In its cover story headline on May 1, The Economist called Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.”
The article painted a catastrophic picture of war in the Taiwan Strait and has attracted a great deal of attention in Taiwan.
Although the headline is somewhat sensationalist, it nevertheless serves as a wake-up call to Taiwanese of the old adage, reminding them that “he who desires peace, prepares for war.”
The article is also a warning to the international community in two respects: First, that if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses military force to annex Taiwan, it would have a significant effect on the global semiconductor and tech industries, and second, of the reality that Taiwan’s national security is inextricably linked to the US maintaining its status as world leader.
War anywhere in the world is a disaster. Even as the international community is in a state of anarchy, international law prohibits powerful countries to engage in foreign aggression or use nonpeaceful means to resolve disputes, including disputes over sovereignty and territory.
In the wake of two devastating world wars, the entire world strived to build a framework for long-lasting peace and restore the world economy.
Any nation that contravenes the borders of another becomes an international pariah and the common enemy of the world.
China has repeatedly signaled its intention to annex Taiwan and continues to threaten its neighbors. Beijing’s growing hegemonism needs to be checked, otherwise neighboring nations with unresolved border disputes with China, such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and India, would also be affected.
The US and other nations, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK and France, with an interest in peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region would find it difficult to stand on the sidelines.
The loose alliance of Indo-Pacific democracies must show resolve in confronting China and form a joint force to deter it from taking any rash steps.
Taiwan, a peace and freedom-loving democratic nation, adheres to the rule of law and respects human rights.
On Monday last week, the Halifax International Security Forum announced that it would award the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Taiwan’s successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic while adhering to its democratic values has won praise from many countries around the world, and the growth of its economy was among the highest in the world.
In short, there is no reason to call Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.”
If Taiwan were to be invaded by China, this would not only cause global economic carnage, it would also be a serious setback to global democratic progress.
In stark contrast, China has a history of war.
Since the founding of the CCP, Beijing has engaged in military conflicts with Japan, the US, South Korea, Russia, Vietnam and India.
In the past few years, Beijing has deployed military aircraft and ships to intimidate Taiwan, and repeatedly dispatches an aircraft carrier group to cruise through the Taiwan Strait, and the East and South China seas.
Beijing’s actions toward nations on its periphery are becoming increasingly hostile, making China’s desire to upend the rules-based international order ever more apparent.
In short, Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions demonstrate that China is indeed the most dangerous place on Earth.
Corruption is endemic among China’s ruling class, and its party-state system, steeped in bureaucratic formalism, is hedonistic and extravagant.
China under the CCP regime is “a place where there are lies everywhere,” as Beijing-born filmmaker Chloe Zhao (趙婷) has said.
Those at the apex of power are making sure that they benefit from their power, while those on the lower ranks pay lip service to their masters and wait for an opportunity to pounce.
China’s ruling class relies on maintaining complete control to stay in power: It is far more petrified of internal discontent than of external forces.
Maintaining a stable supply of funds to the CCP’s coffers is prioritized over the defense budget.
The CCP’s style of rule prompted Jack Ma (馬雲), the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, to say with a sigh: “Only a handful of China’s richest individuals have been able to retire from public life unscathed.”
Members of the public, especially journalists, must also stay vigilant to avoid making “inappropriate comments” about the party, or they risk being “disappeared” or thrown in prison.
The CCP’s ethnic cleansing of minorities in Xinjiang, and its suppression of Hong Kong’s democracy movement through the imposition of the National Security Law, has produced a “chilling effect” among the Chinese public: Everyone is in a permanent state of fear.
Under the CCP, it is Chinese who reside in the most dangerous place on Earth.
Taiwan has become a model for epidemic prevention; despite a recent uptick of COVID-19 cases, it is still the safest nation in the world during this pandemic.
However, since the most dangerous country on Earth lies across the Taiwan Strait, the nation has, of late, attracted a great deal of attention from the international community.
As Taiwan is confronted with the challenge of China’s expanding authoritarianism, it would only be able to protect itself and hold off a Chinese invasion if Taiwanese make a conscientious effort, build a genuine national identity and hold fast to universal values.
Masao Sun is a former diplomat who was stationed in the US.
Translated by Edward Jones
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