Growing up in Taiwan, Huang Yu-lin has become accustomed to chatter about potential military conflict with mainland China. But it wasn’t until Russia invaded Ukraine that she started to seriously consider what she would do in such a scenario.
“Hearing it so often, it was a bit like crying wolf,” the 32-year-old energy policy researcher said. Now, with a war raging in Europe and deteriorating cross-strait relations, she’s begun looking into medical training and browsing war survival manuals. “I’ve become more and more worried. This is something that needs to be taken seriously,” she said.
For days, the world has been captivated by the invasion of Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought control of the former Soviet republic’s capital, Kyiv, and ordinary citizens have taken up arms to defend their country. In Taiwan, the apprehension comes with added anxiety over its own precarious geopolitical standing, under the shadow of an aggressive neighbor pushing a territorial claim.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is determined to eventually bring the democratically ruled island back into the Communist Party’s fold. While Beijing has called for peaceful reunification, record incursions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone are a regular reminder that Xi hasn’t ruled out the use of force.
“We feel totally related because of the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to Taiwan every day,” said Chen Kuan-ting, chief executive of Taiwan NextGen Foundation, a think tank politically aligned with the governing Democratic Progressive Party. “We need to invest more in our own national defense, and that is the only way to deter aggression.”