In the past, countries allowed Beijing to dictate their relationship with Taiwan, under threat of economic sanctions. Gradually, free democracies are increasing their engagement with the island nation, in spite of the Chinese regime’s bullying.
Over the past few years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has become more and more belligerent, while attempting to dictate the foreign policy of other countries. An increasing number of nations, however, have been defying China’s demands, and voting their conscience, in spite of threats or reprisals from Beijing.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama in 2008, which angered the Chinese regime. Beijing hurled threats when democracy activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And the threats are not just rhetoric. China engaged in “hostage diplomacy” when it held two Canadians in isolation for 1,000 days, until Canada released Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.
Increasing relations with Taiwan has become a symbol of a country turning away from China, sending a message to the CCP that it does not get to dictate the behavior of sovereign nations.
The United States has always been Taiwan’s supporter and has increasingly been the world’s counterbalance to the Chinese regime’s aggression. The United States began increasing its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, under the Trump administration. Now, the Biden administration has strengthened the relationship, stating publicly that the United States is committed to defending Taiwan.
Meanwhile, other democracies, such as Australia, India, the Czech Republic, and the European Union, are increasingly standing up to the CCP. Even NATO has shifted its mandate to now include countering the China threat.
The logic of the past had been that no one wanted to anger China, for fear of losing investment and trade. It seems that countries are deciding that it is more important to preserve their integrity, oppose communist China’s aggression, and prevent China’s extraterritorial expansion.
A Lowy Institute poll found that Australia’s attitude toward Taiwan was turning progressively more positive. Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited Taipei, which enraged Beijing. Prime Minister Scott Morrison stood up to China, blocking several high-level purchases. He prevented China from acquiring one of Australia’s largest beef ranches, and overruled the sale of an Australian power-grid to a Chinese state-backed firm. Most recently, Morrison irked the CCP by calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
In retaliation, the CCP banned the import of Australian beef and coal, while China faces both an energy and food shortage crises. Taiwan’s response was to ask Australia to support its bid to join the CPTPP trade agreement, which Beijing vehemently opposes. Taiwan, however, has told Australian officials that it could help Australia increase its high technology and minerals trade.
The EU had generally regarded China in economic terms, steering clear of U.S. policies of containment. This past spring, however, when Beijing rebuked the EU’s condemnation of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, several European leaders put financial deals with China on hold.
Taiwan sent a delegation of more than 60 officials and businesspeople to Lithuania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic to sign new agreements. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu went to Europe for a diplomatic visit and held meetings in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The tour was related to COVID-19 vaccine donations that came from four EU countries: the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia. Taiwan signed seven Memorandums of Understanding with Slovakia.
Several EU parliamentarians also met with Wu in Brussels, including Sweden’s Charlie Weimers and Els Van Hoof, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. Additionally, Wu participated in a meeting of IPAC, a coalition of European parliamentarians critical of China, which he attended virtually. The meeting was considered particularly provocative to the CCP, because it included a former Hong Kong lawmaker, a Uyghur activist, as well as the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
In November, EU parliamentarian Raphaël Glucksmann led an EU delegation to Taipei. Glucksmann told the press that supporting Taiwan was one action that countries should take in order to contain China’s growing hegemonic ambitions.
The Upper House speaker of the Czech Republic, Milos Vystrcil, and the mayor of Prague, Zdenek Hrib, are among the high-ranking EU officials who have visited Taipei in recent years.
When the EU legislators voted in favor of trade talks with Taiwan, Beijing reacted negatively. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the decision “vile.” He then threatened Europe, saying, “Do not underestimate the Chinese people’s determination, will, and capacity to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president of the European Commission, told the EU that China’s threats toward Taiwan posed a security risk for the EU, at least in part because of the EU’s dependence on Taiwanese chips, which are essential to Europe’s digital development.
The CCP keeps telling the United States and Western nations to forget their differences and work together with Beijing. This is an overly simplistic and completely unrealistic attitude, as the grievances are not something that a handshake will solve. For example, Beijing is unlikely to change its policies in Tibet or Xinjiang, which many democratic countries have condemned.
The CCP’s agenda is to impose its will on other countries and international organizations. It also wants to to restrict freedoms in the media and academic institutions of other nations. The CCP infiltrates and influences other countries through propaganda, and takes offense when it is told to stop. In the World Trade Organization and other world bodies, Beijing demands its own set of rules, disregarding international norms, and cries foul when other members retaliate.
It seems that global opinion is finally turning against the CCP, as countries realize they may have less to lose and more to gain by standing up to the bullying. Taiwan is a key battleground for those who will not cave to Beijing. Countries are shifting their diplomatic efforts toward Taiwan, realizing that if they allow the CCP to dictate their relationship with Taiwan, then the CCP may also dictate their relationship with the United States, India, or any other sovereign nation.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.