Taiwanese Official Says Island’s Freedom Key to Stable Indo-Pacific

August 17, 2021 8:23 PM - Updated: August 17, 2021 9:27 PM
President Tsai Ing-wen reviews a Marine Corps battalion in Kaohsiung in July 2020. Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China

Taiwan needs to remind Washington of the island’s geostrategic role in maintaining a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific, one of its top diplomats said Tuesday.

Chiu Chuicheng, deputy minister of the mainland affairs council, said President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have misjudged the resolve of the United State, United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan and Australia in “standing by international law“ and their resistance to Beijing’s “global ambitions.”

Taiwan and those democracies see “the true nature of the CCP” and Xi’s push toward one-man rule. Xi even adopted Mao Zedong’s title of “Helmsman,” and is establishing “a new totalitarian system” Chiu said. He added that all Xi’s actions are being “carried out in the name of domestic security” on the mainland.

Xi’s insistence on a China with “one voice” puts Hong Kong’s position “as a global financial hub in peril” by curbing democratic speech and organization there, Chiu said. The party is also persecuting the Muslim minority Uighurs in western China.

The party is a threat to Taiwan’s status as a democracy under a one-China policy where different approaches were supposed to be acceptable when Hong Kong reverted to Beijing’s control, Chiu said. Reunification of Beijing and Taipei seemed viable as late as 1992. He said several times Taiwan’s status as a democracy is an example of what life can be like to the rest of China, he said.

At the same time as it clamps down internally, Xi and the party “are not averse to using coercive measures against other nations” like Japan and militarizing the South China Sea in “seeking to become the global hegemon.”

Chiu said these ambitions were spelled out in Xi’s July 1 speech celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding.

Chiu said, “we will enhance our own internal security” against pressure from the mainland. Taiwan is committed to pursuing a policy of “maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait [which] is the responsibility of both sides.”

Chiu did note that in Xi’s centennial speech he did not set a timeline for reunification with Taiwan. Senior U.S. commanders have become publicly concerned about China’s buildup of its naval invasion forces, which could be used against Taiwan within a decade.

When asked about the collapse of the American- and NATO-backed government in Afghanistan, he said, “we can always hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Chiu said he would not be surprised to “see a more arrestive China” in the wake of the Taliban takeover. He added, “Taiwan never will succumb to CCP pressure” to reunify.

”We need to stand together” against Chinese ambitions, he added. “We trust the U.S. knows Taiwan’s strategic importance” militarily and as a trading partner in computer chips and high-technology manufacturing.

Chiu said negotiations between Taiwan and the mainland have been at a standstill for years over family visits and people-to-people exchanges, new trade agreements and political status.

In future reunification talks, he said Taiwan expects to be treated with “principles of parity and dignity.” On signing bilateral or multilateral trade agreements with the United States, Japan and the European Union, he said they “shall be at our own discretion” rather than first clearing the pacts with Beijing.

John Grady

John Grady

John Grady, a former managing editor of Navy Times, retired as director of communications for the Association of the United States Army. His reporting on national defense and national security has appeared on Breaking Defense, GovExec.com, NextGov.com, DefenseOne.com, Government Executive and USNI News.

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