Taiwan and the United States are rapidly developing closer relations than ever before.
Unfortunately, one major instigator threatens to unravel the progress that we have achieved — China. Taiwan has tried repeatedly to be effective stewards of cross-strait relations with China. But no matter what our country does, China continues to use the only language it understands — intimidation. Chinese boats patrol Taiwanese coastline and jets intrude on Taiwanese airspace, which are blatant military threats.
As China increases its disrespectful push to antagonize the West, Taiwan has become a closer partner to its American and European allies. Taiwan has worked closely with its allies to fight the pandemic, create close economic trade partnerships, and to promote educational cooperative efforts. My country espouses the values of the United States: freedom, democracy, and inclusion for all. The freedoms allowed by our free and open political system create a much higher quality of life than those who live under the oppressive dictatorial regime of China.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the international community values Taiwan’s inclusion in official representative bodies. Despite Taiwan being an independent, sovereign body, the United Nations does not recognize us. The U.N. won’t even let Taiwan be included in climate change discussions, such as the U.N. Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Taiwan can’t gain membership in INTERPOL, which facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control, leaving potential blind spots in the world’s security without this partnership.
Why is Taiwan consistently excluded? Chinese overreach and aggression. China tries to claim that Taiwan is a part of its communist regime despite the fact that our countries could not be more different.
China tries to restrict the freedom of the international community to work with Taiwan. Taiwan’s allies have been under constant assault for recognizing the legitimacy of Taiwan. Lithuania was under heavy diplomatic and economic assault by China for committing the unthinkable crime of naming Taiwan directly in its representative office, instead of using the standard “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” indirectly enforced by China. China embargoed Australian wine producers in an attempt to strong-arm the country to break faith with Taiwan. But neither country broke down under this pressure. It is better to build friendship through common beliefs rather than trying to rule through fear.
However, not everyone has been so steadfast in their support of democratic ideals when faced with Chinese pressure. We have seen the backtracking of many American businesses in the Southeast, whose claims to support American values apparently fall by the wayside when challenged monetarily. UPS, for example, refuses to acknowledge Taiwan as a location that you can ship packages to, instead calling the country: “Taiwan, China.”
It is comforting to know that most Americans see the issue of Taiwan freedom for what it is. Taiwan is thankful that the U.S. government publicly supports Taiwan and has promoted our inclusion in the U.N. The defensive guarantees by the U.S. government are helpful in deterring China’s military. Even more international support is needed to ensure that China does not get away with its wayward aggression.
Do you want to stand beside the Taiwanese people, who agree with American concepts of freedom, human rights and free markets? Or do you support communist China, which despises everything America stands for?
Stand for Taiwan, a committed global partner, and defend our common values of freedom, open trade and democracy.
Elliot Wang is director-general, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta.