The World Re-Embraces Taiwan

November 4, 2021 Updated: November 6, 2021

Commentary

The international community seems to re-embrace democratic Taiwan, while distancing from communist China, in the context of 50 years after the former was expelled from the United Nations and its seat was given to the latter.

On Oct. 26, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged U.N. member states to support Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in the U.N. system.

On the same day, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed with CNN the presence of U.S. troops on the island, though she refrained from using the word “stationed.”

These incidents marked a partial return to Taiwan’s situation more than 50 years ago, before it was kicked out of the U.N.

In 1945, Taiwan, under the name of the Republic of China (ROC), became a member of the U.N. as well as its main decision-making body, the Security Council. The United States was obligated to station troops in the island under a joint defense treaty between Washington and Taipei.

On Oct. 25, 1971, the U.N. General Assembly voted to expel the ROC and gave the seat to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Then in 1979, the United States severed its relations with the ROC, and switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC. At the same time, it ended the two-decade long defense treaty with the ROC.

So for the last 50 years, Taiwan suffered not only from severe diplomatic isolation, but also from constant military threats from the Chinese regime. The CCP considers Taiwan to be part of mainland China and vows to seize it by force, if necessary.

Half a century later, the trend and international mood is changing in exactly the opposite direction.

The ROC, thanks to its former leader Chiang Kai-shek’s dictum to “uphold self-confidence and self-strengthening,” had survived the doomsday nightmare of international isolation and military threats. His son and successor, Chiang Ching-kuo, transformed the country from an authoritarian regime to a modern democratic state, without shedding a drop of blood.

This strong leadership, coupled with a robust economy that holds a pivotal position in the world’s supply chain, especially in chips manufacturing, had won Taiwan renewed international respect and support.

Epoch Times Photo
Circa 1943: Chinese statesman and nationalist General Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) took part in the revolution of 1911 that overthrew the Qing Dynasty of the Manchus. His regime enjoyed American support until his death, when his son Chiang Ching-kuo became president. (Keystone/Getty Images)

On the contrary, the Chinese regime had demonstrated its true totalitarian nature. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), the regime is supposed to uphold the most important principle of the U.N.—the safeguarding of human rights. Yet it is the only UNSC member that did not endorse the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Among the 193 U.N. member states, only 23 totalitarian ones did not accede to that instrument, and China is one of them.

Thus, the world has witnessed Beijing’s human rights abuses, including the suppression of political dissidents, like Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo who allegedly sabotaged state security, rounding up of millions of Uyghurs in the name of anti-terrorism, persecution of the Falun Gong adherents for their belief, and the bloody slaughter of peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen in 1989. All these are blatant violations of the U.N. principle.

The international community is also alarmed by the CCP’s behavior abroad such as using hostage diplomacy in bringing Canada to its knees, and militarily fortifying the islands in the South China Sea, which is an obvious violation of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The world is starting to see that Taiwan is a “valued partner and trusted friend,” as Blinken puts it, while the Chinese regime is a threat.

In a bid to improve diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the United States lifted the ban on U.S. officials visiting the island. In April, Washington issued the “New Guidelines for U.S. Government Interactions with Taiwan Counterparts,” which eases restrictions on the interaction between U.S. and Taiwan officials.

In September, the United States considered giving the green light to Taiwan to change the name of its representative office in Washington to include the word “Taiwan,” which implied some measure of diplomatic recognition.

The European Union (EU) followed suit. On Oct. 21, the European Parliament adopted the “EU-Taiwan Political Relations and Cooperation” report by an overwhelming majority (with 580 in favor, 26 not in favor, and 66 abstentions). Among its many proposals to strengthen ties with Taiwan, it called for the name of the European Economic and Trade Office in Taipei to be changed to “European Union Office in Taiwan,” which would imply official relations between the two. Thus, there would be a ROC foreign minister, in an official capacity, visiting several European countries as well as the EU Brussel headquarters.

The Chinese regime is facing growing criticism. Diplomatically, its “One-China” policy—which dictates that Taiwan is part of China, and that any country that has diplomatic ties with Beijing must sever relations with Taiwan—is facing more and more challenges. While no country had openly repudiated the policy, many are in fact ignoring it, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the tiny Baltic state of Lithuania.

In the Indo-Pacific, the United States and its allies are curbing the Chinese regime’s growing military threat and ambition to take over the region. Warships from the major Western countries recently sailed through the Taiwan Strait to deter the regime’s aggression against the ROC.

By embracing Taiwan and distancing from China, the international community is trying to rectify a wrong decision that was made 50 years ago.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Ching Cheong
Ching Cheong is a graduate of the University of Hong Kong. In his decades-long journalism career, he has specialized in political, military, and diplomatic news in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, and Singapore.