Taiwan responds to magazine cover describing it as a target
Taiwanese politicians widely praised a headline and graphic on the cover of the May 1, 2021 issue of The Economist describing the democratic island as “the most dangerous place on Earth”.
The graph shows Taiwan, whose 24 million people are systematically denied representation in world organizations at the insistence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), through the target sights of a plane or missile.
The image refers to growing military rhetoric and incursions by Beijing, which has never controlled the island, yet refuses to give up the threat of force to annex it.
President of the ruling Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen said the article “highlights the threat that China’s military expansion poses to the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas.” .
“Although Taiwan faces a real threat from China, I want to assure everyone that our government is fully capable of handling all potential risks and protecting our country from danger,” Tsai wrote in a response posted on his Facebook page.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said her government welcomed growing international concern over Chinese aggression and “coercive behavior” towards Taiwan.
“The danger mentioned in the article is from China and not just affecting the Taiwan Strait,” Ou said. “China has intimidated its neighbors and pursued expansionist policies in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and Southeast Asia.
DPP lawmaker Wang Ting-yu said the article showed that the greatest threat to Taiwan’s security and prosperity came from China.
“Faced with this Chinese threat, a rebalancing of ties with the United States and of the checks and balances [on Chinese aggression] from the United States will put people at ease, ”he said.
“[It will] also ensure that international investors can place their money here with confidence. “
“Not the first option”
However, Tamkang University political scientist Chao Chun-shan said China has yet to show any indication that it is fully committed to using force.
“I don’t think military force would be the first option for China because they still think they can achieve the same result without it,” Chao said. “But once they make their decision, they will stop at nothing.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reaffirmed US policy on April 30 that Washington opposes any unilateral action that would change the status quo in Taiwan.
“This is how we will continue to approach the Taiwan question in the future, with firmness, clarity and determination regarding our view that there should be no unilateral changes to the status quo,” he said. he declared.
Sullivan’s comments came after National Intelligence Director Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Taiwan appears to be “hardening” toward independence in the face of growing threats and growing rhetoric from China.
“I would say Taiwan is already hardening, to some extent, towards independence as they basically observe what happened in Hong Kong, and I think that’s a growing challenge,” Haines said during testimony before the committee on April 29.
But she said any attempt to dispel the ambiguity as to whether Washington would come to Taiwan’s military aid would likely be unsettling.
Such a move “would reinforce Chinese perceptions that the United States is determined to limit China’s rise to power, including through military force,” Haines told the committee.
Insensitive to the threat
On the streets of Taiwan’s capital Taipei, a resident named Lin said people were not worried enough about the threat of a Chinese invasion.
“I think [the article] is right, but the biggest problem is that the Taiwanese don’t realize it, ”Lin said. “So many international figures and strategists are trying to warn the Taiwanese, and yet we continue to eat, drink and have fun.
A younger woman, also known as Lin, said Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) is considered so crucial to global high-tech supply chains that it will effectively protect the island from invasion.
“If something bad happened to Taiwan, it would create a global catastrophe,” she said.
Kuomintang Congress Assistant Hsu Chien-hung and others recently co-wrote an opinion piece in The diplomat, calling on the United States not to abandon its strategic ambiguity over Taiwan.
“Beijing does not know in which direction [Washington] will jump, if they send troops, so that makes them cautious because they don’t know where the United States drew the line, ”Hsu told RFA.
Reported by Jane Tang and Hsia Hsiao-hwa for Mandarin service in RFA, and by Chung Kuang-cheng for Cantonese service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.