Taiwan
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Taiwan, India stand on frontline of authoritarian expansion, says Taipei envoy

China’s current preoccupation with the Taiwan Strait doesn’t mean it will diminish its attention to the Indian Ocean, and both Taiwan and India stand on the frontline of authoritarian expansion, Taipei de-facto ambassador Baushuan Ger said on Thursday.

Other free and law-biding countries will suffer in the long-term if China’s wanton disregard for democratic principles and blatant violation of international law go unheeded, Ger said in an exclusive interview.

Speaker Pelosi’s visit marks the first visit by a US House Speaker in 25 years since Speaker Newt Gingrich went to Taiwan in 1997. This not only underlines the high level of support for Taiwan-US relations from the US Congress but once again reaffirms the rock-solid US commitments to Taiwan.

Taiwan

This historic visit by Speaker Pelosi has been met with overwhelming support and appreciation on the part of Taiwan and its people as it is instrumental in showcasing to the world that Taiwan is a bona fide partner in the global community of democracies. In addition, the visit is important in the sense that it helps restores much-needed confidence to Taiwan as it works hard to expand and deepen its engagement with other like-minded countries like the US and to defend its sovereignty and democratic way of life.

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Speaker Pelosi rightly pointed out during her visit in Taiwan, “The world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. American’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains ironclad.”

As the slogan of the Washington Post has it, “democracy dies in darkness”. To be sure, it is only in broad daylight where democracy thrives and flourishes. Given China’s relentless economic coercion and military intimidation against Taiwan, if China’s wanton disregard for democratic principles and blatant violation of international law go unheeded or if fellow democratic countries choose to keep silent, it is not only Taiwan that will suffer but also other free and law-biding countries in the long term.

Some commentators may reckon that China’s preoccupation with the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea would diminish its attention to the Indian Ocean and presumably India could rest assured about holding the momentary peace with China. I beg to differ. Think of 2020, when the Galwan Valley clash on the Indo-China border broke out. It was certainly not a time when China was any more or less preoccupied with its eastern flank.

Indeed, as Taiwan and India both stand on the frontline of authoritarian expansion, cooperation amongst democratic and like-minded countries is crucial more than ever to ensure our shared prosperity and collective security and to defend ourselves jointly against economic and military coercion by authoritarian states.

China’s reactions have been unwarranted given that there have been regular congressional and parliamentary visits between Taiwan and the US, Japan, the European Union and other like-minded countries. China’s provocative actions have seriously undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and posed a challenge to international trade and rules-based global order.

As noted in the statement issued by G7 foreign ministers and the EU High Representative on August 3, “there is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from (G7’s and EU’s) countries to travel internationally. The PRC’s escalatory response risks increasing tension and destabilising the region.”

In the face of global disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have learned too well that despite geographical distance, our lives are interconnected, and that we all have a stake in the stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

The strategic value of Taiwan lies not only in its geographical location on the front line of advancing authoritarianism, thus a springboard for China to further project its military ambition in the region, but also the fact that the global economy depends on Taiwanese firms for over 90% of leading-edge semiconductor production.

It has been heartening to see that the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is now shared by the international community.

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