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Taiwan a mere chess piece in US' power game

By Zhong Houtao | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-09 07:45


By inviting the leader of China's Taiwan region to attend the "Summit for Democracy" on Thursday and Friday, the United States has seriously violated the one-China principle and three China-US joint communiques.

But why has US President Joe Biden invited Tsai Ing-wen to the meeting? Is Taiwan a beacon of democracy?

In March 2008, then US president George W. Bush praised Taiwan as "a beacon of democracy to Asia and the world", and said the election on the island and the democratic process it represented will advance Taiwan as a prosperous, secure and well-governed society.

But Taiwan is not prosperous. Its economy has been floundering. In the 1990s, Taiwan ranked first among the "Four Asian Tigers" which also included the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. But Taiwan now trails the other three economies, with its nominal per capita GDP being $33,402, compared with the ROK's $35,196, Hong Kong's $49,485 and Singapore's $66,263.

Nor is Taiwan a secure society, as it has seen frequent incidents of violence in recent years. The Taiwan authorities have also been struggling to deal with the high unemployment rate among youths-which has hit 12.3 percent, meaning more than one in 10 youths on the island is unemployed.

But instead of seriously addressing the unemployment issue, the island authorities established a "Taiwan Endowment for Democracy" to provide monetary help for the Hong Kong protesters and encourage them to foment trouble.

In November 2020, the island authorities revoked the broadcasting license of a cable news channel run by Chung T'ien Television just because it criticized Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party and supported Kuomintang politician Han Kuo-yu, who led the opposition party to victory in the 2018 local elections on the island and was elected Kaohsiung's mayor.

It was the first news channel whose license was cancelled this way since 2000. The cancellation of Chung T'ien Television is an anti-democratic move, which goes against Tsai's pledge to protect the freedom of speech.

A democracy's responsibility is to protect people's rights and interests-to ensure their needs are met and they enjoy the right to free speech. A society in which people are denied the right to free speech cannot be a democratic society.

In 2014, Taiwan witnessed the "Sunflower Student Movement". Hordes of students and other protesters climbed over the fence of the legislature complex and occupied the legislative chamber for more than one month, not only damaging the legislative chamber but also dealing a blow to democracy. For this reason, the "Sunflower Student Movement" is called "the shame of democracy in Taiwan".

But after coming to power in 2016, the DPP released those violent protesters. Worse, it invited some leading thugs, including Lin Fei-fan, to join the party. In fact, Lin became the DPP's deputy secretary-general. What could be more absurd than a thug becoming a leader of the DPP?

The US has for long been using the "Taiwan card" to contain the Chinese mainland. Continuing with this policy, the Joe Biden administration has been making many provocative moves on the Taiwan question and interfering in the internal affairs of China.

For example, in August, the Biden administration approved an arms sale worth $750 million to Taiwan, which encouraged the "pro-independence forces" on the island and the DPP to take more risky actions and further damage cross-Straits ties and raise the already high tensions between Beijing and Washington.

And in October, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged countries to support Taiwan's participation in the United Nations. To make matters worse, Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if Beijing attempted to reunify the island with the motherland.

By inviting the island to its "democracy" meeting, the US is again using the island in its power games. This Cold War mentality will only raise tensions across the Taiwan Straits and worsen the situation in the region.

All these show the US has become "addicted" to playing the "Taiwan card" to contain the mainland.

The Taiwan question is the most important and the most sensitive issue in Sino-US relations. The mainland has never changed its stance of realizing peaceful reunification with Taiwan, including by using force if no peaceful options are left. The mainland will never allow any person, any organization or any political party to split any part of the Chinese nation.

Therefore, any attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs or any country trying to challenge it is doomed to failure.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.




The author is a research associate at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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