Taiwan, whose official name is the Republic of China (ROC), has Taipei as its capital, and occupies a main island almost as large as Switzerland. It has become a country of great challenges and it continues to have a vibrant pace of life and a rate of development that rivals that of Asian nations such as South Korea, a country that is more than twice its size in population.
The dedication and effort of its 24 million inhabitants and the loyal leadership of its leaders, particularly its president, Tsai Ing-wen, who has remained in office since 2016, have enabled this small nation to maintain its sovereignty in the face of threats of invasion and constant displays of force by the Communist Party of China (CCP), which has a population 60 times larger and is only 180 kilometers away.
Once the seemingly insurmountable challenge was posed, Taiwan has wisely woven its deterrence strategy to the extent that the threat, which has so far served as a stimulus to strengthen all aspects of the country, is becoming increasingly blurred.
Likewise, the Republic of China maintains about the claims of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) governed by the CCP: “The authorities in Beijing have never exercised sovereignty over Taiwan or other islands administered by the ROC”, according to the historical review of its website.
The constant threats
It was only a few weeks ago that Taiwan denounced the “drastic measures” with which the Chinese regime said it would respond should the democratically elected Taiwanese government cross certain “red lines” regarding its independence.
This time the threatening message was issued by Beijing’s spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, Ma Xiaoguang, who said, “If separatist forces in Taiwan seeking independence provoke, exert force or even break through any red line, we will have to take drastic measures,” Ma said, according to Taiwan News on Dec. 29, 2021.
He added: “Next year, the Taiwan Strait situation will become more complex and severe,” without elaborating.
Coupling facts with intimidation, the CCP sent a Ka-28 anti-submarine helicopter to harass Taiwan on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. After causing alarm over suspicions that it was carrying weapons, Taiwanese analysts and academics Jie Zhong 揭仲 and Lin Yingyou 林 穎佑 said that the tactical importance of these devices was not so great, but Taiwan should still be vigilant.
On another occasion, a few days earlier, during the U.S.-organized Democracy Summit, Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang’s video presentation was interrupted just as she was showing a map showing Taiwan in a different color than China. According to some Reuters sources, the abrupt cut was made at the behest of the White House.
From that moment on, only the audio of Minister Tang appeared on the screen with a caption that read “Minister Audrey Tang Taiwan”, which evidences the precautions taken by the Biden administration to avoid snubbing the CCP, despite having declared itself a staunch defender of the independence of the former “Formosa”, as Taiwan is also known.
Although the U.S. recognizes only one China as a country, U.S. law prescribes providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
It should be recalled that in recent months the CCP has invaded the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) almost daily with hundreds of fighter planes, in a campaign that puts unsuspected pressure on the inhabitants and alerts the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense to reinforce its military equipment.
Likewise, the Chinese regime does not cease to intimidate countries that approach and support the Republic of China, and even sanctions and sabotages them commercially to stop them from doing so.
It was only three months ago that a former Chinese diplomat and current international relations analyst claimed that the Chinese regime would bomb the United States and Australia if they decided to ‘interfere’ with the annexation of Taiwan to China.
He was Victor Gao, who served as a translator for former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Gao said among other things: “Those who want to block unification will be doomed to failure. If Australia is going to fight alongside U.S. soldiers in China’s push for reunification between mainland China and Taiwan, then you are talking about the worst thing you could dream of: a war between China and the United States.”
Many are the resources the Chinese regime has tried to use to politically infiltrate the Taiwanese nation, even going so far as to offer money. The spokesman for a CCP propaganda outlet declared that all Taiwanese will get $700 in annual income when China and the island are unified.
As reported by Taiwan News, the spokesman’s statement not only provoked ridicule from the island’s social media community, but even Chinese netizens voiced stinging criticism.
The statement was published in an article in the CPPCC Daily, a new periodical of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Nov. 20, in the fifth issue of “Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Weekly,” titled “Why do they say Taiwan’s future lies in reunification?”
In defense of their nation
Notwithstanding all the CCP’s threatening displays of force and the constraints it has imposed internationally on Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, its president, has made it clear that she will not be intimidated by the totalitarian communist regime and, together with her allies, will defend her nation’s sovereignty.
As the island celebrated its National Day, Tsai Ing-wen vowed not to give in to China’s growing military threats: “We… will not act rashly, but there should be no illusions that the Taiwanese people will give in to pressure,” Tsai said during her speech on Sunday, October 9, in front of the presidential office in Taipei.
She added: “This is because the path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people,” RFI reported.
She also reiterated that her country is willing to do its part to contribute to the peaceful development of the region, urging China to engage in government-to-government talks, something Beijing has consistently resisted. Tsai assured that they will not bow to the demands of the Chinese communist regime:
“We will continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us,” she emphasized.
For his part, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang responded to threats from the Chinese communist regime that he believes the United States will not defend the island, as was the case with Afghanistan: “We also tell foreign forces who want to invade and grab Taiwan — don’t be deluded,” according to the Japan Times of Aug. 17, 2021.
He added: “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. 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.”
A groundswell of global support
In addition to repeated U.S. support over the decades, the European Parliament sent the first official delegation to the island on Nov. 4, consisting of seven parliamentarians from the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference and Disinformation, a strong signal of support for the Taiwanese.
For his part, this time the chairman of the delegation, Frenchman Raphael Glucksmann highlighted Taiwan as a ‘center for the fight against foreign interference and the preservation of democracy’, and rejected the idea that the communist regime could rule Taiwan in the future.
“The flourishing of your democracy is formidable and this is why we are so happy to be here,” Glucksmann said, adding, “You have shown that in this region democracy can flourish and that authoritarian regimes are not the future. In Europe, We in Europe are also confronted with interference from authoritarian regimes, and we came here to learn from you.”
On the other hand, despite the Chinese regime’s pact with WHO to exclude Taiwan from global health events in 2017, arguing that it was Chinese territory, the small nation’s performance has been so timely and proactive that it was the first to detect that the COVID-19 virus originated in China, officially warning it on Dec. 31, 2019.
Being consistent with its great development in healthcare, the quality of care for its citizens was evident when it was learned that only a few of its citizens died, and that its government hardly affected the normal rhythm of life of the society, while most countries in the world were victims of the disaster. The country has reported only 1,173 pandemic cases and 13 deaths.
In recognition of this successful performance, major industrialized countries, including the G7, endorsed Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), in the middle of last year.
“We support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in World Health Organization forums and the World Health Assembly. The international community should be able to benefit from the experience of all partners, including Taiwan’s successful contribution to the tackling of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the G-7 said in a joint statement on the matter.
Taiwan enjoys wide recognition as a free society around the world and at all levels. Personalities from different fields show their solidarity by challenging Beijing’s claims in their statements.
One of them is NBA star player Enes Freedom Kanter, who expressed his strong support for Taiwan in a video in which he emphasizes: “Taiwan is not part of China. Taiwan is a democratic and free country”.
In his campaign of solidarity with the victims of extreme abuses caused by the CCP, he also advocates for the freedom of Tibet, Hong Kong, the Uyghurs, and Falun Dafa practitioners. Kanter’s human rights advocacy, for which he has become a standard-bearer, elicited an abundance of comments and praise from netizens.
“Mr. Enes Kanter is genuinely born with a mind of justice against injustice, a heart of kindness against cruelty, a courage to speak out and act, without being cowardly in not doing so. He is a gentleman of genuine purity, a role model of every human,” wrote Twitter account user @Yoshimu51295524.
Meanwhile, account holder @James54008 thanked Kanter: “Thank you, Enes for taking such a powerful stand in support of Taiwan. You are so brave! You are amazing! We in Taiwan look forward to your visit. All of us Taiwanese would love to see you, too.”
The Chinese communist regime claims Taiwan as its own territory, despite the fact that Taiwan democratically elects its own government.In recent years, the CCP has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure to assert its claimed sovereignty, fueling anger in Taipei and concern in Washington and other countries.
While for millennia this island territory was home to Malayo-Polynesian peoples, after 1630 English and Dutch incursions into the trade of the Portuguese-Spanish empire only increased. In Asia, they gained a foothold in the trade between China and Japan, taking in 1641 the island then called Formosa (meaning ‘Beautiful’).
But in 1662, Chinese subjects loyal to the rulers of the Ming dynasty under the command of Zheng Cheng-gong, or Koxinga, expelled the Dutch from Taiwan and settled in their territory.
For their part, the military forces of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) took control of the coastal areas of western and northern Taiwan, declaring the whole island their province in 1885.
However, when defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), the Qing government signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, by which it ceded sovereignty over Taiwan to Japan, which ruled it until 1945 when it surrendered at the end of World War II.
At the same time, between 1911 and 1912 Chinese revolutionaries overthrew the Qing Empire, which ruled the mainland, and founded the Republic of China (ROC).
As early as 1943, the ROC gained international sovereignty over Taiwan: “During World War II, the leader of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, meets with US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Cairo”.
After the conclusion of the conference, the Cairo Declaration is made public, stating that ‘… Formosa [Taiwan], and the Pescadores [the Penghu Islands], will be returned to the Republic of China…'”, the official Taiwan website reports.
It adds: “The Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the United States jointly issue the Potsdam Declaration, calling for the unconditional surrender of Japan and the fulfillment of the Cairo Declaration”, i.e. the transfer of the Taiwanese territory to the ROC. Then, 1.2 million people from China took up residence in Taiwan.
Given these circumstances: “The government of the Republic of China moved to Taiwan in 1949 while fighting a civil war with the Chinese Communist Party,” states the Taiwanese government.
It adds, “Since then, the Republic of China has continued to exercise effective jurisdiction over the main island of Taiwan and a number of outlying islands, leaving Taiwan and China under the rule of a different government. The Beijing authorities have never exercised sovereignty over Taiwan or other islands administered by the Republic of China.”
It should be recalled that, in 1951, 48 allied nations signed on behalf of the United Nations the San Francisco Peace Treaty, by which the Republic of China and Japan agreed to peace. In the same document, Japan renounced all right, title and claims to Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores), as well as the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
Despite the above-mentioned background, in 1971 the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 2758 recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC), newly admitted to the organization, as the sole legitimate representative of China.
In opting for this decision, consideration was given to the fact that the majority of Chinese lived on the mainland, and that the ROC was not in a position to regain its dominance. The situation could change drastically if the CCP disappeared.
This would strip the ROC of the representation it had held for 26 years, and it would lose its place at the UN after being one of the founding countries. Nevertheless, 14 countries maintain diplomatic relations with this country and several international organizations include it in their multilateral treaties, despite the opposition of the CCP.
Some 59 countries (plus the European Union, Hong Kong and Macau) have established unofficial diplomatic relations with Taiwan/RoC, including the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Taiwan and its importance to the world
It should be noted that in only five or six decades Taiwan became a developed country, emulating the most advanced countries in Asia such as South Korea, gaining international recognition for its important contributions to the industrialization of other nations.
It is not for nothing that the Heritage Foundation ranked Taiwan as the sixth-freest economy in the world this year. This ranking is corroborated by the Freedom House Freedom Index 2021, and the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.
Today, Taiwan manufactures most of the world’s most advanced semiconductor chips needed to build smart devices and machinery, from cell phones to cars to fighter jets.
In fact, Taiwan and the United States share a mutual interest in chip manufacturing. While the U.S. specializes in chip design, Taiwan has one of the largest microprocessor factories, TSMC, where chip testing also takes place.
In addition to Taiwan being a major U.S. trading ally, the U.S. market relies heavily on the chip production it obtains from the island, which has a significant bearing on efforts to ensure that production of these scarce supplies is not halted, and that it must be vigorously defended.
Taiwan’s importance in this field is such that the CCP infiltrates its industry and steals its industrial secrets, so it was necessary to tighten the respective legislation to limit this crime.
“Infiltration in Taiwan’s industries from the red supply chain is getting more and more severe in recent years,” said Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang, referring to Chinese technology suppliers.
He added: “They poached our nation’s high-tech talents and stole the nation’s core and key technologies.”
As further evidence of the country’s industrial and technological development, Taiwan launched Formosat-5, the first domestically manufactured ultra-high-resolution Earth observation satellite, in 2017.
No less important than its industrial development is the preservation of cultural values and individual freedoms guaranteed in Taiwan, such as democracy and religious freedom.
Overall, democracy is at its lowest position since 2006. According to the Democracy Index report for 2021 less than half of the world is democratic.
Also, although the religious aspect of a nation often goes unnoticed, it is significant that according to 2005 statistics 82% of Taiwanese have declared their affiliation to one of the faiths practiced in the country.
These include: “Buddhist 35.3%, Taoist 33.2%, Christian 3.9%, folk religion (includes Confucian) approximately 10%, none or unspecified 18.2% (2005 est.)”.
In this way, Taiwan has earned a special protection from many countries of the world, thanks to a clear, clean and hard-working strategy that allows it to augur a long existence in the concert of nations, and even, if the circumstances were propitious, to recover its place before the UN, becoming the only democratic system that guides the destinies of the millenary Chinese nation.