Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday told a forum in Taipei that Taiwan’s viewpoint is more important for Asia-Pacific democracies than ever before. Giving attention to Taiwan’s perspective amid the turbulent international situation was likely a welcome message to the local audience. Taiwanese would be forgiven for wondering where their voice is among all the to-and-fro between the US, China and their respective allies on the geopolitical stage. War in the Taiwan Strait would, after all, be felt most directly and terribly in this country.
Turnbull also said that people need to “stand up for truth and call out lies for what they are.” That comment, made in the context of social media, is also applicable to international discourse driven by state actors, either explicitly in what Council on Geostrategy cofounder James Rogers has termed “discursive statecraft” — which he defines as “attempts by governments to articulate concepts, ideas and objects into new discourses to degrade existing political and ideological frameworks or generate entirely new ones” — or in the form of state-sponsored cyberattacks.
War in the Taiwan Strait could spiral out of control and become a global conflict. It is understandable that world leaders express concern in terms of the consequences for their own security.
During an interview with The Economist at the end of April, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said it is possible to “create a world order on the basis of rules that Europe, China and India could join [with the US], and that’s already a good slice of humanity. So if you look at the practicality of it, it can end well.” Kissinger followed up on that idea during an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday last week, in which he said he believed the issue of Taiwan should be left to time.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pushed back, saying that Taiwan’s future is to be decided by Taiwanese through democratic means, and that it is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) causing the tensions. There is not necessarily a contradiction between the ministry’s and Kissinger’s positions.
The CCP is certainly not sitting idly by. It had been employing discursive statecraft successfully for decades due to international compliance until the rise of “wolf warrior diplomacy,” the COVID-19 pandemic and its overreaction to then-US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August last year. Since then, there has been a massive outpouring of international solidarity with Taiwan. Through individual, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, more than 300 members of parliaments from 50 countries and the European Parliament have spoken out on behalf of Taiwan, the foreign ministry said. The US, too, has rallied allies to speak up for peace in the Strait and the Indo-Pacific region.
Time is changing the dynamics of China’s power, too. In addition to the geopolitical headwinds, it is facing economic and demographic challenges, with an aging society exacerbated by decades of the one-child policy, abandoned only in 2021. There is also the looming fallout from the massively over-leveraged real-estate sector and the internal dynamics of a distinctly innovation-suffocating centralized, communist, moralistic industrial policy, decided by a single individual to whom, so the reports say, few have the desire or the courage to show dissent or even bring bad news to.
Next year’s presidential and legislative elections will reveal much about what Taiwanese want. Opinion polls show that the majority would reject unification, but there is also a sense that many are spooked by the prospect of war, cracking under the weight of Beijing’s intimidation and the accumulated effect of its discursive statecraft.
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
During a news conference in Vietnam on Sept. 10, a reporter asked US President Joe Biden about the possibility of China invading Taiwan. Biden replied that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is too busy handling major domestic economic problems to launch an invasion of Taiwan. On Wednesday last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office published a document outlining 21 measures to make the Chinese-controlled Fujian Province into a demonstration zone for relations with Taiwan. The planned measures would expand favorable treatment for Taiwanese people and companies, and seek to attract people from Taiwan to buy property and seek employment in Fujian.
Taiwan is beautiful — no doubt about it. In Taipei, the streets are clean, the skyline is gorgeous and the subway is world-class. The coastline is easily accessible and mountains can be seen in the distance. The people are hardworking, successful and busy. Every luxury known to humankind is available and people live on their smartphones. As an American visiting for the first time, here are some things I learned about the country. First, people from Taiwan and America love freedom and democracy and have for many years. When we defeated Japan in 1945, Taiwan was freed from Japanese rule. In