It’s complex, it’s several thousand miles away from the U.S. mainland, and it’s also a dispute with great international consequences. The distance between China and Taiwan may surprise you if you’ve never been to Asia. However, it’s not as simple as looking at the proximity of landmasses. The China-Taiwan relationship continues to be of importance to the United States, as any conflict between the two is sure to affect our economy due to the semiconductor industry in the region. Additionally, even if indirectly, a conflict between the United States and China would become inevitable.
How Far Is Taiwan From Mainland China?
Part of the reason that the China Taiwan news cycle continues to swirl is their proximity to one another. While this can vary depending on which part of the island you’re on, the distance between China and Taiwan is only 81 miles from coast to coast at its shortest.
While the China to Taiwan distance does provide a bit of a buffer, courtesy of the Taiwan Strait, it’s clear that these two are neighbors without much separating them. For reference:
- Traveling from downtown Chicago, IL, to Milwaukee, WI, will take you between 92 and 102 miles.
- There is more distance covered traveling from NYC to Philadelphia considering a ride in your car can be almost 100 miles taking the short route.
- If you travel from the southern border of Texas through the northernmost point, you could have made the distance from China to Taiwan almost 10 times.
Are these analogies the best examples? Probably not, but they do paint a picture and prove just how large the Lone Star State truly is. However, no matter what side you look at it from, the China-Taiwan tensions don’t have much separation between them to cool down.
But the question still remains as to why the United States is so involved in the growing tensions. It could be noble, even if not our business, to simply say the U.S. is doing it to help keep democracy in Taiwan. While this is a noted benefit, there’s more to it.
Why the Conflict Interests the U.S.
The distance from China to Taiwan may be important to the U.S., but it’s not the only measure of mileage America is concerned about:
- There may not be a base on Taiwan officially but make no mistake there are American troops in the region.
- Speaking of, Guam is a noted military hotspot of strategic importance for the United States. Taiwan may not be the end-all-be-all buffer between mainland Asia and the tiny island territory, but it’ll have to do.
- Beyond simply being a successful democracy in Asia, Taiwan is important for our economy. This has become even more prevalent with the heavier reliance on semiconductors. Not only are most created on the island but also over 90% of the most advanced ones come from Taiwan.
- The distance from China to the Philippines is also an increasingly complex situation. Access to Taiwan would further complicate the situation.
Suggested read: What Would Really Happen in a U.S. War With China?
The Distance Between China and Taiwan Seems to Be Irrelevant
Regardless of the distance between China and Taiwan, the historical significance remains and the current geopolitical situation is undeniable. Seeing eye-to-eye seems harder and hard to do as many military experts are preparing for the worst.
With the transfers of powers and succession of conflicts came new treaties, agreements, and points of view. China and Japan both have a historical tie to the island. Additionally, the U.S. continues to have significant interest in avoiding conflict in the region.
But the island is far from the exception when it comes to Asia’s leading power looking to expand. The China military Taiwan showdown is tense but there have been other issues. China’s ambitions in the South Pacific are well documented and angering neighbors.
While both sides may continue to echo their points, the distance between China and Taiwan isn’t as far as you might expect. Sadly, we may also be closer to an unavoidable conflict if the two don’t dramatically change course and learn to coexist.
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