China declared an extensive set of war exercises surrounding Taiwan in retaliation to Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker,’s recent visit to Taiwan.

These military drills will intrude into the territory of the island’s territorial waters and blockade it from all outsiders. They began on August 2.

These exercises will be conducted by ground, sea and air forces in order to pose the greatest threat to independence for the territory in many decades.

Beijing seems to be preparing for an attack against the island. President Xi Jinping promised to’reunify’ the country with the mainland – force if necessary.

China could invade the US, which is a good ally of Taiwan. It will probably bring about a conflict between the global superpowers. 

How did this happen? Why is Taiwan and China such bitter foes? How did America become involved in this conflict?

Here, MailOnline answers your pressing questions… 

Taiwan: What and where?

Taiwan, a group of islands located around 80 miles from the coast of south China. It is where the East China Sea meets the South China Sea. 

There are 23million residents. It has also been ruled over by China’s Qing rulers and the Dutch colonisers. 

Taiwan is a group of islands that are located about 80 miles offshore of the mainland of China. This area is where the East China Sea meets South China Sea.

Why do tensions exist around the islands

It goes back over 100 years to the time when China was called the Republic of China after it had abolished its last Dynasty, the Qing, in 1911. 

This new nation, which was divided by feuding political factions as well as remnant royalists and warlords, was at war.

To reunite the country, the Chinese Nationalist Party (fighting for the Republic) allied themselves with the Chinese Communist Party. In 1927 they began an attack which led to the Chinese Civil War.

The campaign had some success, but they were quickly fighting one another.

Communist troops fight in the Battle of Siping against the Nationalists, in which the Nationalists suffered huge casualties

Communist troops participate in the Battle of Siping to defeat the Nationalists. The Nationalists were heavily wounded in this battle.

The Nationalists held control over most of China by 1931. However, wars with Communists and the Japanese had to be stopped when they invaded.

This invasion was overthrown when Japan won the Second World War. In 1945, Japan surrendered and the Nationalists or Communists began fighting again.

This time, however, it was the Communists, supported by Soviet Russia, who were dominant. In 1949, the Republic of China was forced from its mainland location to Taiwan. Taiwan was under their control.

Mao Zedong was the leader of the Communists and established then the People’s Republic of China (or People’s Republic of China) on the mainland.

The Taiwan Strait separates the former enemies, but they remain at odds today. 

Taiwan considers itself an independent nation, but China sees Taiwan as a separate province that must be “reunified” – even though the Communists never held power there.

Comment did the US become involved in this conflict?

For decades, America did not recognize the People’s Republic and maintained close relations with Taiwan.

In 1950, two crises occurred. Some of Taiwan’s islands were attacked by Communist forces. The US sent ships to support its ally.

All of this changed after Mao’s 1976 death. Reformer Deng Xiaoping assumed control and vowed to open China to the rest of the world.

China’s modernization under Deng led to President Jimmy Carter agreeing to normalize relations with Beijing. In 1979 they signed a agreement.

US President Jimmy Carter and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping sign documents establishing formal diplomatic relations in 1979

US President Jimmy Carter, Deng Xiaoping (Chinese leader) sign papers establishing formal diplomatic relationships in 1979 

In the course of the deal, Carter’s administration accepted to acknowledge the principle of ‘one China’ – there is only one China. Taiwan is not a part.

Congress responded by passing a law compelled America to furnish weapons to the island in self-defense.

China tried to intimidate Taiwan in another crisis, which was triggered by a string of missile launches. This prompted a tremendous display of US military might. 

Beijing ultimately backed down. 

Is it possible to explain how the current crisis began?

Xi Jinping gave a speech in 2019 committing himself to 'reunifying' Taiwan, saying he would use force if necessary

Xi Jinping spoke in 2019 and committed himself to reunifying Taiwan. He also stated that he would resort to force if necessary.

Xi Jinping, China’s current president, made a speech on 2019 in which he vowed’reunification’ Taiwan with China. Calling it the great trend of historical history.

Xi opened the door to peaceful reunification but added that: ‘We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures.’

These remarks were made amid an extensive update from the Chinese military. They came after China built bases on South China Sea Islands and threatened US ships near these islands.

Since his speech in 2003, Beijing has menaced Taiwan with its military aircraft flying across the Strait in increasing numbers.

As a counterbalance to Beijing’s power, America has formed new alliances with countries like India, Australia, and Japan.

Was it Pelosi’s trip to the United States?

Pelosi was the US’s highest ranking official after Newt Gingrich, and she visited the island in 1997. She landed there on August 3, 2022.

She visited the US as part of an alliance tour to the region. This was done in order to demonstrate America’s support for Beijing’s increased aggression.

Pelosi was a vocal critic of China’s human rights records for many decades. This trip was seen by some as a way to continue that tradition as she closes her career.

Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on August 3, in a move that provoke fury in Beijing

Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on August 3, in a move that provoke fury in Beijing

However, the visit was not in Mr Xi’s best interest. He is preparing for a historic third term as president and sees’reunifying Taiwan’ as his destiny.

With an extraordinary show of strength, he has responded by promising that “those who are good at playing with fire will be killed.”

Xi has ordered that six days worth of military drills be held around Taiwan. These will effectively blockade Taiwanese and encroach upon its territorial waters. 

Is it possible for the US and China to go to war?

Officially, America’s Taiwan policy is called “strategic confusion”, which refers to Washington’s refusal to state what its response would be if China invades.

Although President Biden stated repeatedly that the US will help Taiwan during a conflict, the White House has insisted that his statements were not accurate.

Chinese anti-aircraft batteries take part in military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan

Chinese anti-aircraft battery participates in military drills to intimidate Taiwan

America has always sent its troops and ships into danger whenever Taiwan was under threat or attacked.

It is possible that the US might send its forces to help an ally in case of fighting breaking out. This would put them directly under the attack from the Chinese.

You can easily see why the superpowers could clash, whether by design or accident. However, this outcome is not certain. 

What would happen to Taiwan if it was attacked?

It would definitely be bloody if there was a war between Taiwanese people and China, regardless of whether the US were involved.

Taiwan boasts a modern army equipped with American weapons of the highest quality. It has been prepping for an attack from China for many decades.

Although Taiwan’s largest island may seem small, it is much larger than Belgium. 

The capture would prove difficult and the resistance will likely be strong.

A Chinese Xian H-6 bomber is pictured in the skies over the Taiwan Strait, amid huge military drills that will effectively blockade the island

A Chinese Xian H-6 bomber is pictured in the skies over the Taiwan Strait, amid huge military drills that will effectively blockade the island

Taiwan happens to be the world’s most populous country. Civilian casualties will be very high as there is no escape route.

These would have severe knock-on consequences. Global recession is possible due to the likely emergence of tit-for-tat measures between China and the USA – two of the largest economies in the world.

Taiwan’s location is close to major shipping lines that could be affected. China could also cut off its exports from the West, which would cause inflation.

It is the single largest producer of semiconductors, which are essential for making computer chips. Any war would cause production to cease.

The result would be a shortage of all things, from smartphones to computers and cars, as well as a threat to critical infrastructure, such satellites.