Today’s ongoing debate over whether the U.S. can – or should – sell arms to Taiwan is largely being ignored by mainstream American media.
While this may seem like a repeat of the ongoing issue of “One China”, it is set against a broader context this time, and that is China’s President Xi political and military ambitions. Unlike his predecessors, Xi has consolidated power in a fashion not seen since Chairman Mao’s time, and has made no apologies for claiming sovereign rights over an ever-growing territory.
My novel Rare Mettle, conceived in 2013 and published in 2016, envisions developments exactly as they are happening now. Disputes over Taiwanese arms sales provoke a trade embargo, and embroils the US, Silicon Valley, and China in a behind-the-scenes battle for control over a very key asset: purified Rare Earth metals. These metals are needed for high-tech military gear and smart phones, drones and wind turbines, advanced submarines and MRIs.
Perhaps my fictional scenario is too painful to consider. But then again, sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending we won’t have to deal with China as a competitor for earth’s critical assets ultimately may be just as painful.