The Metaphorical Prisoner of South Asia: How Taiwan is a Losing Legal Battle

Blog by Joseph Seminara, Junior Associate

In the aftermath of war in Ukraine and the Middle East, the island of Taiwan is watching closely in anticipation of China’s aggression.[1] For decades, Taiwan has continuously sought recognition from independent nations, leading to high tensions between Taiwan, China, and the United States.[2] Now, more than ever before, China seems to be on the brink of invading Taiwan and keeping the island from advancing its independence. However, the United States has been swift in coming to Taiwan’s defense in denouncing any threats from China.[3]

China continues to consider Taiwan a part of China and does not allow Taiwan much leeway in gaining legal recognition because of the long history of China and Taiwan relations.[4] In recent years, China has not shied away from showing its economic and military dominance on the world stage in light of events concerning Taiwan.[5] In each of these portrayals of strength, the nations testing China’s treatment of Taiwan have backed away in fear of retaliation from China.[6]

However, Taiwan has shown more strength in standing up to China than ever.  Even with the uptick in significant threats to Taiwan and other nations from China, Taiwan has undertaken an increase in support for Taiwanese independence and calls for other countries to help in the cause.[7] While many governments have been reluctant to take on the burden of supporting Taiwan and risking relations with China, the United States has continually come to back Taiwan in its journey for recognition and independence.[8] These actions have not only heightened tensions with Taiwan and China but have called on the United States to address its trade with China.

While the United States is fast to criticize China for mistreating Taiwan, the United States has found it necessary to reflect on its reliance on trade with China. The United States routinely trades with China on major products that the United States relies on China to produce.[9] Because of the reliance, the United States is not in a position to assert itself in helping Taiwan gain independent status because of China’s stronghold on trade.[10] Therefore, until the United States attempts to change its trade policies to reflect a nation less dependent on China, Taiwan and the United States cannot effectively unite to provide Taiwan with the independence it is fighting for.

[1] Taiwan is Closely Wathcing the Hamas-Israel War for Lessons as it Faces Intimidation from China, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (Oct. 12, 2023),

[2] Justin Gomez & Fritz Farrow, Biden and Xi Talk Fentanyl, Taiwan, Military Communication and More in 4-Hour Meeting, ABC NEWS (Nov. 15, 2023, 8:40 PM),

[3] Id.

[4] China says Taiwan not a Country, Taiwans says China Needs Reality Check, REUTERS (Sept. 27, 2017, 5:28 AM),

[5] Stuart Ford, International Law and the New Cold War: the New Era of International Courts: the New Cold War with China and Russia: Same as the Old Cold War?, 55 CASE W. RES. J. INT’L L. 423, 455 (2023).

[6] Id.

[7] Dennis V. Hickey, More and More Taiwanese Favor Independence – and Think the US Would Help Fight for It, THE DIPLOMAT (Dec. 3, 2020),

[8] Gomez & Farrow, supra note 2.

[9] Brent Sadler, America’s Dependence on China is a Crisis in the Making, THE HERITAGE FOUND. (Oct. 4, 2022),

[10] Id.

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