Like-minded countries must unite their efforts as brothers or perish together as failures

  • 2023-04-24
  • Andrew H.C. Lee, Representative of Taipei Mission in the Republic of Latvia

After a lengthy meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip, French President Emmanuel Macron made a remarks in an interview on his plane to wrap up three-day state visit to China. President Macron touched upon the issues of transatlantic relations and Taiwan by saying that Europe should not become a “vassal” and must avoid being drawn into any conflict between the US and China over Taiwan. 

As a key stakeholder and party concerned, it is imperative for Taiwan to clarify misconceptions and misleading cognitions that might arise surrounding the remarks.

Lessons drawn from WWI & II

Lessons we learned from World War I and II is that appeasement does not lead to peace, but only increases aggressor's appetite; peace and democracy is not freely given; war must be avoided at all costs and democracies must prevail against aggression. Mindset and methodology of “Mind my/your own business” is always the most convenient and cheapest choice. Like-minded countries and democratic allies should work together to resist that choice.

As a result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing assertiveness and ambition at both regional and global levels, and both countries forming a “no-limits” partnership, the global geopolitical situation has drastically changed, and existing rules-based international order has been greatly challenged. 

The geopolitical landscape in both Europe and Asia and the world order is heading into uncharted territory. Under such circumstance, without solidarity, timely counter measures and effective management from the like-minded countries and democratic allies, the efforts of making a rules-based world community sustaining peace, security, development, and prosperity would end up with a failure. 

Russia and China are major sources of multifaceted threats 

In the past decades, Russia has imposed a series of challenges by invading Georgia and Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and launching repeated cyberattacks on other countries and physical attacks on Russian dissidents abroad. Besides, Russia's geostrategic assertiveness and military aggression continues to rise posing a growing threat to NATO and European countries. 

While countries in the regions of Nordic region, Central and Eastern Europe being under threat by Russia, what’s happening in the other part of the world equally deserves special attention. China has long been a major transgressor and a global menace that steals intellectual property, maintains illegal subsidies, imposes economic coercion, engages in systematic theft of intellectual property and brazen cyber intrusions, carries out disinformation campaign and genocide, repeatedly conducts military exercises against Taiwan. Furthermore, China has fully militarized most of the artificial islands it built in the disputed South China Sea, arming them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, and fighter jets in an increasingly aggressive manner that threatens all nations operating nearby, and jeopardizes the free flow of international trade and freedom of navigation. 

In the last decade, bilateral relations between China and Russia relations have developed tremendously. Both countries have long shared similar geopolitical aims, including establishing a multi-polar world and the curbing of NATO's military might. What most alarming lies underneath is probably their shared viewpoint and mutual, long-standing distrust of the West. This has become a hotbed for them to forge a political partnership, military alliance, and realizing common ambition. 

When the lips are gone, how can the teeth not feel chill´╝č

With the main interest of weakening the US-EU-led international order, China and Russia have also tried to bend and reshape international institutions, rules, and norms in their preferred directions, aligned with their goals and norms.  In such an increasingly insecure world, Europe, the US and other like-minded countries should sponsor a renewal and enhancement of rules-based multilateralism as a counterweight to what might turn out to be a volatile and chaotic international framework dominated by authoritarian regimes. Today global freedom and democratic system face a dire threat posed by Russia, China and other rogue nations. Democracy’s opponents have labored persistently to dismantle the existing international order and the restraints it imposed on their ambitions. The leaders of China, Russia, and other dictatorships have succeeded in shifting global incentives, jeopardizing the consensus that democracy is the only viable path to prosperity and security, while encouraging more authoritarian approaches to governance. 

This fully explains that geopolitical situations between Europe and Asia are highly correlated in many ways, and peace, security, economic growth and prosperity in the two regions actually go hand in hand.  As an old saying in our society goes: “When the lips are gone, how can the teeth not feel cold” (chuen-wang-tzi-han) !

Asking turkey to vote for Christmas 

Aggressors and bullies, benefitting from our inaction and dissension, and growing over our appeasement will at the end come back to haunt us.

China has been using its market and economic might to create tensions among European Union member states and drive a wedge between the US and Europe. Asking for mercy and cooperation from China on the issues of Ukraine and Taiwan, would be like asking turkey to vote for Christmas, or asking tiger for its fur. 

It is also plain wrong to equate aggressor Russia and bully China with guardian U.S. on the war in Ukraine and scenario in Taiwan. It is that mistaken mentality that is pressing for a false peace based on the current occupied territories in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as trying to stay neutral on the Taiwan issue. In the facing of the false appearance of “two equal sides” of a dispute, it is important not to stand idly by while such misperception and misleading cognition keeps on spreading.

In view of the authoritarian regimes’ growing ambition and military threat, it’s extremely important for the like-minded countries and democratic allies to stand together displaying coherence and solidarity. In his speech in March 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. said it this way, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Look at where we are and what we are dealing with nowadays, to follow this line of thought, it’s very true that like-minded countries must unite their efforts as brothers or perish together as failures.