Taiwanese politicians widely hailed a headline and graphic on the cover of the May 1, 2021 issue of The Economist portraying the Democratic Island as “the most dangerous place on Earth”.
The chart shows Taiwan, whose 24 million people are constantly denied representation in global organizations at the insistence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in the sights of an airplane or a missile.
The image refers to growing military rhetoric and incursions by Beijing, which has never controlled the island but refuses to back down from the threat of annexing it by force.
Chairman of Taiwan’s ruling 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.”
“As Taiwan faces a real threat from China, I want to assure everyone that our government is fully capable of managing all potential risks and protecting our country from harm,” Tsai wrote in a response posted to his post. Facebook page.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said her government welcomed growing international concern about Chinese aggression and “coercive behavior” toward Taiwan.
“The danger mentioned in the article comes from China and does not only affect the Taiwan Strait,” Ou said. “China has bullied its neighbors and pursued expansionary policies across the East China Sea, South China Sea and Southeast Asia.”
DPP Deputy Wang Ting-yu said the article showed that the biggest threat to Taiwan’s security and prosperity comes from China.
“In the face of this threat from China, a rebalancing of ties with the United States and checks and balances [on Chinese aggression] of 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”
Chao Chun-shan, a political scientist at Tamkang University, said China had yet to show any indication that it was fully committed to using force.
“I don’t think military force would be the first option for China because they still feel they can achieve the same result without it,” Chao said. “But once they have made up their mind, 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 alter 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 change to the status quo,” he said. he declared.
Sullivan’s comments came after Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Taiwan appeared to be “hardening” toward independence in the face of growing threats and escalating violence. China’s rhetoric.
“I would say that already Taiwan is hardening, to some extent, towards independence as they look, basically, at what happened in Hong Kong, and I think that’s a growing challenge,” he said. Haines in testimony before the committee on April 29.
But she said any attempt to disambiguate whether Washington would come to Taiwan’s military aid would likely be destabilizing.
Such a move would “reinforce Chinese perceptions that the United States is determined to limit China’s rise, including through military force,” Haines told the committee.
Unaware of threat
On the streets of Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, a resident named Lin said people weren’t worried enough about the threat of a Chinese invasion.
“I think [the article] is right, but the biggest problem is that Taiwanese people are oblivious to this,” Lin said. “So many international figures and strategists are trying to warn Taiwanese, and yet we continue to eat, drink and have fun.
A young woman, also surnamed 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 serious happened in Taiwan, it would create a global catastrophe,” she said.
Kuomintang Congress aide Hsu Chien-hung and others recently co-wrote an opinion piece in The diplomatcalling on the United States not to abandon its strategic ambiguity on Taiwan.
“Beijing does not know where [Washington] will jump, if they would send in the troops, so that makes them cautious because they don’t know where the US has drawn the line,” Hsu told RFA.
Reported by Jane Tang and Hsia Hsiao-hwa for the RFA Mandarin Service, and by Chung Kuang-cheng for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.