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China's Regime Deserves to Be Shunned for Bullying Taiwan

“The use of force is an option that mainland China has always maintained (使用武力是中国大陆始终保持的一个选项),” wrote in a recent op-ed Hu Xijin (胡锡进) about Beijing's plans to annex Taiwan.

Hu Xijin is the former editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid owned by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

"Taipei Skyline 2022.06.29" by 毛貓大少爺 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Hu wrote that the use of force is “the fundamental pillar for the advancement of the peaceful reunification route,” calling it “the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces” (使用武力是中国大陆始终保持的一个选项,它也是和平统一路线得以推进的根本支撑,是悬在“台独”势力头顶的达摩克利斯之剑).

“Let us support the People's Liberation Army,” he continued, “and various preparations for the military struggle in the Taiwan Strait, while maintaining a stable and calm collective attitude and continuously enhancing cohesion around major national decisions. Taiwan cannot escape, and reunification will eventually be achieved. The Sword of Damocles, the sword of force, not only hangs there, but is definitely not just for show” (我们支持解放军和针对台海军事斗争的各种准备,同时保持稳健、从容的集体态度,不断增强围绕国家重大决策的凝聚力。台湾跑不了,统一终将实现,武力这把达摩克利斯之剑不仅高悬在那里,而且绝非摆设).

The People's Republic of China (PRC) claims Taiwan as part of its territory, a doctrine it calls the “One-China principle”, which states that: “There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”

Hu Xijin is considered the founder of “commercial nationalism” in the PRC, a tabloid style that is both in line with the regime's ideology, and profitable. Hu claims that he participated in the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, but later became a staunch supporter of the CCP.

The “Sword of Damocles” Hu is talking about is just another word for blackmail. The PRC has engaged for decades in blackmail, in threats and harassment, in order to bring under its control 23 million Taiwanese people who have never been ruled by the CCP’s authoritarian regime, and do not want to be ruled by it.

According to a poll released in November 2023, 44.3 percent of Taiwanese supported “forever maintaining the status quo,” and 35.8 percent of respondents supported “maintaining the status quo while working toward independence.”

Only 0.7 percent of respondents supported “unification as soon as possible”, and 11.5 percent supported “maintaining the status quo while working toward unification”.

The “status quo” means that Taiwan is de facto an independent sovereign state. Holding an independence referendum would be just a formality.

The international community pretends that the PRC is just a state like any other. On January 16, for instance, PRC Premier Li Qiang (李强) was given a platform at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. He gave a keynote speech, saying that the PRC economy was open for business. He highlighted the country's potential for foreign investment, and stressed that the world needs to pull down barriers to competition and trade to tackle global challenges. Quite ironic, considering the PRC's notorious unfair trade practices.

In the US, some business tycoons and left-wing figures alike are willing to support Beijing, to become apologists and sycophants for the regime.

The PRC’s behaviour should not be normalised. Its leadership pursues a policy of hegemony couched in anti-US, anti-imperialist rhetoric. It is not a coincidence that Beijing has territorial disputes with nearly all of its neighbours.

The PRC claims virtually the entire South China Sea, where it has built artificial islands and military bases, and faces opposition from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The green lines on the map below show the extent of Beijing's maritime claims:

The PRC's maritime claims (the so-called "9 dash line"). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 

When the PRC released a new official map in 2023, several countries protested. For example, Malaysia's Foreign Ministry stated: "Malaysia does not recognize China's 2023 standard map, which outlines portions of Malaysian waters near Sabah and Sarawak as belonging to China. Malaysia is not bound to China's 2023 standard map in any way.”

The PRC also has disputes with Japan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, South Korea, and Russia.

In 2023, the PRC and the Philippines engaged in a series of tense incidents over disputed islands, reefs, and shoals.

The conflict escalated when the PRC intensified its pressure on the Philippines' presence in the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef where a small contingent of Philippine marines has been stationed since 1999 on a rusting World War II-era ship.

Beijing has repeatedly tried to block and harass the Philippine resupply vessels, using its coast guard and maritime militia forces to assert its control over the area. In December 2023, a PRC coast guard ship sprayed water cannons at a Philippine boat, causing damage and injuries to the crew. A few days later, a PRC and a Philippine vessel collided near the shoal, sparking a diplomatic protest from Manila.

The Second Thomas Shoal is not the only hotspot in the South China Sea. In March, the Philippines detected hundreds of PRC fishing boats, believed to be part of the maritime militia, near the Julian Felipe Reef (also known as Whitsun Reef), a coral reef within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The Philippines accused the PRC of violating its sovereignty and demanded the withdrawal of the boats, but Beijing refused, claiming that the reef is part of its territory and that the boats were merely sheltering from bad weather. The standoff lasted for weeks, drawing international condemnation and support for the Philippines from the United States, Japan, Australia, and other countries.

These examples show that the CCP regime is not a constructive and peaceful member of the international community. Would a government interested in cooperation and stability have territorial and trade disputes with so many countries?

The case of Taiwan is particularly egregious. Here is a people that has overcome decades of dictatorial rule, built a successful democracy, and plays a positive role in the international community. But the one-party dictatorship in Beijing cannot let them be. It has to threaten them with annexation on the basis of its ultranationalist, imperialist ideology.

We have seen what happens when the CCP takes over a new territory. In 1997, the United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to the PRC. In June 2020, Beijing imposed on Hong Kong the National Security Law, destroying the city's civil rights and liberties.

There is no doubt that the PRC would do to Taiwan what it did to Hong Kong, forcing its authoritarian conformity on the people, empowering its puppets and silencing its opponents.

The international community should not normalise such behaviour. There really is no grey area or no complexity to this situation. Taiwan has never been part of the PRC. It is a democracy. The vast majority of its people don't want to be subjects of some CCP overlords in Beijing. 


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