Taiwan Continues Toward US-Engineered “Ukraine-ization”

ASIA--PACIFIC, 3 Jun 2024

Brian Berletic | Journal NEO - TRANSCEND Media Service

New Eastern Outlook

27 May 2024 – The Chinese Island province of Taiwan continues to be targeted by the US and its political proxies through efforts to further consolidate political control over it and transform it into a geopolitical “battering ram” against the rest of China.

Considering the catastrophic consequences the Eastern European nation of Ukraine is suffering from a similar US-engineered strategy, understanding what Washington is doing to Taiwan and why there is essential in exposing and possibly avoiding similar consequences of unfolding in the Asia-Pacific region.

New “President,” Same Policy of Separatism 

The US-backed Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Lai Ching-te took office as the local administration’s “president,” doubling down on a policy of integrating Taiwan further with the United States which includes military, political, and economic subordination.

Lai Ching-te’s predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen oversaw the expansion of a US troop presence, which according to the Wall Street Journal, includes outer islands claimed by the Taipei-based administration, as well as growing tensions with the rest of China. Taiwan’s local economy has suffered consistently as the island’s administration attempts to reduce its “dependency” on the rest of China, which represents the largest market (nearly half) for all exports from local industries.

Taiwan is Not a Country

The Guardian in its article, “China warns of reprisals against Taiwan after president’s inauguration speech,” attempts to portray China as bullying a “sovereign” Taiwan.

The article claims:

Beijing has warned of undefined reprisals against Taiwan after the inauguration speech of new president Lai Ching-te in which he maintained his government’s position on sovereignty, and did not concede to Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a province of China.

However, the fact that Taiwan is a province of China is not merely “Beijing’s claim.” It is recognized as such by the United Nations, the “One China” policy of nations around the globe, including the United States and most European states, as well as the constitution of the Taiwan-based “Republic of China” itself.

The Guardian along with much of the collective West’s media deliberately misinforms the general public regarding the status of Taiwan to help enable US efforts to transform the island province into a proxy against the rest of China much in the same way Ukraine has been transformed into a proxy against Russia.

The Guardian also noted:

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) called Lai’s speech “a downright confession of Taiwan independence”, and again labeled Lai a “dangerous separatist”. 

“No one hopes to achieve the reunification of the motherland through peaceful means more than we do,” the statement attributed to TAO spokesperson Chen Binhua said. “However, we must counterattack and punish the DPP authorities in colluding with external forces to pursue ‘independence’ provocations.”

The external forces being referred to of course are Washington and its allies. The DPP, and both Tsai Ing-wen and Lai Ching-te specifically, have a long history of consorting with the US government through the Taiwan-based “American Institute in Taiwan” (AIT).

The AIT serves as a de facto US embassy, since the US does not officially recognize Taiwan as a nation. In fact, on the US State Department’s official website, regarding the status of Taiwan, it specifically says, “we do not support Taiwan independence,” while admitting the AIT is “a non-governmental organization mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act to carry out the United States’ unofficial relations with Taiwan.”   

Washington’s Political Capture of Taiwan 

Originally, Taiwan served as the refuge of the fleeing Kuomintang (KMT), the US-backed losers of China’s civil war following the end of World War 2. To prevent China from sweeping away the remnants of Washington’s proxies, the US stationed thousands of troops on the island of Taiwan and invested heavily in maintaining what was then considered a pseudo-government-in-exile.

In the 1970s, the objective of reinstalling the KMT into power over the rest of China was no longer practical. Washington, along with the rest of the world, officially recognized the Beijing-based People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China, including Taiwan. The US also agreed to withdraw its military forces and eventually end the sale of weapons to Taiwan.

Despite these initial steps and the US to this day officially denouncing Taiwanese independence, its policy in recent years has been exclusively focused on promoting separatism, including through the return of US troops on the island, building up the military forces of the island’s administration, building up the DPP, maneuvering it into power, and aiding it in consolidating political control over the island to then pivot the population toward an anti-China, pro-separatist footing.

Taiwan: A Disposable Proxy 

While the ultimate goal has for decades been to transform Taiwan into a US client regime, fully independent of China, and use it as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” against the rest of China, the likelihood of this happening now is low. A much more measured objective is to use Taiwan as a means of complicating China’s rise, contributing to a larger US strategy of encirclement and containment, and raising the cost significantly for the eventual, full reunification of Taiwan with the rest of China.

More recent think tank papers, including a January 2023 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report titled, “The First Battle of the Next War: War gaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan,” discusses a possible Chinese “invasion” of its own island province, and admits that while it believes the US can ultimately frustrate such a military operation, it comes at the price of “extensive damage done to the Taiwanese infrastructure and economy.”

Obviously, scouring the physical surface of Taiwan of all industry and infrastructure, rendering its economy destroyed, equates to the destruction of Taiwan’s administration itself. Just like with Ukraine, which US policymakers in 2019 suggested aiding in a military build-up meant to provoke, rather than deter a Russian military intervention, the goal is not to deter conflict or save either Ukraine or Taiwan, but instead provoke conflict that can incur steep costs for both Russia and China, hopefully “extending” either or both nations to the point of a Soviet Union-style collapse.

Ukraine is already paying the cost of this policy vis-à-vis Russia, the policy having categorically failed in “extending” Russia or precipitating a collapse of either its government or economy. The use of Taiwan in a similar manner is unlikely to be any more successful for US policymakers, but Taiwan itself is just as likely to suffer catastrophically in the event of a future conflict as Ukraine is suffering now amid the current, ongoing conflict. Just as the rest of Europe is suffering from Washington’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, Washington’s use of Taiwan to provoke Beijing is having a destabilizing effect on the entire Asia-Pacific region.

The US-backed DPP remaining in office in Taipei ensures the danger of Taiwan becoming the next “Ukraine” remains a high likelihood. In the meantime, Taiwan’s local economy will continue to suffer as the current administration irrationally pivots away from the rest of China and further subordinates itself to US foreign policy objectives.

Only time will tell if Beijing’s own policy toward full reunification can outpace Washington’s policy of destroying the island before this happens. China’s approach involves a combination of military power to confront the growing US militarization of the island and a growing number of economic incentives to share with Taiwan the peace, stability, and prosperity the rest of China has increasingly enjoyed since the turn of the century.

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Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer.

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