‘Only a matter of time’ before Taiwan has no allies: Chinese vice foreign minister

Amber Wang, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jan 19 2022 12:26 AM

New guidance on Taiwan expected at this year’s Communist Party national congress, observers say

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen stands next to French Senator Alain Richard during their meeting in Taipei, Taiwan October 7, 2021. Central News Agency/Pool via Reuters/File
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen stands next to French Senator Alain Richard during their meeting in Taipei, Taiwan October 7, 2021. Central News Agency/Pool via Reuters/File

Chinese vice foreign minister Le Yucheng said it was “a matter of time” before Taiwan lost all of its diplomatic allies, following Nicaragua’s switch in recognition to Beijing in December.

Taiwan’s list of international allies has dwindled from 22 to 14 since President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

In addition to Nicaragua, the Pacific Island nations of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands have severed ties with Taiwan since 2019.

“It is a matter of time before Taiwan’s diplomatic allies will be zero,” Le said, adding that Nicaragua represented “the general trend” and “international justice”.

Le made his assessment at the Macro Situation Annual Forum hosted by Renmin University in Beijing on Tuesday.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary.

Tensions in the Taiwan Strait have escalated in recent years, with Beijing deploying a record number of military aircraft to the island’s air defence identification zone, and the United States supporting Taiwan’s efforts to expand its presence on the international stage. The US has also backed Lithuania in its feud with Beijing over Taiwan.

During the forum, Le said the various shows of US support for “Taiwan independence” were unacceptable, went against its long-standing one-China policy and “stepped on the red line”.

“The United States also keeps saying that it will adhere to the one-China [policy], but in action, it is supporting Taiwan independence, constantly eroding China’s sovereignty … sending military advisers to Taiwan, and shipping advanced weapons to Taiwan,” he said.

When asked about the possibility of a war in the strait and a timetable for unification, Le said the only option for Taiwan’s future was to reunify with the mainland, warning “Taiwan independence” was “playing with fire”, and a “fuse” which should be resolutely opposed.

Chinese Taiwan affairs analysts and officials said the next few years would be key to the reunification process and a new guiding policy on the issue was expected to emerge from this year’s Communist Party national congress.

“The next five years will be the most critical in the process of China’s development. At the same time, the resolution of the Taiwan issues and the realisation of reunification have entered a critical period,” Wang Zaixi, vice-president of the National Society of Taiwan Studies, was quoted as saying by Shanghai-based news outlet Guancha.cn last week.

Sun Yafu, deputy head of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and former deputy director of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the new policy would be introduced during the congress and have “a positive impact” on the situation in Taiwan Strait.

But while China was advancing in overall strength to be closer to that of the United States, it had not reached the level of changing the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait, he said.

Additional reporting by Orange Wang

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