The American Congress’ Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has today (2/8/22) landed in Taiwan, against China’s wishes. China is therefore about to start “live fire” military exercises around Taiwan.

In Comparative Politics, what are the main similarities and differences between the present Taiwan and Donbas political dilemmas?

  • 13
    Too broad, you want us to compare 2 completely different situations. Where to start with? History, legal status, geography, international recognition and support, economy? But the main difference is that one is an active, shooting war and the other is not.
    – SJuan76
    Aug 3, 2022 at 4:16
  • 1
    @SJuan. I specially mentioned the political situation, so that would have to be the main focus. Aug 3, 2022 at 4:44
  • 1
    Too broad indeed. I suppose the visit of Pelosi is seen here as a provocation similar to suggesting that Ukraine joins NATO. Aug 3, 2022 at 16:02
  • You can likely narrow down the focus of the question by just asking for similarities. As the situations are almost nothing alike, asking for differences is asking for a text book.
    – uberhaxed
    Aug 3, 2022 at 18:47
  • 1
    Couldn't understand the motive of this question, these two nations are currently in totally different political situations, what one could gain from their comparison I can't understand. I guess the answer given does more appropriate comparison upvoting the answer but downvoting the question Aug 7, 2022 at 8:47

3 Answers 3


As a counterpoint to @Constantthin's answer, I would say that it makes much more sense to compare China with Russia, and Taiwan with Ukraine:

  1. China's official stance is that Taiwan is not a country, but part of China, and historical arguments are often presented in support of that view. Similarly, Russian president in his 2022-02-21 speech presented historical arguments for Ukraine being part of Russia. That speech marked beginning of a full-scale attack on whole Ukraine, which can be understood as de-facto revocation of recognition of Ukraine. Russia is also considering de-jure revocation of recognition of Ukraine. Moreover, Russia already annexed Crimea in 2014, and considers annexing several other Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine. China, on the other hand, legally claims whole Taiwan, but doesn't currently occupy any of its parts.

  2. Both China and Russia are nuclear superpowers, which means that attack on what they consider their territory carries risk of nuclear escalation.

  3. Both Taiwan and Ukraine have complicated history of relationships with China and Russia, respectively:

  1. Both Taiwan and Ukraine used to be under influence of other neighbours in the past, and currently have good relations with those neighbours. Taiwan used to be a Japanese colony, and large parts of Ukraine used to belong to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Currently Taiwan has bad relations with China and good relations with Japan, and Ukraine has very bad relations with Russia and good relations with Poland.

  2. Both Taiwan and Ukraine are democratic (though some freedoms in Ukraine have been suspended due to the war), and both China and Russia are authoritarian.


In comparing the 2/8/22 Taiwan and Donbas political dilemmas, in the spirit of “Comparative Politics”, two main similarities stand out:

  1. As China wants Taiwan back, so Ukraine wants Donbas back; and

  2. Neither Taiwan, nor Donbas wants to be reunited with their big neighbour.

The three main differences between the two political dilemmas are:

  1. Taiwan has been independent a lot longer than Donbas.

  2. The political situation in Donbas right now is hot, while that in Taiwan is, although warming up, still cold; and

  3. The two breakaway regions have different motives for wanting to remain separated from their big neighbour. For Taiwan it is mainly for cultural * reasons, while for Donbas it is mainly for linguistic reasons.

Consequently, in comparing the similarities and differences in the present political dilemmas in Taiwan and Donbas it becomes evident that gross disrespect has been directed towards regional ethnic minorities, in both the two cases.

As far as minority suppression goes, China has a bad track record with Tibet as probably its biggest trophy. And Ukraine probably should have shown little Donbas as much grace as mother Russia showed it in 1991.

*“the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.” (Oxford Languages)


In addition to the other answers:

  1. Dissimilarity

    • Ukraine became part of the Russian empire when Catherine the Great annexed part of Ukraine in 1793. Ukraine was also part of the USSR, a communist republic.

    • On the other hand, Taiwan became part of mainland China in 1683 when Qing Dynasty started to rule Taiwan. However, it was never part of communist China.

  2. Similarity

    • Neither Ukraine nor Taiwan was an independent nation 300 years ago. They became independent very recently.
  • 1
    Neither Ukraine nor Taiwan was an independent nation historically. Please at least read some basic facts before writing complete nonsense. Ukraine was pretty much independent for the most part of its history and started to lose sovereignty only somewhere in 1750 due to Catherine the great. Please at least skim wikepedia before writing about stuff you have no knowledge about. Dec 5, 2022 at 4:48
  • As @SalvadorDali pointed out with Ukraine, Taiwan had its own independence from China, historically. If you wish to count "historically" to mean "In the last 300 years" then, yes, point 2 is accurate. Considering all of history to mean "historically" would make the 2nd point of this answer completely false.
    – David S
    Dec 5, 2022 at 15:43

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