I've been in Taiwan a long time now, and I've gotten comfortable here...adjusted as it were. But I do think back to when I first got here. People back in the states would ask me two questions:
1. Why are you going to Taiwan?
and 2. Do you speak any Chinese?
Although I couldn't answer the first one in any definitive way, my answer the the latter was always a serious None.
In the back of my mind however I always knew in some way why I decided to come here and how important learning Chinese would be. Although most of my friends and family thought I was nuts to come here, I think it was the best decision I've ever made. Realistically besides the life experience and adventure part of it, the only thing I will really gain for future career opportunities is the language experience. No one will look at my resume and say "wow you taught English" but knowing Chinese even a little bit will improve my chances in whatever capacity or field I end up in (Ideally the Human Rights field).
This has only been reaffirmed recently with the severe economic shortage. China's economy is stable, and not only that but they are owning more and more of our assets, this Times article goes into more detail.
Taiwan is technically in a recession, but recent talks with China have left the door wide open for more and more corroboration (economically as well as politically). Taiwan is still in a frenzy over the pandas they got from China, and the political party in power here now favors a more balanced partnership with China. Cross-strait flights are common. With Taiwan's number one trading partner (the US) weakened, and closer ties happening with China, perhaps stronger economic ties will take place between China and Taiwan.
The problem as I see it, and one that has been explained in the first article, is that as China begins to invest more and more in our economy and more importantly in Taiwan's (as is inevitably going to happen)....is that they are going to want to have more and more input into both country's economic affairs. And with so much capital flowing into either country....the posturing China can do will have significant affects. With all this capital investment from China (which will undoubtedly be the next great power, and no doubt aspire to imperial aspirations just as the UK and US have done before); we can be held hostage.
As a hypothetical....let's say that a resolution regarding the political status of Taiwan comes up for a vote in the Security Council. Now as a staunch supporter of Taiwan, the US would be expected to support Taiwan. But the threat of China pulling its ownership out of several companies if the US fails to vote a certain way; is bound to influence how the US will vote. Especially since we'll be licking our wounds from this economic crisis for a long time to come.
Granted this is all a hypothetically improbable situation, but dozens of similar situations are bound to happen. The weaker our economy, the weaker Taiwan's will be; the weaker Taiwan's the more they will seek cooperation with China; and the more interaction between China and Taiwan , the more decades old political hostilities will be renewed (especially if there ever comes a time when the US's support of Taiwan waivers).
Let's hope the China/Taiwan issue doesn't become the new flashpoint for the establishing of a new world power.
Happy St. Patrick's Day !