Taiwan would not collapse like Afghanistan in the event of an attack, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday, offering an indirect warning to China not to be “deluded” into thinking it could take Taiwan.
China has been ramping up military and diplomatic pressure to force Taipei into accepting Chinese sovereignty, causing concern in Washington and other Western capitals.
The defeat of the Afghan government after the withdrawal of US forces and flight of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has sparked discussion in Taiwan about what would happen in the event of a Chinese invasion, and whether the US would help defend Taiwan.
Asked whether the president or premier would flee if “the enemy was at the gates” like in Afghanistan, Su said people had feared neither arrest nor death when Taiwan was a dictatorship under martial law.
“Today, there are powerful countries that want to swallow up Taiwan using force, and likewise we are also not afraid of being killed or imprisoned,” he said. “We must guard this country and this land, and not be like certain people who always talk up the enemy’s prestige and talk down our resolve.”
What happened in Afghanistan showed that if a country is in internal chaos, no outside help would make a difference, and Taiwanese have to believe in their land and that they can defend it, Su added.
Everyone working together to rapidly bring under control a recent domestic spike in COVID-19 infections showed what can be achieved when Taiwan is united, he said.
“We also tell foreign forces who want to invade and grab Taiwan — don’t be deluded,” Su added, apparently referring to China.
In related news, Taiwan’s two largest airlines yesterday said that flights to and from Europe would circumvent the airspace in Afghanistan.
China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) said that all cargo and passenger flights to and from Europe would fly through Siberia or other alternative routes after bypassing the airspace in Afghanistan.
EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) said it would enforce the same air safety policy, which would affect all of its flights to and from Amsterdam, London, Vienna and Paris.
Airlines in recent years have bypassed airspace above war zones and politically unstable nations following a couple of major aviation incidents.
On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a ground-to-air missile while flying over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people aboard.
On Jan. 8 last year, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 from Tehran to Kiev was hit by two missiles fired by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 167 passengers and eight crew members died.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
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