Xi Jinping Carelessly Opens the Door to Taiwan's Independence
Tone-deaf remarks delivered by the Chinese strongman at the Boao Forum for Asia were aimed at the USA but could come back to bite China in the end.
“We must not let the rules set by one or a few countries be imposed on others, or allow unilateralism pursued by certain countries to set the pace for the whole world. What we need in today's world is justice, not hegemony. Big countries should behave in a manner befitting their status and with a greater sense of responsibility.“
These remarks delivered in Xi Jinping’s speech at a Chinese economic forum a few days ago were undoubtedly targeting the USA. But tone-deafness is an acute disease afflicting dictators locked away in their ivory towers particularly badly — which is why it makes for such an entertaining reading and could prove useful in conducting foreign affairs by other nations (assuming, of course, their leaders have the confidence to take advantage of the opportunity).
China keeps behaving like a burglar caught red-handed, defiantly claiming he didn’t commit any crime, blaming somebody else for it.
But the world isn’t this blind and words often have consequences — particularly those uttered by the most important of the global leaders. When China is talking about a “sense of responsibility“, “justice instead of hegemony“ or “unilateralism“ that is meant to subdue other countries, forcing them to toe the line set by a superpower, it is clearly talking about nobody else but itself.
China unilaterally claims most of the South China Sea (ignoring rulings of international courts). China unilaterally refused to share important information about Covid-19’s origins and showed lack of cooperation even when a WHO investigation did take place a year after. China unilaterally broke the commitments it bound itself to in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, that governed the handover of Hong Kong it signed with the UK — and many other promises it had made over the years (e.g. regarding intellectual property protections which were the preconditions to its admission to WHO 20 years ago, continuing unabatedly its brazen theft abroad).
Multilateralism is for Beijing a tool not of the first but rather last resort, whenever it wants to distract attention of the world from its various misdeeds. Its goal is achieving a global Sinocentrism, depolarizing the planet around just one dominant power - itself.
That said, if Beijing’s modern emperor so overtly wants to profess his embrace of multilateralism and independence of nations from the pressures of the “big countries“ it would only be right if we heeded his call and finally recognized the status of Taiwan — which China keeps denying the world the right to, bullying anybody who even dares to call the country by its name.
Taiwan is, by every possible measure, an independent country that nobody - including China - should lay any claims to.
The temerity China exhibits in talking about peaceful, respectful cooperation should only encourage the civilized world to take advantage of its ridiculous declarations and use them as an advantage to expose the emptiness of Beijing’s slogans and humiliate its antiquated leadership.
And it’s not like we don’t have the muscle. China may seem powerful but the Western world + Japan still hold an enormous economic advantage which should finally be transformed into political leverage - before it’s too late.
Taking grandiose postures at international forums is a flaw particularly strong in the politicians representing Marxist-Leninist regimes - so why not turn it into a fatal one?
The wealthy developed world should stop dancing around China trying to please and appease it, since it clearly has no intention to accept the courtship but, at best, feigns interest to get its way before dumping the wannabe lover.
Xi Jinping’s statement is not only a mistake - it’s also an admission that China is never going to accept the rules of international relations promoted by the Atlantic civilization, so there’s no reason to even try.
It is reminiscent of the tone once used by the imperial court in Beijing to rebuff the advances of British ambassadors, hopelessly attempting to open up the reclusive empire to foreign trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The time for America and Europe to call Xi Jinping out is short, as the Chinese leader is determined to make reunification of Taiwan his historic legacy. The importance is even greater now, with American restrictions on sales of critical IT technologies to PRC, while the most sophisticated chips are made in Taiwanese factories of TSMC, which is otherwise majority owned by foreign stakeholders.
Semiconductor crunch, coupled with Chinese struggles to catch up with the manufacturing technologies and foreign restrictions on sales of end products, can only accelerate hostile moves against Taiwan.
Is the West going to act in time? Well, all it needs to do now is follow Xi Jinping’s own words.