China’s leaders got a little irritated at me the last time I visited Taiwan. Beijing flew 40 fighter jets over Taiwan’s airspace and declared me an enemy of the state. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apparatchiks harassed the journalists covering the trip and writing about the Clean Network’s defeat of their 5G master plan through the deployment of the “Trust Doctrine.”
Now, China’s totalitarian twin and closest military and economic ally, Russia, is rewriting history, claiming non-NATO Ukraine is part of Mother Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging an unprovoked and bloody invasion, and has brazenly declared that any military intervention to help Ukraine would be a direct attack on Russia that justifies nuclear retaliation. Literally.
Most Americans were taken aback by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but we should have known better. We should have paid attention to Putin’s attempt to assert historical “legitimacy” as a prelude to his attack, which has led more than 300 corporations to frantically leave Russia.
Putin’s road map toward war is instructive as we look at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) attempt to rewrite history to rationalize a potential takeover of democratic Taiwan.
For the past 40 years, the CCP has been arm-twisting governments and international organizations into supporting its assertion that Taiwan has always been part of China under the “one country, two systems” rubric. The truth is Beijing destroyed that dubious idea when it absorbed Hong Kong in 2020. America’s policy insists that the question of Taiwan be resolved through dialogue — without coercion or use of force. Since Beijing has demonstrated that it’s not willing to uphold its side of the bargain, the bargain no longer exists.
The Russia-China partnership lays bare the common threads connecting the two authoritarian regimes. Both governments are revolutionary relics employing lawlessness, duplicity, bullying, domestic oppression, thought control, coercive economic practices and grave human rights abuses. It was only a matter of time before these “totalitarian twins” formed a partnership.
On Feb. 4, the two countries signed a mutual love letter declaring their “friendship has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”
Ominously, the letter also stated that Russia “confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.”
Twenty days later, Russia invaded Ukraine, which may be a signal of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan.
To the free world, a peaceful Taiwan is a lynchpin of democracy and an oasis of freedom. To China’s Emperor Xi, an independent Taiwan dispels the CCP’s myth that democracy is incompatible with Chinese culture. Additionally, Xi lusts after Taiwan’s semiconductor business, which he sees as the key to achieving global dominance.
China’s takeover of Taiwan would be catastrophic for US national security. It would also be devastating for most companies due to Taiwan’s dominant position in semiconductor manufacturing. After their jarring experience in the Russia-Ukraine war, corporate boards now recognize the real probability of a Chinese attack on Taiwan — which China has refused to rule out — and the outsized risk that continuing to do business with, in or for China represents.
That’s why many respected board members around the world are demanding a China contingency plan from their CEOs. They realize that the exposure of doing business with China is 10 to 20 times that of Russia, and preparing with significant China risk mitigation plans is not a drill.
The US and our allies must learn the lessons of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and step up to help preserve Taiwan’s freedom — before it is too late.
The US should recognize Taiwan for what it truly is: a free, sovereign and independent democratic nation. Taiwan is not part of the People’s Republic of China, and just like the US “unrecognized” Taiwan as a country, we can lead the free world in recognizing it.
There is strength in numbers and power in unity and solidarity. Ukrainian courage has served as a rallying cry that is beginning to unify democracies in an unprecedented way.
Now is the time to seize that momentum against authoritarianism, and build a coalition of freedom-loving nations, companies and civil society partners to officially recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.
As we all learned in the schoolyard, when you stand up to bullies, they back down, especially when you have your friends by your side.
Keith Krach was unanimously confirmed as US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment. His tenure ended last year and he is now the chairman of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy. He served as chairman and CEO of DocuSign and Ariba, and chairman of the Purdue Board of Trustees. Krach was nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
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