China and Taiwan are in a military face-off for a singular reason: xenophobia. Taiwan had everything it needed to counter China without help from the US, but it snubbed foreigners and still continues to do so today.
Were it not for the US, neither China nor Taiwan would have limped so far along. China’s “miracle” economy was made of money from the US. Taiwan’s weapons use technology developed primarily by the US.
As much as both China and Taiwan have benefited from the US, these two countries have some of the most strict laws against naturalizing foreigners.
That doesn’t include a serious lack of protection against intrusion of immigrants’ rights. When Americans—or any other Westerner—or any other foreigner for that matter—finds work in Taiwan or China, companies impose extra rules to take away what few legal rights they have as foreign employees; then government does nothing, it just sits there and watches. In Taiwan, this largely happens with employment. In China, it happens with entire companies.
Even if foreign workers can find a way to survive the onslaught of attacks against their rights, the most they could expect in the end is an elevated residence status—if they are rich. If they aren’t wealthy, no chance. Without citizenship, foreigners in Taiwan have few rights—they aren’t even allowed a phone and landlords can reject them merely on the basis of being a foreigner.
China aside, if Taiwan allowed, then protected a path to citizenship for Westerners working in Taiwan, those naturalized citizens would have had more rights to work and contribute to Taiwan’s culture, language, economy, and technology. If that had happened, it very well could be the US seeking to buy weapons from Taiwan, and China might be more inclined to behave.
The same could be said of China, which has made itself so desperately dependent on US money by keeping foreigners within their own borders at an arm’s length.
This conflict between Taiwan and China was caused by xenophobia from both sides. By not demanding equal respect toward Americans in their borders, but engaging in trade and weapons sales anyway, the US allowed two kittens to grow into a bobcat and a tiger. And, now the whole world faces a huge cat fight—whenever China decides to take advantage of the election ambiguity in the US and bust a foolish move against Taiwan.