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Sizing Up Taiwan

China has its eyes set on swallowing Taiwan. As the small, but vibrant island nation rises in importance on the global agenda, we present some pivotal facts.

May 30, 2024

1

Taiwan has never been part of China, therefore history provides no justification for Xi Jinping’s visions of “reunification.”

2

Most Taiwanese – over 60% – consider themselves Taiwanese, while only 3% see themselves as Chinese.

3

In 2023, the total population of Taiwan increased to approximately 23.5 million. The population of China stood at 1.41 billion in 2023.

4

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2023, Taiwan ranked tenth in the world – and is the leading democracy in Asia.

5

By contrast, China is classed as an “authoritarian regime,” and is ranked 148th in the world.

6

Taiwan’s GDP in 2022 was estimated at $828.66 billion, ranking 21st among all the 192 nations covered – and is expected to cross the $1 trillion mark by 2027.

7

China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, accounting for 25.2% of total trade, followed by the United States at 12.6%. Other major trading partners include Japan (10.3%), Hong Kong (7.8%) and the Republic of Korea (6.1%).

8

Taiwan has become one of the most important high-tech economies in the world. Taiwan produces over 60% of the world's semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced ones.

9

Taiwan is seeking to increase defense spending by 3.5% to a record of $19 billion in 2024. China’s military spending will reach $236.1 billion in 2024.

10

The United States is committed to the independence of Taiwan and is a major arms supplier with a current backlog of $19.17 billion. This has led to tensions between the United States and China – particularly in the South China Sea.

Sources: The Washington Times, Australian Institute of International Affairs, EIU Democracy Index, Hudson Institute, Nasdaq, Council on Foreign Relations, Defense News, Statista, The Economist, Cato Institute

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Takeaways

China has its eyes set on swallowing Taiwan. As the small, but vibrant island nation rises in importance on the global agenda, we present some pivotal facts.