Taiwan is at the centre of America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

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The midterm elections in Taiwan are heated up now, but please don’t forget, related debates in the international arena are also heated up intensely.

At the APEC CEO Summit in a tiny Pacific Island – Papua New Guinea, we have seen intense discussions like those in Taiwan. Why? The debates are not between the Greens and the Blues, but between two completely different values, the democratic value and totalitarian value. This is the choice of Taiwanese against the forces that represent communism in China.

If you vote for the candidates of the Greens, you have chosen to stand for Taiwanese public opinions, its democracy and values. If you vote for China’s representatives, you have chosen to bow to communist China. This is a choice of values.

Same with the APEC meetings, the speech by US Vice President Pence represents the values of freedom and democracy of the United States, on the same channel of Taiwan.

The speech by Xi Jinping represents the values of a totalitarian regime, a value for expansion and bullying other countries.

The speech by Pence was very important. If you don’t read English, you can go to the official site of the US Embassy in China; they have a Chinese translation there. In his speech, Pence tells in full-scale about President Trump’s open and free Indo-Pacific Strategy.

In the past, they called it Asia-Pacific strategy; but this time they call it Indo-Pacific strategy. India is added here; geographically it is on a larger scale with more countries; the US, Japan and India forms a triangle alliance. Now they have Australia and New Zealand in this alliance, in a greater free and democratic front to counter the expansion of communist China in the South China Sea.

I think this is a very important strategy shift of the US government. Pence’s speech is very important, as his remarks represent the state policy of the Trump’s administration. Pence has stressed the importance to protect the Indo-Pacific region. Two thirds of the world’s goods flows occur in this region; half of the world’s population live in this region. This region is so important that the US government must protect its interests here.

US interests in the Indo-Pacific region include its 3 trillion US dollar investment there; US’s investment in this region this year is equal to the total amount of the past three years. The United States pays special attention to economic prosperity in the region, in addition to security.

China’s expansion in the South China Sea has threatened the neighbouring countries. These countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Brunei are very much worried about China’s expansion. The US needs to protect the safety and interests of these nations. That’s why we have seen military investment by the US in this region exceeds US$ 400 million this year.

From the remarks by Mike Pence, we can see the confrontation between the US and communist China in three areas which are not resolvable recently: First, in the South China Sea, the US would request China to remove the missiles and other threatening military facilities on those artificial islands; second, with the trade war, as Vice Present Pence has stressed, China must change its unfair practices before the US makes any changes to its trade policies; third, to China’s expansion by the Belt and Road Initiative, no US president or vice president in APEC’s history has openly condemned China like Mike Pence.

Pence has pointed out that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a “one-way road”, and would “drown partners in a sea of debt.” The US has made it clear that it stands up against this. US has planned to invest US$ 60 billion in the Indo-Pacific region to help those countries there to counter China’s One Belt One Belt strategy, a political and ideological expansion under the pretext of economic assistance.

At the APEC CEO meetings, not just the US, Japan, and India have formed into a triangle alliance; Australia and New Zealand have also joined. And Vice President Pence in particular tells that the US has cooperated with Singapore to “bolster digital defence”. This cooperation means that the US has directed the affairs of Malacca Strait, where over 60% of China’s petrol imports pass every year. With the Strait in control, the US directs the lifeline of China’s energy supply.

If China dares to challenge Taiwan with forces, the US can block its oil supply from the Malacca Strait, and its war against Taiwan is doomed to fail. So in my opinion, US’s cooperation with Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and especially the host Papua New Guinea is very important, “the US will partner with Papua New Guinea and Australia on their joint initiative at Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island,” as Pence has put it. This means US aircraft carriers can sail to this improved naval base in defiance against the expansion of China in the South China Sea.

Pence’s speech has been met with widespread welcome. A US petrol company has announced US$ 1.7 billion investment in Papua New Guinea, just one example. According to my calculation, Pence’s speech has won him 17 times of applauds. Besides leaders from 21 countries and regions, local elites have also expressed their support to this speech.

The wrestling between the US and China at this APEC summit is one between two different values: democracy and totalitarianism. I think Taiwan was doing good this time to send Morris Chang, former chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, to the meeting. No longer James Soong Chu-yu, who would do nothing but talk about the China-friendly or Great China dreams. If he had met with Mike Pence with these words, what do you think Pence would say to him? This time it was good in progress for Morris Chang to talk with Pence on Taiwan-US trade.

With a top US official to hold talks with a representative from Taiwan at the APEC Summit, the first time of its kind, this is a breakthrough in Taiwan-US relations. It also tells the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan which side Taiwan should take in an overall confrontation in politics, economics and security.

It is no doubt that Taiwan should stand by the side of the United States who represents the same values of freedom, and stand by the side of the US allies in the international community who has given the greatest support to Taiwan. This is the only choice for a better Taiwan, the most appropriate choice.

By Cao Changqing
Translation by staff editor

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