Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen should be lauded for her courage to take on the dragon that threatens to gobble up her country. In a speech today celebrating Taiwan’s National Day, she pledged to modernize her nation’s defence capabilities to “deal with military expansion and provocation from the other side of the Taiwan Strait.” Rarely in the past has such a small nation exhibited such resolve and valor against a major, malevolent global power.
“As long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations, while parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” Tsai said.
But she knows, as everybody else does, that China doesn’t believe in maintaining “parity and dignity” with anybody else in the world. In a country where jingoism has blended with communism, those who call the shots in Beijing believe that there are only kinds of people in the world—the civilized and barbarians, the former being Han Chinese and the latter the rest of the peoples.
The natural corollary is: the Chinese, led by the Chinese Communist Party, have the divine right to rule the world; anybody challenging this right ought to squashed, especially recalcitrant Taiwanese. President Tsai and her political allies are among the challengers. Hence China’s increasing belligerence against the tiny island nation.
Tsai and others who champion the cause of Taiwanese sovereignty are especially galling for Beijing, for the CCP bosses regard Taiwan as its province. This is not the first time that the politicians favoring the formal separation of Taiwan from China. Former president Chen Shui-bian, who won the election in 2000, his country’s “independence.”
Chen re-election in in 2004 further incensed China. It responded using the only tool it deploys dealing with political opposition: repression. Beijing brought in an anti-secession law the next year and threatened to use “non-peaceful means” if need be.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou, who won the election in 2008, was more accommodative to China, striving to improve ties with the dragon, especially economic relations.
However, President Tsai, who won the 2016 poll, is all for Taiwanese independence. China itself gave a boost to her agenda: continued repression in Hong Kong made more Taiwanese people favor independence of their country. Tsai again won the election this year.
In the National Day speech, she made her intentions clear without sounding bellicose or unreasonable: “Maintaining stability in cross-strait relations is in the best interests of both sides. We are committed to upholding cross-strait stability, but this is not something Taiwan can shoulder alone; it is the joint responsibility of both sides.”
Thankfully, the Donald Trump administration backs Tsai, much to the chagrin of Xi Jinping’s China which bristles at the bonhomie, calling it “collusion.” More importantly, the US supports Taiwan militarily.
The American security shield, however, is subject to the political vicissitudes in domestic politics; the Democrats may not be as stout in their defence of Taiwan as the Republicans are.
Therefore, India must take a lead and form a regional security alliance involving Japan, Australia, and other democratic nations. A beginning has to be made in this regard: One China policy should be discarded at once.