Taiwan’s international space: A tale of two speeches

American Enterprise Institute
Date: November 6, 2019
By: Michael Mazza, Visiting Fellow

At the recent Xiangshan Forum (香山論壇) in Beijing held from October 20 to 22, Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) had harsh words for the people of Taiwan and those that support them in their desire to live freely:

The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is a matter of China’s core interests. It is extremely dangerous to repeatedly challenge China’s bottom line on this question. If anyone ever tries to secede Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will take resolute actions and pay whatever price that has to be paid.

This language echoed his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, which were arguably more inflammatory, with Wei issuing a warning directed not only at Taiwan, but specifically at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP): “Firstly, no attempts to split China would succeed. Secondly, any foreign intervention is doomed to failure […]. Thirdly, any underestimation of the [People’s Liberation Army’s] resolve and will is extremely dangerous.” The warning to the DPP marked an unambiguous effort to influence the presidential election campaigns in Taiwan. The unstated, but implicit message to the island’s voters: the DPP is leading you towards disaster.

The Xiangshang Forum language is not, in and of itself, remarkable. But the nature of the deliveryman adds a menacing edge, while the delivery at prominent security forums—especially Shangri-La—means the intended audiences are not only domestic and in Taiwan, but international as well. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) aims to instill fear into other nations regarding their own relationships with Taiwan. Beijing wants to disabuse foreigners of the notion that they should have any interest in Taiwan’s fate or have any capacity to affect that fate. Put simply, these speeches are part and parcel of a broader PRC effort to isolate Taiwan on the international stage and instill a sense of resignation among Taiwan’s people.    [FULL  STORY]

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