But in a park in the Taiwanese capital on Thursday, the topic of conversation was anything but the possibility of a conflict between Beijing and the island, which it considers part of its territory.
Huang and Chang, both grandmothers in their 80s, said they had spent the morning with friends talking about breakfast, tea and whether they should get some exercise.
He said that war is not something he has to worry about.
“We don’t worry about it at all. The danger has always been there and there is nothing to worry about. If it were to happen, it would have been a long time ago,” said Huang, who said she would have liked To be called Grandma Huang.
His calm stance contrasts with recent military maneuvers in the Taiwan Straits and brief statements from the leaders of mainland China and Taiwan, which have been governed separately since the end of the civil war more than seven decades ago.
In October alone, Beijing sent more than 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), breaking the daily record for such incursions, which Taipei calls radio warnings, anti-aircraft missile tracking or The fighter jets have vowed to respond with interceptions. .
On 9 October, Chinese President Xi Jinping – who has refused to rule out military force to occupy Taiwan if necessary – said a “reunification” between China and Taiwan was inevitable.
A day later, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said Taipei would not succumb to pressure from Beijing. “No one can force Taiwan to follow the path that China has laid out for us,” he said, adding that the democratic island’s future should be decided by its 24 million people.
“We are all Chinese”
Taiwan and US officials have publicly estimated that Beijing has the potential to invade the island within the next six years.
But on the streets of Taipei, this week’s mood was mostly relaxed and confident. While some said they were a little concerned about threats of forced “reunification” by Beijing, many believed the Chinese government would never really go ahead with it.
“I think mainland China and Taiwan have always coexisted peacefully. There are Taiwanese people in mainland China, and here in Taiwan there are mainland people. We are all Chinese people,” said a market in Taipei. Trader 38-year-old Vicky Tsai said.
The merchant said that military tensions didn’t really have much impact on the daily lives of most people, dismissing them as “a game played by the upper class”. “I think making money is more important,” she said.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ by China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force have in fact become so routine – about 400 since May – that layoffs rarely become front-page news domestically.
“Battle of Psychics”
Liu Ting-ting, who reports on the military for Taiwan’s TVBS news channel, said that although tensions were rising in the region, it did not affect daily life.
“People are more concerned … can they put food on the table,” she said.
Liu said he had no doubt that Beijing might try to take Taiwan by force if it felt it had no other choice, adding that the island’s people “have no say in it.”
“They can’t do anything about it,” she said.
Liu described China’s military layoffs as a “battle of psychics”. She said that while both Beijing and Taipei were trying to project military power, it appeared that China wanted to instill fear among the people of Taiwan.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged China to halt military activity around Taiwan and reiterated America’s commitment to the island, calling it “rock solid”.
Asked whether he believed the US would help Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, opinion was divided among Taiwanese people interviewed by CNN.
Lisu Su, 34, a herbal tea shop owner, said Taiwan’s “strategic position” meant the US would have to help defend the island.
“As long as Taiwan does not admit defeat and has a strong defense capability, I think the US will certainly help,” he said.
Huang and Chang, octogenarians, were more observant. While they said they did not want war, both believed that any possible invasion was beyond the control of the people of Taiwan.
“If it’s destined to happen, it doesn’t matter whether you worry about it or not,” Huang said.
Gladys Tsai contributed to this report.