Taiwan, or the Republic of China, which is the official name, is a de facto independent state in East Asia. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is currently controlling the People’s Republic of China wants to get control over Taiwan. They are not getting tired in spreading the lie that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and needs to be reunited. If you know a little bit about history, then you should know that Taiwan was not really a part of China, and particularly never a part of the People’s Republic of China.

A very brief history recap

Trigger warning! Following is a very, very brief summary of the history of Taiwan. I know that many experts are freaking out right now. If you want to get an accurate in depth review of Taiwan’s history, you can start with Wikipedia and work your way down the rabbit hole of the history of Taiwan and the Republic of China.

Most of historic times Chinese emperors didn’t care much about Taiwan. Only during the Qing dynasty, the emperor took control of some parts of western and northern Taiwan. From 1895 to 1945 Taiwan was a Japanese colony and was then returned to the Republic of China. After Chiang Kai-shek lost most of the territory in China to the communists, he fled to Taiwan and established a provisional government with the aim of taking back control of China one day. Fast forward. Taking back control never happened, and meanwhile Taiwan transitioned from a dictatorship under martial law into a democratic country with a society enjoying a high level of freedom.

Chinese coercion

However, the CCP tries since decades to do everything to unify Taiwan with the mainland. Especially in recent years under Xi Jinping the pressure against Taiwan increased and it ranges from peaceful incentives like offering lucrative business opportunities and jobs, to snatching up Taiwan’s diplomatic alleys, limiting and blocking Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, up to blatantly threat Taiwan with war.

But there is no need for Xi and his comrades in the CCP to make all these efforts and threats, because time is on China’s side. Taiwan will come to China and both unite peacefully. Xi Jinping does not need to waste money to build a big army that can conquer Taiwan. He does not need to bully other countries in the attempt to diplomatically isolate Taiwan. He does not need to invent fancy ideas to lure Taiwanese professionals to work in China and forcing a brain drain in Taiwan.

He only needs to grab a chair, sit down at the beach somewhere around Xiamen, drink some green tea or baijiou, and watch patiently Taiwan slowly moving towards China. Yes, Taiwan will become a part of China. No matter how hard people are trying to avoid it. It will happen.

But Xi Jinping and his comrades need to be patient. Very, very patient. Because it will happen slowly.

Artist interpretation of Xi Jinping waiting for Taiwan to unite with China. (Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels).

The slow move of Taiwan to China

It will take about 3 Million years until Taiwan arrives at the coast of China. Based on the current knowledge about the tectonic setting in this region, we know that the Philippine Sea Plate is moving with 8-9 cm per year in north-western direction and creates a subduction zone with the Eurasian Plate. This subduction zone actually led to the creation of the island of Taiwan, which started about 6 Million years ago. Due to this tectonic movement, the subduction zone and Taiwan are pushed with about 4 to 5 cm per year in western direction towards mainland China.

However, the tectonic situation is very complex and it is not clear if the movements will continue with this speed and in this direction. It is possible that the plate movements will slow down, get faster, change directions, or something else unexpected happens over time.

Three-dimensional geodynamic setting of Taiwan. (Image from Malavieille et al. (2019))

Big changes are ahead for China and Taiwan

But you should not expect that the movement of Taiwan will be like that of a ship, which sails across the Taiwan Strait and then docks at the coast. The island of Taiwan will undergo some significant changes until it arrives in China. It will definitely not look like the island we know and love today.

The high mountain range will continue to rise. Weathering and erosion of the mountains will produce large amounts of sediments, which will be carried by rivers into the Taiwan Strait. These rivers will build huge deltas and slowly fill up the Taiwan Strait. Large parts of the southern west coast and Pingtung area will subside and they will be flooded due to the rising sea level. The tectonic activities might even cause Taiwan to break apart in the area of Yilan, probably accompanied by reactivated volcanism in northern Taiwan.

Also the coast of China will undergo some changes. And when Taiwan arrives in China, it will be probably squeezed against the mainland and intermingled into the mountains there. In the worst case it will be pushed under the mountains and disappear. Indeed, the geologic future of Taiwan doesn’t look so pretty, but it will be quite exciting.

What I just wrote is what I think what could happen. But experts might disagree and have another, perhaps brighter, vision for the geologic future of Taiwan.

This article was published on the 1st April 2021. If you are not familiar with the meaning of the 1st April, I suggest reading this article on Wikipedia: April Fool’s Day

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