Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why South Ossetia matters to Taiwan

As the world holds its breath and awaits confirmation that Russian troops have pulled out of Georgia, it is becoming clear that Europe has entered a new era of big power competition, with Russia trying to salvage what is left of its influence and the US/NATO continuing to fill the vacuum left following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But while the hostilities over South Ossetia seem to have ceased, the underlying factors — US hegemony and Russia’s counterbalancing strategy, oil, separatism — remain and will continue to threaten the region. With the US set to sign a missile defense site deal with Poland on Wednesday and Russia seeking to establish a permanent military base in South Ossetia, the likelihood of a flare-up remains high.

Beyond this are the risks to international stability that Russia’s massive response in Georgia engendered, especially when it comes to Beijing’s stance on the Taiwan issue. In "The wider implications of Georgia," published today in the Taipei Times, I argue that the precedent set by Moscow — an increasingly close ally of the People’s Republic of China — in Georgia could have serious implications for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

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