China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and sees the democratic and autonomous island as a province on the run.
The Chinese Communist Party never ruled the island, but sought to push Taiwan to accept Beijing’s rule as a “one country, two systems.”
Hong Kong is a former British colony now ruled by China on the “one country, two systems” principle, which grants Chinese territory a largely separate economic and legal system and allows those who live there limited electoral rights.
Even though China has never given up on the use of the military force to bring Taiwan back under his rule, Roche said he doubted Beijing would take this route. That’s because China risks worsening relations with the United States if it takes Taiwan by force, said Roche, who compared the current relationship between the world’s two largest economies to a cold war.
Relations between the United States and China have deteriorated in recent months, with the two sides clashing over a wide range of issues, including the origin of the coronavirus, Hong Kong autonomy and national security concerns regarding Chinese technology companies.
Taiwan has also remained a contentious issue in the bilateral relations between the two countries. Washington has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
“Despite the lack of a formal treaty between the United States and Taiwan for mutual defense – or America’s defense of Taiwan – in reality, if there was such a move by China militarily against Taiwan, the United States would most certainly act, ”Roche said.
It would take US-China relations “from cold war to hot war,” he said.
– CNBC’s Huileng Tan contributed to this report.