By Denys Springer
The pace of China’s military innovation, focused largely upon land, air and naval hardware suitable for use against a nearby adversary within 300 kilometers of its coast, has since been extended with long-range missiles. This makes it difficult to escape the conclusion that the PRC is preparing either contingency plans for an outright invasion of Taiwan or is massing its forces to such an extent that, it expects compliance from Taiwan without having to fire one shot.
That is what they would like to see happen, but they had not contemplated a DPP government led by a president who is no pushover. Years ago, China may have thought that they had support in Taiwan but the younger generation of Taiwanese don’t see themselves as Chinese or Han per se but Taiwanese.
According to an assessment by the US Department of Defense it is being envisaged that the PRC is presently trying to push Taiwan into a political solution favourable to Beijing by share intimidation which takes in what I term PPP (provocation, power and propaganda). However, what we are beginning to see is that the credibility of China in 2021 is at low ebb, with the majority of the democratic countries of the world becoming anti-China. And even those who invested in China are now moving their businesses out.
There are many reasons for this, more so, some believe that genocide is taking place in the Xinjiang Province against the Uyghur’s minority Muslims, the dismantling of any form of democracy in Hong Kong, Macau; Tibet against the Buddhist monks in that country and their monasteries that are being torn down. The assault on their religion and belief has made the world skeptical of China’s global desires.
Some years ago many were aware that the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) did not give any assurance that the US would come to the aid of Taiwan if it was attacked by China.
Recently, president Biden made it clear that any attack on Taiwan will bring the US into that confrontation. They will help defend Taiwan vigorously to the extent that naval bases in the Philippines and other areas like Okinawa are being reinforced. In fact, some in the American Senate and elsewhere are pushing Taiwan to align itself to Japan, at present arming itself should China suddenly decide to flex its muscle.
Those who favour that alignment are of the view that this will deter China and would also give America time to build up its military capabilities. America’s strategy at present is to pivot 60 percent of its military assets towards Asia Pacific, however, Japan itself has now decided as its once leader Shinzo Abe has made it clear that any attack on Taiwan – Japan has the right to defend Taiwan from an aggressive China. Japan is clearly not abiding by a ‘One China Principle’. He went on to say that Taiwan emergency is a Japan emergency. If Taiwan falls, then it will be Japan next. Japan in theory is talking loud. Shinto is adamant that the prospect for China is an unwinnable war.
For Taiwan to maintain its sovereignty, it must continue to display a credible military deterrent in conventional and non-nuclear terms. Taiwan has no nuclear arms to employ against China, [whose use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is beyond the scope of this article]. The Taiwanese government cannot afford to now take for granted the peace and cooperation that they once had with China. The communist party under Xi Jinping believes in one China, and that includes Taiwan; and therefore wants to deny Taiwan’s sovereignty and isolate them from the United Nations and elsewhere. What we are beginning to see is that China has become authoritarian, crooked and one that has no respect for human rights.
Looking back, the Korean War distracted the Mainland of China from 1950 to 1953; the last dangerous time when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) contemplated an invasion in hot pursuit of the vanquished Kuomintang (KMT). By the mid-1950s, Taiwan’s position as an anti-Communist bastion placed it under American protection that the Communists had neither the means nor the will to challenge. Up to 2000, the idea of an attack on Taiwan was seen as improbable and the question discounted, as the Mainlanders still did not have the means nor the will to challenge. However, this is a different matter now.
It is important therefore, that aid recipients from Taiwan are aware of the subtle threats that are being posed to a fully democratic country. These countries are duty-bound to speak up for justice and fair play at the UN. Taiwan has the right to exist just like any other democratic state. The countries of the world cannot continue to appease China, as historical analysis has shown that appeasement leads to destruction as Hitler’s Germany.
The historical arguments being made by the PRC does not add up in terms of sovereignty over Taiwan; therefore, developed countries that have chosen to turn a blind eye to the threats and intimidation of Taiwan know full well, that China is now becoming more and more belligerent. There is always the threat of suspension of trading with countries that are not submissive to China’s will. The decisions taken by world bodies, for example, the war in Syria are negated by China and Russia for their own selfish reason.
Therefore, countries that befriend Taiwan must continually push the United Nations to seriously consider recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign state. They must also be made to understand that the two countries can live side by side as separate sovereign states with their own system of government, as have been done for over 60 years. Taiwan without a doubt is a fully-fledged democratic state, the first in Asia.
Reference to Taiwan as the first democracy in the Chinese world is not altogether disingenuous, provided that we extend the definition of Chinese to the “supranational” whereby culture, language and genetic heritage are applied in the same way as they are to the “English-speaking world,” Africa or “The West.”
Various idiosyncratic factors notwithstanding; Taiwan is a democracy with close ties to China, making its democratic development inseparable from a supranational China. Whether contemporary China is capable of democratizing, or whether Taiwan is the key to such an outcome, is yet to be seen. Nor is there any guarantee that a democratic China would abandon its sovereignty claim over Taiwan, or that it would not consider using force to achieve this objective.
With the boldness of Taiwan’s friends, China’s attempt at an invasion will surely mean world war. Can China stomach a fight when Taiwan with many other countries on its side? I doubt it, but with men like Xi Jinping, anything is possible.
However, one thing is certain, acknowledging the notion that Taiwan is the first democracy in the Chinese world does not mean one agrees that Taiwan is part of China. Only if we regard democracy as a commodity, as something that can be owned will we see existential danger in the historical connection that such an argument creates between the Taiwan and China experiment.
China must now realize that Taiwan is a vibrant economy and has cultural ties with the world and they now have a distinct Taiwan identity.
Anyone who continues to support China is an accomplice of a country that violates human rights in its own country, Hong Kong, Tibet and the Xinjiang Provinces. The alleged genocide against the Uyghur’s is unacceptable and only a paranoid dictator can sanction such a ruthless pursuit to keep power.
I say to the United Nations and other meaningful agencies of the world to wake up and smell the coffee. Recognize that Taiwan is not part of China and that it is a freely vibrant and democratic country that abides by the rule of law, freedom of information, free speech and believes strongly in doing all it can to protect the environment against global warming.
I, therefore, say aloud viva Taiwan, viva Formosa. Long live the Taiwanese people, a beautiful and helpful country to many in the world.
Related: Part 1