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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Taiwan and Operation MIST

Taiwan and Operation MIST

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) on Friday last week launched an initiative urging governments around the world to conduct a detailed assessment of the impact of a contingency in the Taiwan Strait, and to work toward ensuring that such a contingency does not happen.

The initiative is called “Operation MIST” — with the acronym standing for Measure the Impact of a Shock in the Taiwan Strait — “because you cannot prevent what you cannot see,” the alliance said in a video at the launch.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed the initiative, thanking the IPAC for its support of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

If the spirit of MIST appears at odds with the comments by French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview in April last year that the EU should not allow itself to get involved in “crises that aren’t ours,” it is because it is. The video specifically refers to Macron’s comments back then, and refutes them.

Macron did clarify his position days after the interview, saying that it was in line with “the ‘one China policy’ and a Pacific resolution of the situation.”

This strikes to the very heart of the need for the IPAC to speak up for elected representatives in other countries, parliamentarians who are not government ministers and are therefore not representative of the government’s official position.

Although the “one China” policies of member nations might differ in formulation, and are not the same as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “one China principle,” they nevertheless tie the hands of governments not wanting to provoke Beijing, even if those governments do not buy the CCP’s distortions.

Even though the European Parliament last month expressed its support for Taiwan in its annual the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy report, saying: “Neither Taiwan nor China is subordinate to the other,” this still fell short of cutting through the CCP’s lies over Taiwan’s status.

The British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee pulled no such punches in its report Tilting Horizons: The Integrated Review and the Indo-Pacific, published in September last year. The committee wrote that “although Chinese officials claim that Taiwan has been part of China for 1,800 years, it was only when the Manchu Empire took control of China and Taiwan that China ruled there;” that “the People’s Republic of China has never controlled Taiwan;” and that “Taiwan is already an independent country.”

The EU report does have a positive influence on changing the narrative on Taiwan’s status; the British parliamentary report and its more direct conclusions ratchet the discourse in Taiwan’s favor. The IPAC consists of more than 250 parliamentarians from more than 30 nations, and its initiative is also important.

The comments in the reports and Operation MIST differ in that the former pertain to Taiwan’s status, the latter to the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The common thread is that they contribute to the “internationalization” of Taiwan and the refutation of the idea that the CCP should be left alone to deal with what it calls a “domestic affair.”

The internationalization of an understanding of Taiwan’s status is very welcome, but the internationalization of a Taiwan contingency has the potential to be a double-edged sword. Operation MIST is about awareness of risks to the global economy and to other countries’ national security. The long-term antidote is mitigation of risk by reducing reliance on Taiwan in the global supply chain and of the need for freedom of navigation through the Taiwan Strait.

Even as it welcomes messages of support, the government must itself remain clear-eyed and be aware where this is headed.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2024/03/14

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US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has warned China about intercepting US reconnaissance flights over the Taiwan Strait.

He was speaking in Washington following the revelation this week that two Chinese Su-27 fighter planes entered Taiwanese airspace last month as they attempted to drive away a US U-2 spy aircraft.

Military sources said one of the Chinese fighters did not leave Taiwanese airspace until after the Taiwan Air Force scrambled two F-16 aircraft to intercept it.