Want World Peace? Let’s Do More for Taiwan

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/07/16/want-world-peace-lets-do-more-for-taiwan/

Sometimes the world turns on the fate of small nations. So it was in 1938, when the betrayal of Czechoslovakia set the stage for World War II. So it could be for Taiwan, whose survival is of paramount importance – not just for its 23 million people, but for the strategic position of the United States and world peace.

There’s a growing understanding of this in Washington. Last week, the Pentagon announced an arms sale to Taiwan valued at up to $2.2 billion, including 250 Stinger missiles and 108 Abrams tanks to upgrade its antiquated fleet.

Taipei expressed “sincere gratitude.” Beijing protested and issued the usual dire warnings. Congress now has 30 days to object to the sale. It won’t.

In announcing the sale, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which handles contacts with foreign militaries for the U.S. Department of Defense, noted that the deal will enhance Taiwan’s “ability to meet current and future regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.” Significantly, the agency added that the island democracy is “an important force for political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”

Where would those future “regional threats” come from:  Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos? Clearly, what the Pentagon understands, but few in government will say out loud, is that the threat comes from the People’s Republic of China, which has never renounced the use of force to conquer what it calls a breakaway province.

China’s growing military prowess will enhance its ability to dominate the region and replace America as the global super-power. But the immediate threat is to Taiwan.

The 2019 Pentagon Indo-Pacific Strategy Report states:  “… the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, seeks to reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.”

It goes on to cite Taiwan (which still officially calls itself the Republic of China) 30 times and devote an entire page to the nation’s “hard-won democracy.” It concludes:  “The United States has a vital interest in upholding the rules-based international order, which includes a strong, prosperous and democratic Taiwan.”

Beijing has stockpiled more than 2,000 ballistic missiles of all ranges. If war ever comes between the two Chinas, this arsenal could be used (along with air strikes) to take out Taiwan’s air bases, radar sites, missile assets, and communications facilities. As in the Battle of Britain, these weapons could also be employed to terrorize the civilian population.

The man who could push the button is Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and effectively China’s president for life.

Xi intends to succeed where his predecessors failed, going back to Chairman Mao. Now that he no longer feels the need to disguise his ambitions, he’s increasingly candid. At a 2018 conference, he proudly proclaimed that in China:  “Government, the military, society and schools, north, south, east and West – the party leads them all.” In other words, in China, the communists can do pretty much whatever they want.

Xi’s ambitions aren’t limited to Taiwan or even East Asia. In a March 1, 2018 commentary in the Wall Street Journal, Richard McGregor noted that: “Increasingly, China is promoting its system as an alternative to Western democracy, something that was rare even five years ago. Mr. Xi now talks about the ‘China solution’ for a world facing political and financial turmoil. In place of such uncertainties, which Beijing blames on the West, Xi lauds China’s ‘wisdom’ of global governance.”

The 20th century totalitarian nightmare didn’t die with the fall of the Soviet Union or in the smoldering ruins of Berlin. Xi is picking up the torch.

The West needs to understand this. Hong Kong is the Chinese Communist model in operation. The former British crown colony was absorbed by Beijing in 1997. China offered its people a soothing lie, “One Country, Two Systems.” Hong Kong was assured that while it would officially be part of China, it would manage its own affairs.

This year, Hong Kong’s puppet legislature considered an extradition bill which would have allowed the People’s Republic to snatch anyone in Hong Kong (and even those passing through) and bundle them off to mainland China for trial, on whatever offense the regime wanted to charge him with. Like everything else in the People’s Republic, the courts are a subsidiary of the Communist Party.

The threat was so real that a series of protests have rocked Hong Kong, starting on March 31. The last was on July 1. The crowds have steadily grown from 130,000 to 550,000. The bill has been withdrawn — for the time being. But the People’s Republic is patient.

In this regard, besides being a bulwark of regional stability, Taiwan is also a model of Chinese democracy – with a vibrant two-party system and the orderly transfer of power. Beijing doesn’t like competition — another reason the People’s Republic of China would like to put the Republic of China out of business.

If Taiwan were governed by the Mainland, China could use the Republic of China’s naval and air bases to project its power southward. (It’s in the process of building a blue-water navy.) It could incorporate Taiwan’s economy, including its strong high-tech sector, into its own, which at the moment is flailing. Of the top 100 global tech leaders, 13 are Taiwanese companies.

That’s why the pending arms sale should be only the beginning of America’s support for our traditional ally. We need to push for Taiwan’s membership in international bodies and explore the possibility of a regional alliance against totalitarian expansion, including the democracies of India, Japan, Australia, the United States, and Taiwan.

If the bell ever tolls for Taiwan, the mournful sound will be heard around the world.


Don Feder, a former columnist for The Boston Herald, is a media consultant and freelance writer. He is also Director of Coalitions of the Ruth Institute.