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Message to Lai: Licking U.S. boots won't secure its real support

First Voice

Message to Lai: Licking U.S. boots won't secure its real support

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.

In his inaugural speech as the new leader of China's Taiwan region, Lai Ching-te has again attempted to "internationalize" the Taiwan question. "As Taiwan engages more closely with the rest of the world, we welcome the world to come closer to Taiwan," Lai said on Monday.

Under the slogan of "freedom and democracy," Lai called for "deep integration" with the international community – all in an attempt to seek external support for "Taiwan independence."

Democracy as a fig leaf

Lai's speech was filled with servility and begging to Western anti-China forces. Touting Taiwan's "strategic" position in the first island chain and its role as "an important link in the global chain of democracies," Lai tried hard to sell the island as an offering to anti-China forces.

As a "pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence," Lai exploits "democracy" – which was repeated 31 times in the address – as panacea to woo sympathy from the international community. Under the cloak of "democracy," he deliberately portrayed Taiwan as a "nation" that exists harmoniously with the world, and called for certain Western forces stand by Taiwan to counter "threats" from the mainland.

The Taiwan question, which concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, is never a matter of democracy. Lai's "democratic" rhetoric is, in essence, a fig leaf to cover his dangerous pursuit of "Taiwan independence."

But however hard he tries to take cover under the cloak of "democracy," Lai's true face of "seeking independence by relying on foreign support and by force" cannot be concealed.

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

U.S. 'support' a pure lie

"Taiwan independence" was, is and always will be a dead end.

For his "Taiwan independence" pursuit, Lai has been eagerly courting the United States to bolster his cause and proudly positioning himself as a "pawn" of anti-China forces. Lai-led Taiwan separatists cling to the naive belief that licking the U.S.'s boots will secure its support.

But the reality bites.

Washington continually espouses its "commitment" to "protecting" China's Taiwan region, but it would never prioritize Taiwan's interests over its own in the event of an armed conflict in the region. In essence, the U.S. views Taiwan as nothing more than a bargaining chip at the negotiating table. For this end, Washington has maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity towards the Taiwan question, a thinly veiled attempt to leverage the question against the Chinese mainland.

John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, unequivocally proposed playing the Taiwan card to "compel" the Chinese government to back down on other issues. In his opinion published in the Wall Street Journal, Bolton proposed a diplomatic ladder of escalation to "compel Beijing's attention," which could start with "officially" receiving Taiwan "diplomats," upgrading the status of U.S. representation in the Taiwan region, inviting Taiwan leaders to make "official visits" to the United States, allowing senior U.S. officials to engage in "government business" in Taiwan and ultimately restoring "full diplomatic relations" with Taiwan.

Clearly, Bolton's views have revealed Washington's real intentions behind its "support" to Taiwan: The Taiwan question is a pawn on its political chessboard and an easy card to pressure the Chinese government for more concessions.

In addition, Taiwan appears a lucrative prospect for the U.S. military-industrial complex. American politicians, like marionettes, frequently stoke tensions with the Chinese government over the Taiwan question, employing provocative rhetoric such as "war is inevitable" in the Taiwan Strait. By sensationalizing potential conflicts between the Chinese mainland and the Taiwan region, the U.S. military-industrial complex secures lucrative arms deals with Taiwan as a natural consequence.

The Pentagon seal in the Pentagon Briefing Room in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. /Getty
The Pentagon seal in the Pentagon Briefing Room in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. /Getty

The Pentagon seal in the Pentagon Briefing Room in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. /Getty

This strategy echoes the familiar pattern observed in the Middle East, where the United States has profited handsomely from the conflicts it ignites. For Washington, Taiwan represents yet another opportunity for financial gain, with its purported "protection" serving as a convenient political cover for its pursuit of greenbacks.

In May 2023, a delegation of U.S. arms dealers visited Taiwan under the guise of attending the "U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Forum," extolling "the virtues of war." Subsequently, in July, the White House announced a military assistance package worth up to $345 million for Taiwan. This was followed by President Joe Biden's approval of $80 million of U.S. taxpayers' money to Taiwan in November for the purchase of American military equipment, a move characterized by the BBC as "quietly arming Taiwan to the teeth." According to the Associated Press, David T. Chien, vice-chair of the Blue Sky Action Alliance, remarked, "They sell all sorts of outdated ammunition to Taiwan and make tens of billions of U.S. dollars from Taiwan every year."

In recent years, the U.S. government has lobbied the Democratic Progressive Party to extend Taiwan's compulsory military service. If Washington genuinely intended to "protect" Taiwan, it would not be manipulating the island to transform into a powder keg in East Asia.

Reunification the only way out

For individuals like Lai, the misguided belief persists that unwavering "loyalty" to the United States will secure its support, with the Taiwan Strait serving as a protective "moat" for their ill-conceived notions of "Taiwan independence." However, they fail to grasp that the true concern of the United States lies solely in its own political interests, it views Taiwan merely as a dispensable pawn in its geopolitical game. If there is no profit to be squeezed from this pawn, the United States would remain indifferent to the fate of the island’s people.

For democracy and freedom, Taiwan's reunification with the Chinese mainland is the only way out. China must be unified, and it will inevitably be unified. Regardless of changes in the situation on the island or who holds power, the fact won’t change that both sides of the Strait belong to one China, nor will the fundamental pattern and direction of cross-Strait relation change, or the historical trend of the eventual reunification of the motherland be stopped.

Lai's licking U.S. boots won't secure the latter's real support. His "loyalty" to the U.S. is instead dragging the region into an abyss of misery, with the local people being the biggest victim. Giving up the "Taiwan independence" daydream and recognizing the irreversible trend of China's reunification is the only way for real democracy and freedom to prevail in the Taiwan region.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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