US Plans to Evacuate Americans from Taiwan amid China Threat
The US government is reportedly preparing plans to evacuate American citizens from Taiwan amid rising tensions with China over the island’s sovereignty and security. According to The Messenger, a news outlet that claims to have sources within the US intelligence community, the evacuation planning has been ongoing for at least six months and has intensified over the past two months.
The sources said that the US government is concerned about the possibility of a Chinese military invasion or attack on Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary. The sources also cited the recent alignment of China and Russia on the situation in Ukraine, where Moscow has amassed troops near the border and threatened to intervene if Kiev tries to reclaim its breakaway regions.
The US government has not publicly confirmed or denied the existence of such evacuation plans, which are said to be sensitive for the Taiwanese government and people, who may see them as a sign of abandonment or lack of support from their main ally. However, a spokesperson for the US State Department told The Messenger that “the United States remains committed to supporting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability” and that “our policy on Taiwan is clear and has not changed”.
How many Americans are in Taiwan?
According to a 2019 report by the US State Department, there are over 80,000 US citizens in Taiwan on any given day, including tourists, students, businesspeople, military personnel and diplomats. The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but maintains unofficial ties through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which serves as a de facto embassy.
The US also provides Taiwan with defensive weapons and security assistance under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which states that “any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means” would be of “grave concern” to the US. The US has also reaffirmed its commitment to the “one China” policy, which acknowledges Beijing’s claim over Taiwan but does not recognize it.
What are the challenges of evacuating Americans from Taiwan?
The sources who spoke to The Messenger said that evacuating Americans from Taiwan would pose multiple challenges, such as:
The physical geography of Taiwan, which is a mountainous island with limited roads and tunnels that could become chokepoints in a crisis.
The availability and capacity of commercial and military transport options, such as planes, ships and helicopters, which could be limited or targeted by Chinese forces.
The coordination and communication with the Taiwanese authorities and other foreign nationals who may also seek to leave the island.
The legal and ethical implications of leaving behind Taiwanese allies, partners and friends who may face persecution or retaliation from China.
The sources said that the US government is considering various scenarios and contingencies for different levels of urgency and threat, but declined to provide specific details. They also said that the US government is closely monitoring the situation and would alert its citizens in Taiwan if there is an imminent danger or need to evacuate.
What is the current situation in Taiwan?
Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) fled there after losing the civil war to the communist forces led by Mao Zedong. Since then, Taiwan has developed into a vibrant democracy and a prosperous economy, with its own constitution, flag, currency and military.
However, China has never renounced its claim over Taiwan and has repeatedly threatened to use force if Taipei declares formal independence or resists unification. China has also sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically by pressuring other countries to cut ties with Taipei and adhere to the “one China” principle. China has also increased its military presence and activities near Taiwan’s airspace and waters, conducting frequent drills and incursions that have raised tensions and alarms.
Taiwan’s current president, Tsai Ing-wen, who was re-elected in 2020 with a landslide victory, has rejected Beijing’s offer of “one country, two systems”, which would grant Taiwan some autonomy under Chinese sovereignty. Tsai has also sought to strengthen Taiwan’s defense capabilities and international support, especially from the US and other like-minded democracies.
The US government’s reported plans to evacuate Americans from Taiwan reflect the growing uncertainty and anxiety over the future of the island amid China’s increasing pressure and aggression. While the US has reiterated its support for Taiwan’s security and autonomy, it has also faced challenges in balancing its interests and values in the region. The situation in Taiwan remains tense and volatile, but there is still hope for a peaceful and stable resolution that respects the wishes and rights of the Taiwanese people. As one of Taiwan’s most important allies and partners, the US has a vital role to play in ensuring that Taiwan’s democracy and prosperity are not compromised by China’s coercion or force.