On Saturday, current vice president and independence advocate Lai Ching-te (also known as William Lai) was elected the next president of Taiwan, winning over 40% of the popular vote. The election drew a series of strong rebukes from China, as experts noted that Lai’s victory signaled the continued resolve of the Taiwanese people to maintain their independence from the increasingly hostile communist regime.
The election marked the third consecutive time that Taiwanese citizens installed the country’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has maintained a consistent stance for Taiwanese independence from China. The DPP victory was quickly dismissed by Chinese officials, with the communist regime condemning the U.S. and the Philippines, among others, for congratulating Taiwan’s new president. “Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” one state official declared. The Chinese Embassy in London was similarly dismissive, stating, “No matter how the situation in Taiwan changes, the basic fact that Taiwan is part of China will not change.”
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that four Chinese military vessels were detected near Taiwan following the election, and “a high-altitude Chinese balloon floated off the northwest coast near the capital.”
On Tuesday, Gordon Chang, distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to discuss the implications of Taiwan’s election.
“Freedom had a great day, which means that Xi Jinping and the Communist Party had a horrible day,” he observed. “[William Lai] said throughout the campaign that his motto was going to be ‘continuity’ — continuity with Tsai Ing-wen, the current president. … Taiwan’s on a collision course with China, but it’s not because of the Democratic Progressive Party or William Lai or anything like that. They’re on a collision course with China because of China. And even if one of the pro-China candidates had been elected on Saturday, there still would be a collision, because Xi Jinping would be demanding that they surrender to China. And that’s just not possible in a democratic society where people believe that they are not Chinese.”
As Perkins further noted, Biden administration officials have repeatedly stated their desire to maintain the “status quo” with China in order to keep the peace. “We might want peace, but I’m not so sure that’s what’s on China’s agenda,” he remarked.
“No, it certainly isn’t,” Chang agreed. “You know, we’ve heard a lot of bland statements from the Biden administration. They sound good to the ear. But during the [last] three years, we have witnessed the failure and catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russia’s attack on Ukraine, China and Russia fueling insurgencies across North Africa that look like wars, and of course the October 7 attack on Israel, which now has spread to the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. So really what has occurred is a failure of the international system under Biden. Yeah, they can tell us nice sounding words, but they don’t mean anything because they’re not backed up.”
Chang went on to express alarm about the consequences that perceived weakness on the part of the Biden administration will have on the world stage.
“I’m really concerned because the Chinese can see the feeble responses of the Biden administration to all these crises, and then believe that they can do what they want,” he said. “… I think they’re getting the message that they have a free hand to greenlight all sorts of invasions around the world. You know, Tony, in 1939, there were crises across the world. There were wars across the world, and they merged into what we now know as World War II. And unfortunately, the same dynamic is occurring today. And I hope to God it doesn’t have the same result. But we are on a momentum toward global conflict.”
On Monday, Britain’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps echoed Chang’s concerns in a major speech in London, in which he urged Britain and its allies to increase defense spending in the face of an array of global threats.
“The era of the peace dividend is over,” he declared. “In five years’ time, we could be looking at multiple theatres involving Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Ask yourself, looking at today’s conflicts across the world, is it more likely that that number grows or reduces? I suspect we all know the answer: it’s likely to grow.”
Another factor to keep in mind is China’s current domestic situation, Chang pointed out. “I think their go/no-go decision [to invade Taiwan] is going to be based on domestic Chinese considerations,” he contended. “… [W]e do see symptoms of distress in Chinese society. … [China’s economy is] basically at 0% growth, maybe negative one, maybe plus one. It’s nowhere near the 5.2% that the premier of China mentioned at Davos, because we see a lot of indicators pointing to negative growth, and we see deflation tightening its grip over the Chinese economy.”
Invading Taiwan would likely help China’s economy, Chang concluded. “It certainly helps Xi Jinping, perhaps because he needs to have something to distract the Chinese people from his failing domestic policies.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.
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