China lectures US, courts African ‘friends’ on Taiwan

A pro-Beijing protester stamps on an image depicting the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

A pro-Beijing protester stamps on an image depicting the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a protest outside the US Consulate in Hong Kong on August 3, 2022 after Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on August 2, 2022 as part of a tour of Asia that has inflamed tensions between the US and China.

Photo credit: Peter Parks | AFP

China has continued to lecture the US on the ‘hypocrisy’ of siding with Taiwan even as it asked ‘friends’ across Africa and elsewhere to state an unequivocal stance on the status of the island.

Hua Chunying, the Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry told a press briefing on Friday the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan had violated territorial integrity which Washington itself would never allow on its soil.

“The Taiwan question is not about democracy. It is a major issue of principle about China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US needs to put itself in others’ shoes,” she said.

“If an American state were to secede from the US and declare independence, and then some other nation provided weapons and political support for that state, would the US government — or the American people — allow this to happen?”

Ms Pelosi became the first highest-ranking US government official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. But the trip had been rejected by Beijing, which considers Taiwan its territory and hence not capable of running foreign relations.

Pelosi, the second in line to the White House, after the US Vice President, issued a statement in which she described her tour as a “strong statement that America stands with Taiwan.” She said thet visit is part of broader travels in the Indo-Pacific, focused on security, prosperity and governance, describing on which Taiwan as a global leader on the issues.

The US House Speaker said Taiwan is a very special place and added that America’s solidarity with the people of Taiwan is more important today than ever.

“We came to Taiwan to listen to, learn from and show our support for the people of Taiwan, who have built a thriving democracy that stands as one of the freest and most open in the world.”

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is not a member of the UN, having been replaced by the People’s Republic of China, as China is officially known, in 1971. But while the US and 180 other countries acknowledge Beijing as the capital of China, it has often maintained what it calls unofficial ties with Taiwan, based on a 1979 deal with Beijing.

In the wake of the tussle, however, Beijing asked countries across the world to “unequivocally oppose any act that challenges the One-China principle.

In Africa, some countries already re-declared that stance. Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Saturday it was reiterating “resolute support” for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“The Federal Government of Somalia declares its full solidarity with the People's Republic of China in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity, while affirming its firm position to respect the One-China policy, considering Taiwan an inalienable part of China's territory,” Somalia said in a statement republished by the Chinese Embassy in Mogadishu.

“Let’s continue the good tradition of respecting and supporting each other on issues concerning our respective core interests and major concerns,” the Chinese Embassy in Somalia added.

Somalia is significant because its breakaway region of Somaliland last year established ties with Taiwan, creating a diplomatic outpost in Taipei, something both Somalia and China rejected.

“As far as Uganda is concerned, our position has been very clear," Okello Oryem, Uganda's minister of state in charge of international affairs told Xinhua News Agency on Saturday.

In Africa, China has often lobbied and threatened anyone who tries to establish ties with Taiwan. Only the Kingdom of eSwatini recognises Taiwan.

But while China was asking ‘friends’ in Africa to state the one-china policy, it was in angry mood against Washington. First, it was firing rockets in a drill around Taiwan then the Chinese spokespeople labelled Washington a bully.

In the latest bout of aggression from the Chinese side over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Beijing said the democracy being sought in Taiwan was like “a robe with lice crawling all over it which may look opulent from a distance, but could not stand close scrutiny.”

“We see the empty pledge and so-called strength of this type of democracy from what the US military has done in Iraq and Syria and from its retreat from Kabul,” she added.

Some 27 Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) hours after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane left Taipei.

To China, however, the US needs to look at its own history first.

“They made up various pretexts such as so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction to picture other countries as threats - and sometimes even without any valid reason - to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countries,” she said referring to the Iraqi war after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“From the Capitol Riots, the death of George Floyd, the Robb Elementary School shooting, and America’s over 1 million COVID deaths, we see the hypocrisy and cold-bloodedness of the kind of democracy Pelosi referred to.”

It was unlikely China and US could face off in a war but Beijing thinks China’s 1.4 billion people mean Washington was “playing with fire.”

All along though, Hua denied China was the angry lot. She said that China was forced to “speak” to them in a way and with the “language” that they can understand.

“When the one-China principle is followed, the Taiwan Strait would remain calm and tranquil. When the one-China principle is willfully challenged or even sabotaged, there would be dark clouds or even violent storms across the Taiwan Strait.”