Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace.
He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public.
People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan is intended to restrict China’s “harmful passages.” It is to Taiwan’s benefit and can never be compared with China’s harassment, threats and targeted actions.
Wu’s remarks are not “an entirely personal view,” the KMT has said, but a result of confusion over the party’s core values.
After former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) term, when former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), followed by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), directed the party line, the KMT distanced itself from Taiwanese allies the US and Japan, and moved closer to China, which perceives Taiwan as an enemy. This turned the party’s past position on its head.
Taiwan has ended the “period of national mobilization for the suppression of the communist rebellion” and stopped repeating that it would “retake the mainland,” but Beijing, unhappy that Taiwan turned its back on unification following democratization, passed the “Anti-Secession” Law.
During Ma’s eight-year presidency, government support for the so-called “1992 consensus” and the idea that there is one country across the Taiwan Strait did not stop Beijing from repeatedly threatening to annex Taiwan by military force.
The Ma administration’s policy to maintain peaceful relations with China while befriending the US — placing China before the US — came under increasing scrutiny by the US and invited Chinese bullying.
Fortunately, the Sunflower movement caused a surge in public awareness, overturning Ma’s line in 2014 and 2016.
In the 2018 local elections, the KMT outperformed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at the ballot box, and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took the opportunity to propose a condensed version of the “1992 consensus,” openly promoting the “one China” principle and military provocation.
Immediately after Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections in January, the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in China, and although it was unable to care for itself, it continued its military provocation of Taiwan.
Furthermore, it kept epidemic information from Taiwan and spread false information, and even tried to spread the virus to Taiwan when Taiwanese were repatriated from China.
Peaceful relations with China were blocked by Beijing a long time ago.
The chaos surrounding the COVD-19 pandemic made it even clearer to Taiwanese that politicians talking about maintaining peaceful relations with China are suffering from Stockholm syndrome and would do anything that Beijing says.
Taiwan has long wanted a peaceful relationship with China, but China has done nothing to reciprocate: It only wants peaceful unification or military annexation.
Lee ended the period of national mobilization for the suppression of the communist rebellion and his successor, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), deregulated cross-strait exchanges. Surely this is what it means to seek peaceful relations with China, but China only wanted docile acceptance of unification. Anything else triggered accusations of being a troublemaker and destroying cross-strait relations, live-ammunition exercises, and military aircraft and ships sailing around Taiwan.
This is tantamount to saying: “You may ask for peace, but you cannot have it.”
According to the logic of the KMT faction promoting peaceful relations with China, all Taiwan has to do is surrender to China’s demands.
During his presidency, Ma kept saying that he could manage to concurrently develop cross-strait relations and Taiwan-US relations, but the speedy improvement in Taiwan-US relations after 2016 has been a slap in Ma’s face.
US President Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory telephone call from “Taiwan’s President” Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the US Congress has passed the Taiwan Travel Act and other Taiwan-friendly legislation, military sales approved by Trump have set a record, the level of official contacts is rising and amid the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, the US and Taiwan have issued a joint statement announcing a partnership “to further strengthen US-Taiwan consultation and cooperation on combating the COVID-19 virus.”
If what the Ma administration did was considered promoting friendship with the US, then current US-Taiwan relations must be absolutely extraordinary.
However, the illusion of peace brought by so-called “peaceful relations” with China was immediately shattered when the Tsai administration refused to be blackmailed by China into accepting its “one China” principle. It was all an illusion and it is now time to wake up.
During this period, Taiwan’s government and people have been busy working together to fight the pandemic, but Beijing continues to manipulate the WHO into isolating Taiwan, using the outbreak to put a China-made straitjacket on Taiwan.
As the COVID-19 chaos continues to spread around the globe, more Taiwanese are expressing relief that they did not elect a president who would have “let people in” and opened the door to the coronavirus even wider.
Beijing’s attempts to politicize the repatriation of Taiwanese who want to escape the difficult situation in China is reinforcing public support for the Tsai administration’s adherence to epidemic prevention measures and the nation’s sovereignty.
There is a clear line between friend and foe. As Beijing treats peaceful Taiwan-China relations and friendship with the US as a zero-sum game, while the KMT continues its hackneyed talk about peaceful relations with China rather than shifting toward friendly relations with the US, the KMT’s future would continue to narrow.
This year has already seen presidential and legislative elections and the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak is casting a dark shadow over global health, finance and trade. It is also likely to have an impact on sensitive geopolitical issues — the US and China crossing swords over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea being only one aspect.
Taiwan might be small, but its democratic force displayed during the elections and its epidemic prevention efforts, which have been noticed by the US and European countries, show that it is not as weak as defeatists would have it.
The US and China are both tied down by the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi only cares about his power and Trump is under re-election pressure, and both are ready for a fight.
The geopolitical situation is changing, and Taiwan cannot afford to pick the wrong side. The events of 2014, 2016 and this year make it clear that Taiwan is ready to make its choice.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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