Following China’s recall of its ambassador to Lithuania, the Baltic country said it remains committed to developing mutually beneficial relations with Taiwan. This highlights China’s diplomatic dilemma in the COVID-19 era as well as Taiwan’s diplomatic opportunities.
China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy is a sign of how Beijing’s international tactics are aimed at a domestic audience. This has shifted its diplomatic focus from the Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平)-era policy of China concealing its ambitions and biding its time, which gained international recognition and gave China an advantage, to nationalist propaganda focusing on punishing those who cross China even if they are far away.
The logic behind this shift is the search for a new legitimacy for the Chinese Communist Party’s one-party dictatorship after the slowdown of economic growth.
Only by molding Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) into the savior of the Chinese nation would the “little pinkies” — the country’s nationalist keyboard warriors — forget about the growing troubles in their lives and replace them with flag waving and slogan chants.
Such anxieties and needs have become increasingly intense amid a US-China trade dispute, supply chain restructuring and the ravages of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It was also this situation that led to a display of complete disorder in the US-China talks in Alaska.
The pandemic is another important factor affecting diplomacy. As many countries find themselves in dire circumstances with mass infections and deaths, it is only natural that China — with its poor human rights record, diplomatic misconduct, rising nationalism, constant expansionism and increasing isolation as a result of the pandemic — would become increasingly resented.
Just as Taiwan’s government encountered difficulty following a COVID-19 outbreak that started in May, many governments around the world are facing problems such as public anxiety, declining support and challenges from political opposition.
With an urgent need to establish political legitimacy, it is becoming increasingly difficult for China to accept diplomatic threats, so Beijing instead tries to strengthen its political legitimacy by sticking to its position and forcefully resisting opposition.
From the Canadian parliament’s support for the Halifax International Security Forum resolution to present the 2020 John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to several countries donating COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan; and from the revision and discussion of the phrase “Chinese Taipei” for Taiwan at the Tokyo Olympic Games to Lithuania’s insistence on developing a mutually beneficial relationship with Taipei, Taiwan is the beneficiary of other countries’ conflicts with China.
Taiwan’s recent diplomatic breakthroughs have not only been a result of its inherent strengths and the efforts of its diplomats, but the conflict between China and the rest of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has also been an important driver of these changes.
Because of China’s diplomatic failures, Taiwan has been seen, discussed and assisted by more people.
The present time has been the most difficult for Chinese diplomacy in the past 30 years. It is also a time that presents Taiwan with the best chances for making diplomatic breakthroughs.
Hsieh Wen-che is an assistant research fellow at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
Translated by Perry Svensson
Even clumsy communicators occasionally say something worth hearing. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for example. He has of late been accused of muddling his messages in support of Ukraine and much else. However, if you pay attention, he is actually trying to achieve something huge: a global — rather than “Western” — alliance of democracies against autocracies such as Russia and China. By accepting that mission, he has in effect taken the baton from US President Joe Biden, who hosted a rather underwhelming “summit for democracy” in December. That was before Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, when rallying the freedom-loving nations
Ideas matter. They especially matter in world affairs. And in communist countries, it is communist ideas, not supreme leaders’ personality traits, that matter most. That is the reality in the People’s Republic of China. All Chinese communist leaders — from Mao Zedong (毛澤東) through Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), from Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) through to Xi Jinping (習近平) — have always held two key ideas to be sacred and self-evident: first, that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is infallible, and second, that the Marxist-Leninist socialist system of governance is superior to every alternative. The ideological consistency by all CCP leaders,
In the past 30 years, globalization has given way to an international division of labor, with developing countries focusing on export manufacturing, while developed countries in Europe and the US concentrate on internationalizing service industries to drive economic growth. The competitive advantages of these countries can readily be seen in the global financial market. For example, Taiwan has attracted a lot of global interest with its technology industry. The US is the home of leading digital service companies, such as Meta Platforms (Facebook), Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft. The country holds a virtual oligopoly of the global market for consumer digital
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on Saturday expounded on her concept of replacing “unification” with China with “integration.” Lu does not she think the idea would be welcomed in its current form; rather, she wants to elicit discussion on a third way to break the current unification/independence impasse, especially given heightened concerns over China attacking Taiwan in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She has apparently formulated her ideas around the number “three.” First, she envisions cross-strait relations developing in three stages: having Beijing lay to rest the idea of unification of “one China” (一個中國); next replacing this with