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As Eastern Europe edges closer to war, the U.S. and Russia are squaring off as China watches the outcome.   © Illustration by Chuan Ming Ong
The Big Story

Ukraine crisis highlights superpowers' quarrel over spheres of influence

As Russia and the U.S. focus on Eastern Europe, China is taking notes for Taiwan

EIJI FURUKAWA, Contributing writer | Russia & Caucasus

KYIV -- On Ukraine's eastern border, 100,000 Russian troops are massing, along with an armada of tanks, mobile artillery and aircraft, awaiting the Kremlin's command to invade. Across the frontier, Ukraine's defense forces are dug in and on high alert. In the midst of the drama, one place is growing especially nervous: Taiwan.

With Russia threatening to invade its neighbor unless NATO forswears Ukraine's membership in the bloc, the crisis is already reverberating far outside Europe. Many Taiwanese, for example, believe Beijing is watching the outcome carefully, and it could have dire consequences for their island, which lives with the constant threat of "reunification" with the mainland.

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