Beijing is getting another bad news from the island of Taiwan that it so desperately wants to claim, as voters in the southern port city of Kaohsiung have crushed the last prominent China-friendly voice in the island nation.
Taiwanese voters have removed a pro-China Mayor, Han Kuo-yu, this Saturday. Han had been elected in 2018 as Kaohsiung Mayor, which is a traditional stronghold of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party. Later, he also stood in the Presidential polls but lost in a landslide victory for Tsai Ing-wen.
Saturday’s vote, known as Recall, reflected upon Taiwan’s hardening stance on China and a decisive tilt towards pro-Independence sentiment in the country.
It is to be noted that Taiwan has been emboldened by some recent developments, all of which encourage it to pursue its recognition as an independent country much more vigorously.
Pro-Independence President Tsai Ing-wen was elected to power for a second consecutive term in a landslide in January this year. At one time, Taiwan was diplomatically isolated but now it finds that the world is standing with the country in these unprecedented times.
China’s irresponsible attitude during the Coronavirus Pandemic and “wolf-warrior diplomacy” aimed at bullying other countries meant that Taiwan was able to showcase its much more benevolent model of goodwill and genuine aid during the Pandemic.
While China’s ‘mask diplomacy’ boomeranged and Beijing also drew flak for interfering in the internal matters of other countries, Taiwan showed the way by shipping millions of masks across the world and winning praise from the United States and even the European Union that otherwise tends to support China.
Taiwan has greater acceptability among the international community than ever before. Countries like India that were earlier reluctant to strengthen ties are engaging more with Taiwan now.
When Tsai Ing-wen took oath for her second term, Prime Minister Modi sent two BJP MPs to attend the swearing-in ceremony, a clear departure in India’s Taiwan policy.
Similarly, Brazil too came out wishing the leader on her second term in power despite Chinese threats. France, the US and Australia are even more enthusiastic about supporting Taiwan.
While France has negotiated a defence deal with Taiwan, notwithstanding China’s objections, Australia has strongly backed Taiwan’s membership in the WHO.
The US President Trump has also signed the TAIPEI Act to support Taiwan’s international relations. The Act states that the US should strive to support Taiwan in strengthening the country’s alliances across the world in the face of Chinese pressure as countries like Burkina Faso, Gambia, Panama, and the Dominican Republic have formally severed diplomatic ties in favour of diplomatic relations with China.
Countries across the world have batted for Taiwan’s presence at the WHO, apart from hailing it for it’s brilliant Coronavirus response and thanking the island for its goodwill and aid towards other the rest of the world.
This has in turn bolstered the Pro-Independence sentiment in Taiwan. Make no mistake, before Tsai rose to power in 2016, the island nation had almost given up as they had accepted that it is only a matter of time when Taiwan is “reunified” with the mainland as the ruling Kuomintang increasingly tilted towards China.
But Tsai Ing-wen’s rise to power drew Taiwan away from pro-China sentiment and this year has further boosted her Pro-Independence pitch. She has been re-elected in a landslide victory and the Coronavirus Pandemic has helped her secure diplomatic courtesies from other parts of the world.
As Taiwan’s pro-Independence political leadership finds greater acceptability from other counties, Taiwanese voters are obliterating pro-China voices from the island.
The people of Taiwan are becoming increasingly ambitious, and they no longer care for pro-Beijing voices which run on the slogan, “Safety for Taiwan, money for the people.”
Pro-China elements within Taiwan encourage better ties with Beijing on the premise that it would reduce the chances of conflict and improve the Taiwanese economy.
But with Saturday’s vote removing a prominent pro-China Mayor, Taiwan has shown that it wants to be recognised as a truly democratic country, independent and separate from China.
The Dragon is threatening Taiwan with invasion- China has become increasingly intrusive near the Taiwanese islands in the South China Sea and earlier this year, one of China’s top military generals threatened Taiwan with military action.
“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or action,” said Li Zuoheng who is a member of China’s Central Military Commission.
However, the people of Taiwan are also growing awareness of how the little island is finding support from across the world and that invading the island itself happens to be a bloody, logistical nightmare- one that the People’s Liberation Army is too inexperienced to handle.
As one of the last pro-China voices gets crushed in Taiwan, Beijing can literally feel the island State slipping out of its hands.