When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24,
2022, the response from the Middle East was mixed. Turkey opposed the incursion, Qatar fretted about replacing Russian gas, while Saudi
Arabia offered to mediate. Taken together, it was a balanced approach between not antagonizing Moscow and
standing with Kyiv.اضافة اعلان

Yet, six months later, when Taiwan found
itself in the crosshairs of another authoritarian threat, the Middle East took
a very different tack, siding firmly with China.

These two policies — nuance on the one
hand, unwavering support on the other — make sense. What does not is how the
policies were applied. If peace and stability are the goal, support for Ukraine
should be resolute, while Taiwan requires a deft balancing act of diplomacy.

In the case of Ukraine, Russia’s invasion
is a violation of international law, including the United Nations charter
prohibiting the “use of force against the territorial integrity or
political independence of any state” by another UN member.

Less than a week after Russia opened fire,
the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the
attack. As US President Joe Biden noted at the time, the UN vote was
an unequivocal message from the world that “Russia cannot erase
a sovereign state from the map.”

Taiwan, on the other hand, is more
complicated. For decades, peace has been maintained across the Taiwan Strait
via a malleable diplomatic tightrope that gives Taiwan, the US, and China
remove to maneuver.

For its part, Washington supports Taiwan’s
right to self-govern, opposes independence, and spends billions to shore up
the island’s military defenses. This allows Beijing to claim
that Taiwan is a break-away province that will eventually be reunited with the

Although these positions are politically
disingenuous and historically fraught, the “status quo”, which draws on
the “Three No formula” — no unification, no independence, and no
use of force — has fueled Taiwan’s rise, making it one of the world’s most
important trading partners and producers of high-tech semiconductors.

This balance was tested in August. After US
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island, marking the highest-level US visit in 25 years, China reacted with
fury — launching large-scale military drills in response. Beijing
then pushed countries to take sides. 

In siding with China, the Middle East is in fact supporting a subtle shift in the status quo that could be costly for the Indo-Pacific and the world

In the Middle East, and particularly in the
Arabian Gulf, the choice seemed obvious. In a region where China is the biggest
buyer of crude oil, and where Beijing is investing heavily, supporting Taiwan was seen as
economic suicide.

Middle East leaders condemned Pelosi’s visit as unnecessarily antagonistic,
and earlier this month, the Arab League issued a statement “reaffirming
that Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory” and “rejecting
Taiwan’s ‘independence’ in all its forms.”

But in siding with China, the Middle East
is in fact supporting a subtle shift in the status quo that could be costly for
the Indo-Pacific, and the world. Bolstering China’s claim to the island could
embolden Xi’s own adventurism and empower his commitment to retaking Taiwan —
with force, if necessary.

Taiwan has never been part of the People’s
Republic of China. At the end of China’s civil war in 1949, Nationalist leader
Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan ahead of the Communist advance. More than a
million people followed. Today, Taiwan — officially the Republic of China — is
one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies. Beijing’s claim distorts history.

It also distorts the will of the Taiwanese
people. Since transitioning to democracy in 1996, Taiwan has increasingly
viewed itself as distinct from the Chinese mainland, and in frequent
surveys, most Taiwanese oppose China’s calls for “peaceful

With this increased sense of de facto
independence has come a growing willingness to fight to protect it. Politicians
openly discuss expanding required military service, and many Taiwanese spend
weekends learning how to handle a gun or dress gunshot wounds. 

“Without a doubt, the first Chinese bomb or rocket that should fall on the island would make the supply chain impact of the COVID pandemic seem like a mere hiccup in comparison”

Robert Tsao, a Taiwanese tech billionaire
and financier of one of these programs, told me that unlike Ukraine, the
Taiwanese have nowhere to go in the event of war. “We can’t run away from
this situation; we don’t have that luxury,” Tsao said. “If China invades,
we will have to fight.” 

Maintaining peace and stability across the
Taiwan Strait is of paramount importance for many Western leaders. Some 40
percent of the world’s container fleet and 80 percent of the largest ships by
tonnage pass through the Taiwan Strait. And more than 90
percent of the most advanced semiconductors used in computers, cars, and cell
phones are made in Taiwan. 

Any disruption to this vital supply chain
would send consumer prices surging globally. “Without a doubt, the first
Chinese bomb or rocket that should fall on the island would make the supply
chain impact of the COVID pandemic seem like a mere hiccup in
comparison,” predicts Richard Cronin, a China expert at the US Stimson

The Taiwanese themselves are confident that
the best approach to maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait is by maintaining the status quo. In October, 86 percent of the
island’s 23 million people held this view.

Standing with Taiwan does not mean not
doing business with China. Consider, for instance, that the status quo works
for China, too. In 2021, China purchased some $155 billion worth of chips from Taiwan, and Xi
clearly knows that shutting down this supply chain would cripple China’s

During a recent reporting trip to Taiwan, I
spoke with dozens of Taiwanese politicians, activists, technologists, and
policymakers. We explored the threat of war with Beijing, and what such a
conflict would mean for the world.

Not once during my eight days did the role
of the Middle East come up. If the Taiwan challenge is indeed a global concern,
the Middle East’s absence could prove decisive.

Greg C Bruno is the author of “Blessings
from Beijing: Inside China’s Soft-Power War on Tibet.” He is a senior editor
for Syndication Bureau, was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations
in New York and is a former opinion editor at The National in Abu Dhabi and
Project Syndicate in Prague. Twitter: @gregcbruno, Syndication Bureau.

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