Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Ian Easton On Taiwan: So you think China will win?

Trees growing on the Penghu Islands are often uprooted by the winds that rip across the local landscape every winter. One ancient banyan tree is considered sacred. To survive, this tree has grown horizontally, spreading its branches and roots hundreds of feet outward.

Facing extinction, Taiwan’s government has learned to be equally resilient. Abandoned by the world in the 1970s, Taiwan has been diplomatically isolated for decades. This thriving democratic country — a country that is not recognized by the UN as a country — has adapted remarkably well to its circumstances. The Taiwanese, like people everywhere, are born with an innate desire to chart their own unique course into the future.

America and Taiwan have shared values, and both benefit from their diverse and innovative populations. Yet, their national endowments are very different. The US is blessed with great tracts of rich farmland, giant freshwater lakes, powerful rivers, vast forests, and massive deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, copper, gold, and silver. Not Taiwan. Almost completely lacking in natural resources, Taiwan’s success story is a testament to the power of hard work and tenacity in the face of adversity.

This island is regularly pummeled by super typhoons, rocked by earthquakes, and hit by cyberattacks. Most concerning, Taiwan faces a growing Chinese invasion threat. Its gigantic neighbor, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), has invested heavily in a military buildup that is aimed squarely at conquering Taiwan. War could be coming.

To prepare the future battlefield, China is undermining international support for Taiwan’s legitimate government. On university campuses and in major media headquarters around the world, professors and news editors now feel the pressure to self-censor.

The US State Department has gone to great lengths to ensure that Taiwan is not treated like a real country. Most recently, Foggy Bottom has deleted Taiwan’s flag off all government websites. This is a flagrant denial of objective reality. Taiwan’s government exists. It was recognized by Washington for 30 years and did not go away just because the American embassy was closed in Taipei and the American Institute in Taiwan (an embassy in all but name) was opened.

Might does not make right. Unfortunately, some officials in Washington seem to think otherwise. Their policy choices play right into the hands of their strategic rivals. In Beijing, Chinese Communist Party officials use feckless American behavior as ammunition in their anti-Taiwan campaign. Their propaganda message is clear: “Resistance is futile. Surrender now.”

Some Taiwanese have come to believe that they lack agency and are not in control of their own fate. This loss of self-confidence is dangerous. It breeds passivity and saps morale. Taken to its logical conclusion, it can even produce defeatism. This, in turn, will convince many American observers that Taiwan is a hopeless case.

Yet, the Taiwan-doubters are wrong. The odds are that Taiwan will win its long twilight struggle with China. Here are three often overlooked reasons why:

One, Taiwan can turn to God for help — and Jesus, Allah, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Guan Yin, and Ganesh, too.

Like Americans, the Taiwanese have the right to practice any faith they so choose without any government intervention. They can practice and change their religion or belief however they see fit. This is a basic human right and public good. It makes for a more cohesive and durable society, especially in times of crisis.

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