Taiwan fears becoming China’s next target after Hong Kong.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu expressed concern on Wednesday that China might attempt to take Taiwan by force to relieve domestic pressure after it tightens its grip on Hong Kong.
Speaking to foreign media at a briefing, Wu said China’s recent passage of a national security law for Hong Kong changes the status quo of the former British colony, now a semiautonomous Chinese territory.
“It is doing something similar elsewhere in the world,” Wu said, referring specifically to the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
As China faces many problems at home and abroad, Wu said Beijing is likely to use external conflicts to solve its internal problems, a practice Wu said common among authoritarian governments when social stability is at stake and domestic unity is problematic.
“Taiwan is a very convenient scapegoat for China,” Wu said, noting how China has never renounced the use of force against the self-ruled island, which it considers a renegade province awaiting unification.
Taiwan and China have been separately governed since they split amid a civil war in 1949.
Wu said while the world is preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s armed forces still found time to threaten Taiwan by conducting military exercises simulating an attack.
Regarding the East China Sea, where China and Japan often feud over a group of uninhabited islands also claimed by Taiwan, Wu said his government takes the matter seriously.
He said Taiwan supports Japan’s firm response to China’s provocations in waters around the islands to prevent such behavior from becoming the norm.
As for the South China Sea, Wu dismissed opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) calls for President Tsai Ing-wen to visit Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island, or Itu Aba, the largest naturally formed feature in the Spratly Islands, which are claimed wholly or in part by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“There’s no doubt that the Taiping Island is our territory,” he said. “It’s not quite appropriate to use this issue as a tool for political rivalry between parties.”
Wu also reasserted sovereignty over the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Islands, or Pratas Islands.
However, Wu was evasive about the Democratic Progressive Party-led government’s claim to sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, hotly disputed between China and Vietnam, or Macclesfield Bank that lies east of the Paracels.
Both of them — known in Taiwan as Xisha and Zhongsha, respectively — were claimed by KMT-led government of Tsai’s predecessor Ma Ying-jeou that ruled Taiwan from 2008 to 2016.
This story was fist posted on the MAINICHI