NATO leaders summit
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What Happens If Taiwan Joins NATO?

Ruchi Gupta - Author
By

Mar. 14 2022, Published 12:11 p.m. ET

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, where the aggressor is blaming the NATO enlargement program, has renewed focus on Chinese-Taiwanese relations. Although Taiwan is an independent country, China considers it a part of its territory. Is Taiwan in NATO?

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NATO is a military alliance of some 30 member countries, all in Europe besides the U.S. and Canada. The alliance, formed in 1949 after World War 2, had 12 founding members: the U.S., Belgium, Canada, France, Denmark, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K., Iceland, Portugal, and Luxembourg. It's headquartered in Brussels.

The role of NATO in the Russia-Ukraine conflict

NATO members commit to collectively defend one another should any of them be attacked by an external party. The defense guarantee has enticed many countries to join the alliance.

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As a result, NATO's membership has grown significantly since its start. But the expansion has been opposed by Russia, especially with former Soviet countries seeking to join the alliance. NATO's expansion has been a factor in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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Taiwan isn’t in NATO and may never join the alliance

Taiwan isn’t a NATO member and may never be part of the alliance. A country must go through certain steps before it can be allowed in, and the process often takes years to complete.

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What happens if Taiwan joins NATO?

While Taiwan isn’t in NATO, the U.S. considers it its major non-NATO ally. America’s other non-NATO allies are Brazil, New Zealand, and Qatar.

The U.S. is also making military allies in the Asia-Pacific region. China has warned the U.S. against building a NATO equivalent in Asia and offering military support to Taiwan, threatening dire consequences.

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What countries might join NATO?

Other countries seeking NATO membership are Ireland, Serbia, Finland, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, and Georgia. The alliance's most recent additions are Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020).

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