American Double Standards

Taiwan: Another Ukraine in the Making?


Taiwan elections became big international news, significant as US wishes to create another Ukraine in the Far East, envisages an Asian Nato, part of its Asia Pacific Strategy. The big media, fed by the West, manufacture news about Taiwan. “Taiwan which China claims as part of its territory,” is a cliche. It hides the hard fact: out of 193 members of UN, only about 12, tiny in size and population, recognise Taiwan. The UN, which recognises even Palestine Authority, does not recognise Taiwan. None from the developed countries, neither USA nor any from Europe, nor India recognise it. Taiwan is about 200 km away from south China coast, compared to Andamans, about 1200 km away from India. It was colonised by Japan until the end of Second World War, and was liberated by China’s victory against colonialism.

Reviewing the recent January elections in Taiwan, James A Smith of University of London, a renowned historical relations analyst wrote: “The DPP is fighting a losing battle and lacks a strong mandate, as evidenced by the fact that 60 percent of the population on the island did not vote for them. Contrary to the misleading claims made by the US and the media, it is not about the issue of "democracy" and never has been. Democracy in Taiwan is dubious: Two officials from the Reunification Alliance Party have been detained a week before the polling. Political terms like "peaceful reunification," the "1992 consensus" which indicate that Taiwan and China belong to "one China" are all crimes in Taiwan, where, ironically, KMT favouring re-unification has been a ruling party for long.

The ruling party DPP is back in power but polled less votes and lost a crucial absolute majority in the parliament: DPP won 51 seats in total, 10 less than 4 years ago. The nationalist opposition KMT won 52, and TPP 8, in a House of 113. While the KMT sees the island as part of China, the DPP is in favour of an independent Taiwan. The TPP is not for confrontation.

DPP’s Lai Ching-te received 5,586,019 votes, or 40.05 % of the total, defeating Kuomintang’s Hou Yu-ih, who took 33.49 %, and Ko Wen-je of the TPP with 26.46%. Lai had a much smaller margin of victory than did outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP in 2016 and 2020 when she won by 25% points and 18.5 points, respectively. In many democracies, victory requires 50% plus seats and votes. Democracy by definition is a rule by majority. In India there is the First Past The Post System, where the rule by the minority is pictured as the people’s mandate. No party in India till date ever got a distinct majority. Only Rajiv Gandhi in1985 general election, thanks to sympathy wave post -Indira’s assassination, came close to 50% vote. The new regime in Taiwan, with minority vote, will take office only in May. That gives some time to the US, in its own election year, to fish in troubled waters of the Far East: The very next day of the results, a US delegation arrived in Taiwan, and began manipulations.

Foreign policy is not a key factor in local body elections, which however reflect relative strengths of parties: What was the position a year ago? The DPP was not very popular, even in the metros. Hsien-Ming Lin, of National Open University, Taiwan, wrote 5 Jan 2023: In the Nov 2022 Taiwanese local elections, the DPP won only five of 22 city and county mayor’s positions. The major opposition KMT won 13 mayoral positions, including the four major metros including Taipei. Together with TPP, the KMT will control the governance of 15 cities. All told, the election was an overwhelming victory for the KMT.

“The DPP’s loss of support was reflected in the low59.86% turnout,the lowest since 2008, particularly among the youth. This time the turnout was over 70 percent, and most of the youth voted TPP.” The youth are not with DPP. That is the trend of the times. The USA and the West hoped that a belligerent DPP now would emerge stronger, and a new Ukraine is in the making in the Far East. But the Jan vote belied their hopes. Apart from KMT that favours re-unification with the mainland, the TPP too wants peace and amity with mainland China. Thus forces of peace gained an upper hand.

As to advocates of “Taiwan independence”, James Smith bluntly wrote: it is a result of openly funding admittedly anti-China organisations like the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and lucratively paying right-wing politicians to visit Taiwan and make provocative statements. Figures such as Mike Pompeo, Liz Truss and Scott Morrison “have reportedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars for this purpose.”

Smith is not alone. Exposing claims of “independence”, Wu Rong-yuan, the chairman of the Labour Party of Taiwan, also a contestant, explained the situation before polls: “the economic positions of both parties (DPP and KMT) are not significantly different. Both align themselves with the US, with common ground in anti-communism, and against Beijing.” He added, “while the KMT claims that the residents of Taiwan and the mainland form one Chinese nation, separated by the sea and different ideologies, the DPP invented Taiwanese nationalism: Since they came to power 23 years ago, they managed to create a distinct Taiwanese identity out of nothing.”

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: “the Taiwan question is China's internal affair. Whatever changes take place in Taiwan, the basic fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China will not change; the Chinese government's position of upholding the one-China principle and opposing "Taiwan independence" separatism, "two Chinas" and "one China, one Taiwan" will not change; and the international community's prevailing consensus on upholding the one-China principle and the long-standing and overwhelming adherence to this principle will not change…“ Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow continued to view Taiwan as an integral part of China.

"We do not support independence," Biden said, with all its duplicity, when asked for reaction to elections. But words and deeds do not match. US Secretary Of State Anthony Blinken congratulated Lai on his victory and the people of Taiwan for "demonstrating the strength of their robust democratic system."He went on to re-state U S policy of wanting peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait." The double-tongued USA sniped at China, but frankly spoke of their own interests. "We look forward to working with Dr Lai to advance our shared interests and values, and to further our longstanding unofficial relationship, consistent with the one China policy," the US statement said. But US, in violation of its commitments, supplied arms, and made enactments in relation to Taiwan, meant to undermine China.

British Foreign Minister David Cameron congratulated the DPP. "I hope that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will renew efforts to resolve differences peacefully through constructive dialogue, without the threat or use of force or coercion." Japan’s stand was similar. Germany's Foreign Office said: "Germany has close and good relations with Taiwan in many sectors and wants to expand them within the framework of its One-China policy."The French foreign ministry called on all parties to respect the status quo and said it hoped dialogue between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would resume.

Even before the elections there was a diplomatic battle, amid scary reports. The US has been provocative, itching to create another Ukraine in the Far East. The US had floated scary reports on the eve of the polls: CIA Director William Burns alleged that Xi has directed his military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.It is admittedly a half-truth: “Now, that does not mean that he has decided to conduct an invasion in 2027, or any other year, but it is a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition,” Burns said.

Republicans and Democrats were asked to work together to deter China. Biden said that the US military would defend Taiwan if China invaded. But facts are otherwise: Xi Jinping bluntly told Biden during their recent summit in San Francisco that Beijing will reunify Taiwan with mainland China but that the timing has not yet been decided. In fact China’s policy is clear: At last year’s CPC Congress, Xi stated publicly that China would attack Taiwan militarily if it declares independence with foreign support.

Xi’s statement is backed by an economic rationale: Xi, who has set a goal of doubling the size of the Chinese economy by 2035, also said that “we must continue to pursue economic development as our central task.” Any military conflict would undermine it. Officials familiar with the conversation between Biden and Xi described him as blunt and candid, but not confrontational.

 Xi had told Biden that the “Taiwan question remains the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations.” The U S should “support China’s peaceful reunification” and that “China will realise reunification, and this is unstoppable.”China was successful in the battle for peace: After the summit, Biden reiterated: “We maintain an agreement that there is a ‘One China’ policy,” he said, adding, “That is not going to change.”There was no other way.

Dismissing scary speculation, Xi said during his Nov 2023 San Francisco visit that China was not preparing to “fight a cold war or a hot war with anyone.” But US continues open and provocative meddling in Taiwan. Hong Kong’s SCMP reported, 13 Jan, 2024: The US House of Representatives advanced three bipartisan finance bills concerning Taiwan and mainland China on Jan 12, a day before polling, to “send the Taiwanese people a strong message of solidarity and support for their democracy”.

The first Bill supports including Taiwan as a member of the IMF. The second directs regulators to exclude the China from banking organisations if the US president notifies Congress of threats to Taiwan arising from Beijing’s actions. The third requires the US Treasury to push Beijing for greater transparency in its exchange rates at the IMF. Now the bills must pass the full Democratic-controlled Senate before heading to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. It is only a beginning: “IMF membership for Taiwan would also unlock the potential for membership in other international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank,” stated a congressional report.

The US is quietly arming Taiwan to the teeth. When Biden recently signed a $80m grant to Taiwan for the purchase of US military equipment, China said it "deplores and opposes" it. Taiwan, with a population of 23m, has about 300,000 active troops, and enjoys a US nuclear umbrella.

China seeks correcting a historical injustice caused by the intervention of external powers that separated the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. The one-China principle is not about hegemony, dominance, ideology or forging alliances or blocs. It is ultimately about respecting the principle of lawful national sovereignty among states. Countries of all backgrounds and political systems respect the one-China principle. Taiwan elections cannot alter that.

[This is a revised, abridged version of an article by the author, published in, 21/01/2024.]

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Vol 56, No. 39, Mar 24 - 30, 2024