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Time for pushback against PRC

The world is slowly shifting from a global village paradigm to that of a global home.

It is a major shift and requires that all nations not only are involved, but also are responsible players.

To make this shift, they must recognize that they are members of one family, the human race, and live in one home, planet Earth.

This is a simple statement, but it remains a difficult concept to accept, because it requires nations to always consider the good of the whole.

Long in coming, this shift has ironically been helped by the spread of certain viruses in the past two decades. Viruses care little for national borders. They also disregard the alleged superiority of any race, class, culture, religion or claims to territory.

The world’s nations had a taste of this with the 2003 SARS epidemic. They should have learned since then, but they have not, perhaps because SARS had not spread far enough around the globe or did not kill many people before it was contained.

However, COVID-19 is different. This new virus comes as a wake-up call, and yet nations are still not up to facing it. Transparency and honesty on the virus’ origin are lacking.

Why? The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the obvious source, but the other nations still find it difficult to point the finger and demand accountability. It seems that each nation’s profit from trade with China outweighs the good of the whole.

This type of accountability goes far beyond criticizing China for its human rights abuses or draconian laws. It addresses how this virus endangers the whole of humanity and how credible information is needed.

Yet nations still remain reluctant to demand accountability. How many must die before this can happen?

A clear reality check is needed. As of yesterday, there were more than 180 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 3.9 million deaths.

Additionally, the US had reported the most fatalities among all nations, with 603,181 deaths, and a fatality rate of 1,857 per 1 million people.

On the other hand, China, the source of the virus, was in 100th place in terms of death toll, with 4,846 fatalities.

China claims to have only had three deaths per 1 million people. How is this possible?

Questions immediately emerge about reliability and credibility. How can China rank as low as 100th among 220 nations and territories in cases and deaths?

From the start, China had been hiding the virus until it could no longer be contained.

Why has there been no demand for honesty concerning its reporting of cases and deaths?

This is not rocket science or complex mathematics. Instead, all that exists is an extreme credibility gap. Why has everyone, including the WHO, given China a free pass on responsibility for its numbers?

Granted that China is a major financial contributor to the WHO and, because of the vast number of people it controls, it cannot be left out of studies.

However, that should never be a reason to let if off the hook when the good of the whole is concerned.

China has also been hindering Taiwan, a leading proponent of virus control, from participating in solving the crisis. It uses its influence to block Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly. Again, more “why” questions come up.

Politics is the simple answer.

It is no secret that China covets Taiwan, and by methods such as restricting its participation in world affairs, it hopes to isolate and acquire it.

What is its motive? The most simple reason is power and economics. China wishes to control the South China Sea and all of its shipping lanes. To do this, it must control Taiwan; this is the heart of the matter.

Forget any fabricated historical reasons that China might present in its claim over Taiwan. If one tries to justify actions based on history, whatever line of argument one might use, there would be a much stronger case that Mongolia should be part of a prevaricated China.

However, Mongolia is not; it is independent.

This is where the US as a world leader comes in. Where should it stand?

At the end of World War II and in the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, the US, as chief victor in the Pacific region, should have been the determining factor concerning Taiwan’s status.

However, for one reason or another, it has continuously kicked the can down the road and put off making any definitive decision on the future of Taiwan.

This has also given the late-coming PRC its opening.

Finally, after 75 years, the US is realizing that its past positions of ambiguity are no longer tenable. COVID-19 has exposed not only how far China will go to mask its ambition, but also how it is willing to sacrifice the health of the planet to that aim.

The US and the other nations must face this reality. China is willing to put all at risk to serve its hegemonic needs.

Return to the significant matter of the South China Sea and its shipping lanes: To control them, China needs to control Taiwan. This is what the US, Japan and all other interested nations must recognize.

In its ongoing and unilateral process of controlling the South China Sea, Beijing went to war with Vietnam over the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島).

It later followed up on its claim by building large military bases on islands in the South China Sea, infringing on the territorial rights of neighboring countries.

It has bullied and cajoled the Philippines by ignoring the victory Manila won in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) when the court ruled that China’s imaginary “nine-dash line” claims were invalid.

Most recently, China is upping its game by pushing into Malaysian airspace.

Beijing makes similar efforts in the East China Sea, where Chinese ships are challenging Japan’s right to control the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), in Japanese the Senkaku.

However, for China to control the South China Sea and claim its mare nostrum, it still needs Taiwan. The nation remains the crucial key; it is the link between the South and East China seas.

Because of the size difference between the two, China threatens, bullies and attempts to limit democratic Taiwan’s scope of actions.

It draws imaginary red lines and says that it will not allow Taiwan to declare independence. It insists that Taiwan not change its name, flag or Constitution from the antiquated Republic of China because those factors allegedly give China its fabricated claim to Taiwan.

China can do this with Taiwan because of the size difference, but it cannot make such moves toward the US or Japan, its pledged partners in defense.

It is time for Washington and Tokyo to begin giving China’s hegemony blowback. Taiwan cannot do it alone.

Trade with China might be lucrative, but nations cannot have their cake and eat it.

After SARS, China again put the world ruthlessly at risk with COVID-19. What will be next in China’s unilateral quest for control?

Taiwan is the key to China’s dominance of the South China Sea, and all must come to realize it. Anyone with memory of World War II should realize that Taiwan has become China’s lebensraum.

Earlier this month, three US senators visited Taiwan. They flew from Japan on a US Air Force military jet to announce a US donation of COVID-19 vaccines. The jet visibly landed in the heart of Taiwan’s capital, at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), which is connected to a Taiwanese military base.

It was a good start, but more is needed to balance China’s unilateral ambition to control Taiwan, the South China Sea and its shipping lanes.

Beijing has already upped the ante by increasing the number of fighter jets intruding into Taiwanese airspace. As China is pushing the envelope for regional control, the time has come for the US, Japan and other concerned nations to increase their efforts to counter this hegemony.

China’s irresponsibility in handling and reporting the virus betrays its ambitions. In response, a good, clear way to begin to counter China would be for the involved nations to have their military ships make port calls in Taiwan.

An even better and stronger follow-up would be for the US to have a carrier battle group visit Kaohsiung. Lacking that, a visit by US cruisers and destroyers on patrol in the Taiwan Strait would do. The port is open.

Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2021/06/26

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Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman You Ying-lung, second right, speaks in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The percentage of people identifying themselves as “Taiwanese” has reached a record high, according to a poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation.