Democracy under siege as China harasses Taiwan

The number of flights increased after the United States, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the Netherlands conducted joint military training exercises about 450 miles from Taiwan, exercises that Beijing considers a provocation. But China has been sending waves of warplanes near the island for months, in what appears to be a long-term effort.

This is a campaign designed to intimidate, to send the message that China still sees Taiwan as part of its empire under its “one China” policy. And woe to Taiwan in exercising its independence and expanding its relations with the rest of the world and with international organizations.

The most immediate danger, of course, is the very real risk of an accident or miscalculation that would lead to a larger conflict.

The latter point was a possibility raised by the US State Department in its official response to the escalation of weekend activity in Taiwan’s skies.

“The United States is very concerned about the provocative military activity of the People’s Republic of China near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson said. Ned Price. “We urge Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan. “

“The United States’ commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” he added. “We will continue to stand alongside our friends and allies to advance our prosperity, security and common values ​​and deepen our ties with Taiwanese democracy,” he added.

In the past, the United States has done more than publish statements of support. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, which is more than four decades old, the United States has supplied most of Taiwan’s arms. In 2019, the Trump administration, with strong bipartisan support from Congress, approved the sale of some $ 8 billion F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. This year, Taiwan is expected to spend around $ 1.4 billion on new jets.

But Taiwan’s future security does not depend solely on its weaponry. Another source of empowerment against Beijing’s incursion is Taiwan’s growing acceptance among Western countries (a delegation of French senators arrived on Monday) and as a valued member of international groups such as the World Trade Organization. , where, in deference to the sensibilities of mainland China, it is known as the “Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu”.

Today, as Taiwan National Day approaches this Sunday, she is once again reaching out – this time she has asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The fact that he did so a week after China submitted its own request to join the regional trade pact may also explain the intensification of Chinese saber-rattling.

“Taiwan is Taiwan and is not part of the People’s Republic of China,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement over the weekend. “The People’s Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan for a single day.

To which China’s Taiwan Affairs Bureau replied, “Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and has never been a country. He added, “Taiwan’s independence is a dead end.”

No Chinese threat should be viewed as idleness.

China’s growing dominance over Hong Kong and its continued erosion of freedoms has been a sobering lesson for Taiwan. In fact, a record number of Hong Kong residents (over 10,000) have chosen to settle in Taiwan following the Chinese crackdown on protesters.

Taiwan’s long-standing support of the United States, Japan and Australia offers a protective measure that should mean the current Chinese harassment campaign is unlikely to escalate. But as Taiwan is forced to scramble its own planes, the possibility of that miscalculation that Price has warned grows. Perhaps a word from President Biden himself wouldn’t hurt to underscore the depth of this nation’s continued interest in regional stability.

Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.

About Candace Victor

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