Editorial: Philippines and the China-Taiwan tension

·3 min read

United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a de facto democratic country that’s officially known as Republic of China (ROC), has angered the authoritarian People’s Republic of China (PRC), further straining the US-PRC diplomatic relations.

The Global Times, an English-language newspaper under Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper the People’s Daily, ran an editorial on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, slamming the United States’ No. 3 official. It said the influential lawmaker’s visit has put Taiwan in a “powder keg,” and it “has confirmed to the world that the US is the biggest destroyer of cross-Straits (sic) peace. Any countermeasure that China adopts is justified and necessary. This will objectively accelerate China’s reunification process.”

The tension between China and Taiwan is not new. The PRC has long been claiming Taiwan as its breakaway province, and it has been aiming for a reunification by whatever means necessary. Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang-led ROC fled to Taiwan in 1949 after their defeat in the hands of Mao Zedong’s Communist army in the civil war.

There have been at least three crises in the Taiwan Strait right after the Korean War in the 1950s up to the mid-1990s. Experts have said Pelosi’s visit on Tuesday, Aug. 2 could have precipitated the “fourth crisis.” Ahead of her visit, American and Chinese military forces ramped up their activities near Taiwan. Then the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command started its joint air and sea operations near Taiwan minutes after the plane carrying Pelosi and her delegation landed in Taipei. Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported on Wednesday, Aug. 3, that the digital signage of several convenience stores and government facilities across the country were hacked, showing messages slandering Pelosi. A message from some 7-Eleven branches’ digital bulletin reportedly reads, “War monger (sic) Pelosi, get out of Taiwan.” The country’s Criminal Investigation Bureau has been gathering more evidence to identify people behind the unknown Internet Protocol addresses.

The Philippines has not been spared by the geopolitical controversy created by Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Ahead of the American legislator’s travel, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian had reminded Malacañang to “strictly abide” by the One-China policy.

Just like the United States, the Philippines has official diplomatic ties with the PRC, but it also has unofficial ties with Taiwan, mostly on the economic side.

As this China-Taiwan issue is very complicated and sensitive, Malacañang has demurred. Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles was quoted as saying, “There is no reaction” to the Chinese ambassador’s reminder. “Usually, when it’s matters of international relations, we take time to study the matter and do not react immediately,” she said, adding that “loose words might affect relationships” and it could be “very difficult to rebuild.”

On Thursday, Aug. 4, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, “The Philippines adheres to the One-China policy,” but it urged “restraint by all parties concerned,” obviously the PRC, Taiwan and the US. “Diplomacy and dialogue must prevail.”

With the DFA’s statement, one could say the Philippines is really walking on eggshells in the China-Taiwan tension. To side with Taiwan, the Philippines could earn China’s ire and it could further experience bullying from the Asian behemoth in the West Philippine Sea and other possible economic repercussions. The DFA is wise in saying that diplomacy must be used to resolve conflict and misunderstanding—the world cannot afford another war.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting