Ahead of its elections, Taiwan needs to be forewarned of putting too many eggs into the USA basket. A significant body of evidence warns that the people of Taiwan may find themselves nothing but pawns, to be sacrificed in the USA’s geopolitical game.
Duplicitous US policies make their Administration very good at accusations but very bad at proving things, this isn’t moral superiority, it’s hypocrisy, for example: dishonest accusations of cultural genocide abound when the national language is taught in Chinese schools but English language proficiency is a requirement of their own school system; the people of Crimea asked for Russian intervention which was bad, but the people of Gaza cried for freedom and were invaded which is somehow good. The population of Xinjiang live increasingly more comfortable lives and it’s called genocide while the people of Gaza lose 10,000 citizens in a month and that’s called self-defence.
China has built a military capacity to defend its people and that’s aggressive, while the USA sends over 100,000 troops to more than 750 military bases around the world and that’s defensive. Russia is criticised when a civilian dies while US supports Israel bombing hospitals and refugee camps, the US themselves, even “shock and awed” over 200,000 civilians to death in Iraq but that was collateral damage.
Ukraine were told that the USA will “support them until the end” until recently when they were told that they are nearing the “end of the rope”. Many thousands of lives would have been saved if the rope was shorter because now with half a million reported dead, a possible peace deal is being “broached”.
The US constantly engages, supports and funds people to work against their adversaries and then, as Joshua Wong and friends discovered, abandons them. Wong, in Hong Kong, was among the lucky ones. As many as 78,000 Afghan employees, interpreters, drivers, cooks, cleaners who “collaborated” with the USA were promised protection until they weren’t; the result was those horrifying videos as desperate people plunged to their deaths from departing US aircraft.
For Taiwan, there are already serious military plans to “make Taiwan unwantable” in the event that China decides to take the island back but the truth is, just like Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang the USA has no interest in the people, they’ve proven they have no interest in saving lives in Ukraine or Gaza. Their interest goes no further than how much they can antagonise China.
Neither Taiwan’s or the Mainland’s residents want a war, China’s government knows this all too well and has stated many times they will defend but never invade the province. In fact, no one, except perhaps shareholders of the military-industrial complex (MIC), wants war and yet the US, perhaps as a deferential nod to those MIC shareholders, has decided to “arm Taiwan to the teeth”.
US taxpayers are paying for part of this build-up under the same system being used to arm Ukraine called Foreign Military Finance. This is because what happens in Taiwan, just like what happened in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and now happening in Syria and Libya is in the interests of the United States not the interests of the people living in those places.
Since 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP party took over running the island, the USA has bet heavily on her and their “unsinkable aircraft carrier”. But in a few months-time, the bet will reach payout and, whether it has been a successful gamble, will depend on the result of an election in January 2024.
After devastating defeats in the “mid-term elections” Tsai stood down from the position of party leader, but retained the presidency. Her post was assumed by her deputy (William) Lai Ching-Te who will, if the Party is successful in the upcoming election, assume the role of president as Tsai steps-down after a two-term limit.
Those Mid-term defeats, as China’s media pointed out indicate that the population of the island seeks a clear path towards peace. The Kuomintang (KMT) party, led by current Taipei City Mayor Hou Youyi, which won most of the votes and administrative control of the island, is more favourable towards reconciliation with China. Understanding the meaning of that word carefully, he prefers status quo over reunification.
Former Taipei Mayor, Ke Wenzhe (Ko Wen-je) and Foxconn Founder Terry Gou, a former KMT member, are both candidates, Ke, for the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which is new, it was only formed in 2019. But then, democracy is also new. It didn’t exist in Taiwan until 1996 and is still developing, so a 5-year-old party in a 30-year-old system has as much chance as any. Gou on the other hand, doesn’t represent a party. He made a bid to run as a KMT candidate but failed and will stand as an independent.
Politicians everywhere understand the risks this poses. A former KMT candidate will dilute the KMT vote since many of the usual KMT voters approve of what he stands for and accept that he has the proven experience and ability to build and manage a hugely complex organisation.
In governance there are many reasons why people might vote for a person or a party but in Taiwan there is a primary consideration: for those who want more US support, stick with the DPP; for people wanting better relationships with China, there are three choices, the TPP, the KMT and a popular independent. All three have at different times, declared support for peace, stability, prosperity, and development across the Taiwan Strait, and all have opposed calls for independence. Lai, on the other hand wants closer ties to the US.
This dilution coupled with the lack of ability to get pro-China messages to the people, (the DPP closed down the only pro-China TV station), means that DPP could take the election but an election win for William Lai and the DPP will not mean he or his party are the most popular. In fact, the mid-term elections proved conclusively that they are not. It will however, suit the interests of the USA leading to further escalations in tensions. Not because the majority of people want that, but the adoption of a US style democratic process allows it. This is why the recent announcement of an alliance between the KMT and the TPP is so important. There is a long way and a lot of talking to be done before a strategy and the appropriate team to take to the election and very little time to do this and, according to Global Times, they each face certain defeat unless they can.
Should they fail to do it effectively, it will be very bad for the people of the entire region but in particular for the people of Taiwan who will find themselves nothing but pawns, to be sacrificed, in the USA’s geopolitical game.