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HomeGeopolitical CompassEast Asia“Ukraine Today, Taiwan Tomorrow”: Should Southeast Asia Worry?

“Ukraine Today, Taiwan Tomorrow”: Should Southeast Asia Worry?

Author: Drew Thompson

Affiliation: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Organization/Publisher: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

Date/Place: April 19, 2022/Singapore

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 3272


Keywords: China, Taiwan, Russia-Ukraine Conflict, South China Sea




The Ukraine invasion by Russian military force could be a sign that nowadays a stronger state will not hesitate to use military for the sake of expansion. Hence, “Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow” is trending around Taiwan’s social media, reflecting the insecurity of Taiwanese that China will use military force against Taiwan, just like Russia did to Ukraine. This article examines the implications for Southeast Asian countries, the author arguing that this cross-strait issue will create a negative political, security and economic consequences for Southeast Asia. The ASEAN has stated that it will keep neutral and uphold the fundamental premise of peaceful resolution of disputes without resort to violence. Because a military conflict between China and Taiwan would impact the tension in the South China Sea in which the Philippines’ territorial air and sea space will be directly affected, the author indicates two security implications for Southeast Asia. First, if China succeeds in unifying Taiwan it will increase the hegemonic power of Beijing in the region and it will be more assertive in defending its maritime rights in the South China Sea. Second, if China fails to annex Taiwan, there is a chance that Beijing will seek redemption through military force against a less-capable region, Southeast Asia being a possibility. Finally, this cross-strait conflict would also impact the economic environment. Because Southeast Asia is very reliant on manufacturing bases in both China and Taiwan, a military conflict would surely disrupt the economic activity in the region. Moreover, potential sanctions by the international community would increase the economic damage for Southeast Asia.   

By: Salman Nugraha, CIGA Research Intern



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