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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State professor explains why Taiwan is indispensable to the world

Cameryn Davis

Taiwan was still under martial law when Doris Chang, age 12, left her home for the United States. Now a Wichita State professor of political science, Chang continues to research the island where she was born. 

Recently, Chang gave a presentation at WSU that explained why China still views Taiwan as its territory and why that matters.

China’s Qing dynasty controlled Taiwan for two centuries before ceding it to Japan after losing the First Sino-Japanese War. After World War II came to a close in 1945, the Chinese Nationalist Party took control of Taiwan. The authoritarian Chinese government allowed very few Taiwanese political leaders to take office. 

Then, in 1947, mass protests over officers shooting innocent civilians sparked a military crackdown on political opposition that became known as the White Terror

Chang’s grandfather was a political dissident during that time, publicly criticizing and rebelling against the authoritarian government. 

Over the 40-year conflict, between 18,000 and 28,000 people were estimated to have died during the White Terror, including many Taiwanese political leaders. Additionally, over 140,000 people were imprisoned, and many of them died before they could get out. 

Chang compared the way communist China silenced political opposition by killing dissidents to the way Putin controls Russia. She said that although Russia is no longer communist, “even today, Putin still uses assassinations as a tactic.”

Eventually, government employees were required to join the Chinese Nationalist Party. Chang’s mother, a high school math teacher at the time, was fired because she refused to join. 

Taiwan remained under the control of communist China until martial law was lifted in 1987 and it was able to begin democratizing. 

Today, only 12 countries recognize Taiwan as an independent country. In order to deter aggression from China, the U.S. formally regards Taiwan as part of China and does not recognize Taiwan’s independence.

It also is not one of the 193 member states of the United Nations, meaning it can’t vote on global issues with the UN General Assembly. 

“Taiwan has to demonstrate to the international community that they (Taiwan) can do their best to stand on their own,” Chang said. 

Taiwan has done so by developing an industry that the world can’t do without — the semiconductor industry. Many electronics rely on semiconductors, including phones, laptops and some car features. The devices also power internet routers. 

Currently, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company produces more than 90% of the world’s most advanced semiconductor chips. 

The industry is called Taiwan’s “Silicon Shield” because it protects Taiwan from global superpowers under the assumption that the world will help Taiwan or risk losing the vital product.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $95 billion aid bill on April 20 that includes $8 billion to Taiwan. On April 23, the Senate passed the bill. The money to Taiwan will go toward deterring China from trying to take more control of the Indo-Pacific region. 

“So, you can see that Taiwan is always in the situation of walking the tightrope,” Chang said.

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About the Contributors
Loren Amelunke
Loren Amelunke, Reporter
Loren Amelunke is a second year news reporter for The Sunflower. Amelunke is a currently a psychology major, but she ultimately plans to be an investigative journalist or a foreign correspondent in the future.
Cameryn Davis
Cameryn Davis, Illustrator/Designer
Cameryn Davis is a sophomore at WSU pursuing a graphic design degree. After graduating, Davis aims to work in design and illustration. Davis uses she/her pronouns.

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