As Taiwan loses allies, we must be wary of desperate moves
Published: May 27, 2018 10:33 PM

In the latest blow to the Taiwan authorities, the West Africa nation of Burkina Faso severed its "diplomatic" relationship with the island and established diplomatic ties with Beijing two days later. The break left Taiwan with only 18 allies around the world.

Taiwan has lost four since Tsai Ing-wen's election in early 2016. The decision of these countries to cut ties with the island was made after gauging the strength of the two sides across the Straits and the future of the Taiwan authorities. If the Tsai authorities continue denying the one-China policy, it's believed sooner or later their remaining allies will follow suit, proactively breaking with the island and choosing to get on board the fast train of mainland development. The day the number of Taiwan's allies hits zero is not far off.

More countries are welcomed to end ties with the island and establish diplomatic relations with Beijing. While at the same time, the mainland needs to be vigilant against Taiwan independence forces making a final desperate plunge.

Losing allies could be used by independence forces to win more sympathetic support from the Taiwanese public. Tsai lashed out at Beijing after Burkina Faso's desertion, saying the mainland "touched Taiwan society's bottom line" and her authorities would "no longer tolerate this." Her goal was rather clear - to portray a depressing image of Taiwan being "suppressed" by Beijing and fan anti-mainland sentiments within the island.

Vigilance is also needed against the US providing more assistance for Taiwan's attempt to join international organizations. According to Taiwan media, one day after Burkina Faso's announcement of ending ties with Taiwan, Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Senator Edward J. Markey introduced a bill aimed at developing a policy for the US to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations. Gardner, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, added Taipei to his official tour of Asia on Saturday to lend support to Taiwan. The US, the EU and Japan also expressed their support for Taiwan participating in the World Health Organization and its assembly.

The mainland must be prepared to deal with such pressure from other major powers. It must also mull over how to prevent Taiwan independence forces cajoling sympathy to fan anger within the island. After all, independence still has a certain amount of support among the Taiwan public.

A detailed plan should be made to deal with independence forces step by step and not give them a break. The mainland should also prepare for reunifying Taiwan by force while making continuous efforts to seek a peaceful reunification. Beijing will never allow any separatists to split Taiwan from the country. The Tsai authorities had better return to the correct track of abiding by the 1992 consensus, not misjudge the situation and not push things into a worst-case scenario.

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