This Could Be the Start of China's Invasion of Taiwan

AP Photo/Louise Delmotte

China's invasion of Taiwan was probably always going to look a lot like China takeover of Hong Kong. If you recall, Hong Kong was also relatively free and independent until China pushed through new laws which made it a crime to say anything bad about the mainland. That of course also meant that you couldn't hold big protests in the streets complaining about the mainland. From there it was a relatively simple matter to arrest and threaten all the protest leaders with long prison sentences and to shut down media voices that sided with the protesters. Over the span of about a year, Hong Kong's freedoms evaporated.

Advertisement

Over the last few days Taiwan has seen the start of what may be the same process. A week ago, Lai Ching-te, also known as William Lai, was inaugurated as Taiwan's new president. As the leader of the DPP, he gave a speech focused on maintaining the status quo, one in which Taiwan has its own sovereignty and runs democratic elections separate from mainland China, albeit without international recognition as a distinct country. China responded to his win and his speech refusing to bend the knee with a series of military drills which they described as "punishment" for President Lai's "separatist" attitude.

China launched "punishment" drills around Taiwan on Thursday in what it said was a response to "separatist acts", sending up heavily armed warplanes and staging mock attacks as state media denounced newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te.

The exercises in the Taiwan Strait and around groups of Taiwan-controlled islands beside the Chinese coast come just three days after Lai took office.

China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and denounces Lai as a "separatist", decried his inauguration speech on Monday, in which he urged Beijing to stop its threats and said the two sides of the strait were "not subordinate to each other".

China has been putting on a show like this for years at this point, though the latest exercises continued to push the envelope with the number of planes and ships involved.

Advertisement

But as in Hong Kong, the real action was happening among lawmakers. While Lai won the top office in the election, his opponents in the pro-China KMT gained seats in the legislature. Together with a third party, which is also seen as holding a "pragmatic" view of the mainland, the KMT has a one vote margin of control. On May 17 they started pushing through new laws aimed at limiting the power of the new president.

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and the smaller Taiwan People’s party, which together can muster a majority in the legislature, passed most of the proposals in a marathon session on Friday, slowed only by constant procedural delays by the DPP. Voting is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.

The proposed changes make it an offence punishable with up to one year in prison for government officials to lie in parliamentary hearings and introduce heavy fines for those seen as not fully co-operating with lawmakers.

Opposition obstruction of the new administration had been expected, said Lev Nachman, a political scientist at National Chengchi University in Taipei.

“But these changes have the potential to not just block Lai, but undo much of what has been done in the past eight years,” he said. “The worst-case scenario is that this turns into a witch hunt of any official [the opposition] wants to see gone.”

Another thing the new laws could make possible is for KMT lawmakers to demand classified information from the military which could then be leaked to China. That could be very useful to China if it ever does launch a military invasion.

Advertisement

The new proposals have already generated serious pushback. Days before Lai was inaugurated the effort to introduce them led to a brawl in parliament with pushing, screaming, shoving and one member sent to the hospital.

By the end of last week, thousands of people were turning out in the streets to oppose the new rules.

The protesters see this as the hand of China reaching into parliament by way of the KMT.

Despite the denials of the Nationalist Party of being influenced by Beijing, many demonstrators who have gathered outside the legislature were not persuaded.

“I cherish my way of life, and I do not want to stand on the same side as the Chinese Communist regime,” said Zhan Fang-yu, 24, a scriptwriter in Taipei who supports formal independence for Taiwan. “I feel like protests like this are not just a fight against the bill, but also an ideological fight.”

Advertisement

President Lai still has the ability to block the new law but he will have to move carefully because there may be things he wants this same legislature to pass. Shutting them down a week into his term could be a very bad start for his own agenda.

Unlike the conflict in Ukraine or even the one in Gaza, the outcome of this will have a direct impact on the US economy. A Chinese takeover of chipmaker TSMC would immediately put the CCP in charge of the most advanced chip foundries in the world. They could quite easily deal a blow to our tech industry that it would take us several years to recover from. A bipartisan group of lawmakers just visited Taiwan to express support for President Lai.

After China performed two days of military drills intended to punish Taiwan, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas on Monday stood alongside the island nation’s newly elected president, Lai Ching-te, and issued a promise.

“The United States must maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or coercion that would jeopardize the security of the people of Taiwan,” Mr. McCaul, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “That is what we stand for, and that is what we continue to say.”

Mr. McCaul, a Republican, traveled this week to Taipei with a bipartisan delegation of other American lawmakers in an attempt, he said, to show that the U.S. government stood in lock step with Mr. Lai and Taiwan...

“Even though there are debates about other theaters of war,” Mr. McCaul said, “I can tell you there is no division or no dissension when it comes to Taiwan in the Congress.”

Advertisement

As McCaul pointed out in an interview, a Chinese takeover of TSMC would make the disruption caused by the pandemic look like a picnic in comparison.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos

Advertisement
John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement