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Lai Ching-te's speech deceptive, dangerous and provocative

First Voice

New leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te /Xinhua
New leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te /Xinhua

New leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te /Xinhua

Editor's note: CGTN's First Voice provides instant commentary on breaking stories. The column clarifies emerging issues and better defines the news agenda, offering a Chinese perspective on the latest global events.

Sworn in as the new leader of China's Taiwan region, Lai Ching-te delivered his "pro-independence" message with unprecedented candor on Monday. His dangerous pursuit of "Taiwan independence" in collusion with the U.S. is pushing the region to the brink of armed conflicts.

A "sovereign, independent nation?" Ridiculous!

In his inauguration speech, Lai blatantly advocated the "two states" theory by citing Taiwan's history as a "sovereign, independent nation." Stressing that the "Republic of China" and the People's Republic of China are not subordinate to each other, Lai's speech aimed to perpetuate the notion of two separate "Chinas:" one represented by Taiwan and the other by the Chinese mainland.

This narrative flouts international legal norms. The 1943 Cairo Declaration and the 1945 Potsdam Proclamation clearly stipulated that Taiwan, a Chinese territory stolen by Japan, shall be restored to China. These documents with international legal effect formed an integral part of the post-WWII international order and also affirmed Taiwan's status as China's inalienable territory from a legal perspective.

On October 25, 1971, the 26th session of the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 with an overwhelming majority. The resolution resolved once and for all the question of the representation of the whole of China, including Taiwan, by the People's Republic of China, in the United Nations as a political, legal and procedural issue.

Taiwan being a part of China is the international consensus. So far, a total of 183 countries have established diplomatic relations with China, the prerequisite of which is recognizing the one-China principle.

As the leader of the Taiwan region, Lai should at least learn some history. No matter how the situation changes across the Taiwan Straits, the basic fact that there is only one China, and that Taiwan is a part of China, will not change.

People hold their banner saying
People hold their banner saying "there is only one China in the world" to protest against Lai Ching-te's "transit" visit to San Francisco, U.S., August 16, 2023. /CFP

People hold their banner saying "there is only one China in the world" to protest against Lai Ching-te's "transit" visit to San Francisco, U.S., August 16, 2023. /CFP

"Intimidation" from the mainland? Nonsense!

Seen as a declaration for "Taiwan independence," Lai's speech has sent a dangerous signal to cross-Straits peace and stability. But interestingly, Lai has repeatedly touted for "peace" and accused the Chinese mainland of "political and military intimidation" in his address.

Before depicting the mainland as a "bully," Lai should be clear about this simple fact: Taiwan is a part of China, and this means the Chinese government is entitled to take necessary measures including military activities to safeguard the country's core interests.

China's justified actions to protect its sovereignty are not to "annex Taiwan" as Lai hyped.

Lai's pursuit of "Taiwan independence" in collusion with exterior forces – not countermeasures from the Chinese government – is the source of trouble across the Taiwan Straits.

The current complex and grave situation in the region is rooted in the separatist stance of the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP. Its rejection of the 1992 Consensus that embodies the one-China principle and collusion with external forces to make provocations is the root cause of tensions across the Taiwan Straits. Lai's speech, which exposed his nature as a "worker for Taiwan independence," has added fuel to tensions, pushing the region to the brink of armed conflicts.

The Chinese government has reiterated that Taiwan will never be a country and no separatist activities seeking "Taiwan independence" will ever succeed. China must and will be reunified. Lai is clear about the Chinese mainland's determination for reunification and the consequences of provoking the one-China principle, but is taking every opportunity possible to challenge the Chinese government's red line on the Taiwan question.

In this context, who is the real threat to regional peace and the well-being of the Taiwan people?

Protesters rally against Lai Ching-Te's
Protesters rally against Lai Ching-Te's "stopover" in San Francisco, the U.S., August 16, 2023. /CFP

Protesters rally against Lai Ching-Te's "stopover" in San Francisco, the U.S., August 16, 2023. /CFP

Lai's ideal of pursuing peace and democracy? A pure lie!

Stressing that peace is the only option and Taiwan will make no concessions on democracy and freedom, Lai tries to depict himself as the "guardian of peace.”

Known as a "pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence," Lai is adept at playing the "peace" card for his political ambitions. Lai's pledge to maintain the "status quo" across the Taiwan Straits is, in essence, an attempt to pacify Washington in exchange for the latter's support.

It is worth noting that Lai once boldly proclaimed if Taiwan's leader "can enter the White House, the political goal we're pursuing will have been achieved." This audacious statement appeared to unsettle Washington, prompting U.S. officials to press Lai to clarify his "contentious remarks about White House visits" and to reaffirm America's commitment to the one-China principle.

Lai adeptly discerned the United States' preference for maintaining the status quo and steering clear of entanglements. Knowing that Uncle Sam is more inclined to choose a pawn without its own agenda, Lai marketed himself as a "peace-loving" leader to assuage his master's fears that his separatist ambitions might spark conflict in the Taiwan Straits.

Beneath Lai's facade as a "guardian of peace and development" lies his true agenda as a proponent of "Taiwan independence." For an opportunist like Lai, the U.S. is the master he aims to serve, while the people of Taiwan are merely pawns in his quest to better serve his lord. Lai is clear that "peace" is a word that his master is happy to hear.

Lai has also attached great importance to "democracy," mentioning the word 31 times in his speech. But in reality, his stubborn pursuit of "independence" in collusion with Washington is the biggest threat to democracy. "Peace" and "democracy" are just Lai's slogans to woo support from the U.S. and certain other countries for his separatism dream.

To "ensure the world is without the fear of war breaking out" as Lai has urged on Monday, the DPP giving up its independence ambition is the first step. But apparently, this is unlikely under Lai's tenure. The new leader's commitment to keeping peace across the Taiwan Straits is merely lip service, attempting to mask his separatist inclinations.

The mainstream public aspiration in the Taiwan region is for peace and development, instead of war and recession. Discrediting the Chinese mainland's efforts for reunification as "intimidating" Taiwan, Lai is instead the most dangerous turbulence in the region, sacrificing local people for his selfish separatism daydream.

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