Taiwan’s “reunification” with the mainland is an “historical inevitability”.
- The US, which is Taiwan’s most significant international supporter, is watching events closely. America is bound by its own laws to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and in August, the US Congress approved the sale of millions of dollars of military equipment and weapons to the island.
- Some analysts fear that Taiwan is a potential flashpoint for a superpower showdown between the US and China. Western diplomats also express concerns that Beijing could escalate military tensions between Taiwan’s election day and the mid-May inauguration of its new president.
- Taiwan, separated from China by the Taiwan Strait, has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party.
- In the run-up to Taiwan’s election, Beijing warned voters against keeping in power their incumbent ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which it regards as separatist for refusing to define the island as part of China.
- The US approach to Taiwan is governed by its One-China policy, which “acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China”.
- Only 13 United Nations members states maintain official ties with Taiwan.
This Week, Those Books:
- A cookbook that stirs politics into Taiwan’s signature soy sauce.
- A cocktail of history, family lore and nature-writing from 89-mile-wide Taiwan.
- A serving of more than 400 years of Taiwan’s colonial history.