Earlier this year, a Hague tribunal rejected China's claim to exclusive rights to the South China Sea. The decision prompted interested parties in the region to stake their own claims to the waterway, including Taiwan, which sent a warship to the area.
It was a provocative move. How powerful is Taiwan? Laura Ling counts the ways in today's Seeker Daily report.
Economically, Taiwan is a global powerhouse and one of the Four Asian Tigers, along with Honk Kong, South Korea and Singapore. After rapid industrialization in the second half of the 20th century, the country shifted its focus from farming to manufactured exports -- especially electronics and machinery. Today, Taiwan's economy is industrial, capitalist, and highly export-driven.
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However, due to its unique relationship with China, Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by most countries and is not a member of the United Nations. China claims that Taiwan is part of their country, and has blocked the island's attempts at independence. Taiwan, on the other hand, prohibits reunification with China without a public referendum and legislative support. It's complicated, as the young people say.
That hasn't stopped the country from building up its own military, however. The country boasts an army of nearly 2 million, and a defense budget of more than $10 billion dollars. Proportionally, that's about the same as the U.S., which is famous for prioritizing defense.
Taiwan is certainly on the upswing in recent decades and its economic power can't be denied. Its poverty rate is among the lowest in the world, and the country ranks exceptionally high in terms of press freedoms, health care and quality of life. Even during recent global economic slowdowns, Taiwan has thrived. No wonder China is doesn't want to let go. For more on that highly dysfunctional relationship, check out our earlier coverage on the issue.
-- Glenn McDonald
Bloomberg: China Finds Ally in Taiwan's Leader in Rejecting Sea Ruling
CIA World Factbook: Taiwan
Taiwan Today: Poll finds most happy with quality of life in Taiwan