Let me take this opportunity to wish my good friends in Taiwan who have been of immense help to Saint Lucia and myself in the high level of education. Special thanks to former ambassador Tom Chou, Charles lee, ambassador Ray Mou and many others such as foreign minister Joseph Wu who was the first to invite me to his office at the Institute of International Research Institute – National Chenghi University. I am immensely grateful to you all. I, therefore, wish the whole of Taiwan and you dear friends a happy and pleasant New Year and God bless. I pray and hope that 2021, the world will see the light and acknowledged you as a bastion of democracy.
By Denys Springer
Significant as the rest of the world is grappling with coronavirus, Taiwan has impeccably managed the pandemic even as the World Health Organization (WHO) seems somewhat fuddled by such a tenacious virus. Taiwan is back to normal, whereas in China no one knows what is going on as the fiddle figures on the level of the virus and even deaths, that have now been found to have been four to five times the amount recorded. Recently, China jailed the scientist who raised the alarm of COVID-19 that ensued death and destruction worldwide.
I was struck by an article in the Taiwan Review July/August 2020 taken from a speech by president of Taiwan Tsai Ing-gen, that categorically enthused, “Taiwan is emerging from the dark shadow of COVID-19 in solid shape. This is not due to luck or happenstance”.
President Tsai Ing-gen highlighted the architects from the different ministries that made it happen but also pointed out that “so too the people of Taiwan, their calmness, commitment and courage in the face of a disease first exported from the Chinese city of Wuhan”. It is at this juncture that I want to update Taiwan that China is now propagating the story that the virus came to Wuhan through imported meats more so Salmon.
China tends to forget that the virus is a cousin to SARS. What has angered me with China is that when Taiwan and the United Nations (UN) wanted to get information on the virus they were denied any consultation, and there was a lockdown in Wuhan for nearly 70 days. China did not give the exact number of deaths or disease-ridden people. The WHO was seemingly not aggressive to the extent that when Taiwan needed information they were rather ‘dogmatic and ignorant’ towards Taiwan for reasons reportedly, of China’s influence in the institution.
The rejection by WHO to give Taiwan timely information considering the distance between the two countries is just over 100 miles. Here was the same Chinese leader who meeting with ex-president Ma in Singapore, highlighted to the whole world about being brothers and sisters across the Taiwan Straits and even went on to emphasize the false idea that they are “One China” with different interpretations and the 1992 Consensus that never was. Xi Jinping rhetoric then was simply an attempt at ‘dishonesty and blatantly hypocritical’ when a virus that had the potential to cause death and destruction all over the world with at least over 300,000 deaths now in America with figures spiralling around the world.
Xi Jinping’s rhetoric to the practicality of president Tsai Ing-wen is exemplified in her second inaugural address. I was touched by every word she conveyed to the crowd when she espoused that “the Taiwanese people have the kindest hearts in the entire world, and we will always offer help to the international community whenever we are able”. This, in my estimation that is what Taiwan is about. They ask for very little in return for the help they give to countries like Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, diplomatic allies and others worldwide. Only that, these countries give recognition to their 23 million people.
Unlike China, who is all about what they acquire or gain even to the extent of seizing countries assets who default on their loans ( seize sea-ports etc.,) that is of benefit to them strategically. We must never succumb to that dishonesty and hypocrisy.
This is made clearer with Hong Kong ‘handover’ to China. A 50-year agreement that concluded within 20-years. The argument is that it is an internal affair. Currently, the Five Eyes countries have concerns at mass arrests in Hong Kong.
Beijing has been angered by increased US support for Taiwan including arms sales and visits to Taipei by senior US officials’ further straining already poor Sino-US ties. China considers democratically run Taiwan one of its provinces and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Beijing’s control.
Xi Jinping had the audacity to say openly that Taiwan is China’s internal affair. This was reemphasized by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wane Wenbin, said: “We firmly oppose interference in China’s internal affairs by any country or anyone by any means”. That is what China would like the world to think or to threaten other countries with the lies and dishonest act as Hong Kong is a classical example of pernicious China. We also see that aggressive attitude in their policies in Xinjiang where we see mass detention and surveillance of Uyghur’s and other Muslim minorities. Tibet is another classical example of the state power on the population.
As a West Indian – and a Saint Lucian, my one wish would be that Caribbean countries speak with one voice on our diplomatic relations with Taiwan, by recognizing a democratic state that is not part and parcel of China or a province of China in any shape or form. Caribbean governments must be cognizant of Taiwan’s history and our history, more so one that was colonial. It is important to note that China never had command of the whole of Taiwan at any stage of its history. The Qing dynasty tried but failed and was quick to hand over their part of Taiwan in a treaty to the Japanese in 1895.
Japan held it until the end of the Second World War and it was handed over to Chiang Kai-chez as a caretaker by the Americans until 1953 when it was finalized at the San Francisco accord and the formal handing over by Japan took place. The Japanese did not rule the whole of Taiwan country until 1933 when they took control by defeating the Head Hunters (“Austronesian” who were the Mountainous aboriginal people) the indigenous people of Taiwan.
President Tsai Ing-gen in her speech made it clear: “My fellow citizens over the past 70 years the ROC (Taiwan) has grown more resilient and unified through countless challenges. We have resisted the pressure of aggression and annexation. We have made the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Although we were once isolated in the world we have always persisted in the values of democracy and freedom no matter the challenges to our common belief. Taiwan must help ourselves to help others and when we help ourselves, others will help us.”
In any discussion on Taiwan, it must never be forgotten that this is an ethnically diverse society. The indigenous people have long been active and have an indomitable strength of being Taiwanese.
In terms of diplomatic relations between the PRC Taiwan (ROC), I am of the view that each country has the right to choose their friends. I encourage CARICOM/OECS Member countries to align themselves with a true friend Taiwan. On Saturday, January 9, 2021, US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo said he was lifting self-imposed restrictions on the US -Taiwan relationship.
Long live Taiwan, Ilha Formosa the beautiful island. I have aligned with because of its unselfishness and humanity.