Price tag of Western politicians’ support to DPP: ractopamine pork, economic coercion
Published: Nov 09, 2021 08:09 PM
People on the Taiwan island protest against the lifting of restrictions on the import of US pork containing ractopamine feed additive in Taipei on November 22, 2020. Photo: AFP

People on the Taiwan island protest against the lifting of restrictions on the import of US pork containing ractopamine feed additive in Taipei on November 22, 2020. Photo: AFP

Some Western politicians and elites are keen to praise Taiwan's "democracy." They enjoy hyping-up "threats" the mainland poses to the island. The fact is, however, that the biggest threat to the island comes from the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities who are emboldened by external anti-China forces. In exchange of their support, the DPP authorities have constantly sold out the island's interests. 

The delegation of European Parliament members (MEPs) to Taiwan, headed by radical French MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, ended their three-day trip on Friday. During the visit, the MEPs met Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen as well as Su Tseng-chang and You Si-kun, two senior Taiwan officials who are on the list of separatists released by the mainland on November 5. They reportedly attended a series of roundtables and discussions on disinformation and protection of democracy. Yet they stayed silent on specific issues concerning the vital interests of the people within the island, such as imports of US pork containing ractopamine (an additive banned for pig use in Taiwan island and the EU) and Taiwan chipmaker TSMC's handover of data to the US government. Neither of those anti-China MEPs, nor the Taiwan secessionist forces, actually care about the interests of the Taiwan people. 

Betrayers of the island's interests 

Whether the DPP authorities should reverse its decision of allowing the import of US pork containing ractopamine is among the livelihood topics that the people on the island are now most concerned with. 

Since the Tsai authorities announced in August last year the lifting of a ban on imports of US pork containing growth and leanness agent ractopamine, there have been continuous protests and rallies organized by the people on the island against the decision. Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) has also launched various anti-ractopamine maneuvers. 

To suppress voices of dissent, the DPP authorities claimed opposing ractopamine pork means opposing US pork. This is being done in an attempt to incite the US dissatisfaction with the KMT and exert pressure on the opposition party. On the eve of the MEPs' visit to Taiwan, a KMT official urged Tsai to consult the MEPs over whether the EU's ban on ractopamine pork signifies an anti-US stance by the bloc. 

More than 160 countries and regions have banned ractopamine, including the EU, Russia and the Chinese mainland. The EU has maintained legislation that bans the use of, and the import of, meat from animals treated with growth promoters such as ractopamine. Europe's MEPs are known for being active with the "human rights issues." Glucksmann, the head of the delegation, tweeted the reason he would visit Taiwan is because he would stand with people fighting for democracy and human rights before leaving for the island. If Glucksmann and his fellow MEPs really care about human rights, shouldn't they first pay attention to how the Tsai authorities violate people's most basic human rights - the right to health - by exposing Taiwan people to ractopamine pork? Shouldn't they teach Taiwan about the EU's experience on banning ractopamine meat imports before talking about other topics? 

Besides lifting the ban on imports of US ractopamine pork, another proof of Tsai authorities' betrayal of Taiwan's interest is that they haven't provided any protection for the island's chipmaker TSMC but caved in to the US' demand when TSMC was requested to hand over confidential information to the US. 

The US Department of Commerce on September 23 ordered the world's major semiconductor microchip manufacturers, including TSMC and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co, to provide information on chip inventory and sales within 45 days to tackle the ongoing global chip shortage. Facing the US hegemonic act, the DPP authorities didn't offer any protection to help the enterprise resist the unreasonable request. It instead claimed that they had received assurance from the US that it would not disclose any information that TSMC submits. 

TSMC had to compromise in the end. It announced on Monday that it has responded to Washington's data request. Many of TSMC's customers are in Europe. When the MEPs were in Taiwan, did they question the Tsai authorities about how they would protect the data of TSMC's European clients from being leaked and used by the US?  

"For its own political interests, the DPP authorities disregard the interests of Taiwan and put DPP's interests above those of the entire island, the health and safety of the Taiwan people as well as the interests of Taiwan enterprises," said Zhang Hua, an associate research fellow of the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Zhang emphasized that the DPP authorities' purpose is to seek courtship with and show their loyalty to the US. "In order to exchange for US support, the DPP authorities are willing to sacrifice and betray Taiwan's interests," Zhang said. 

Western politicians: Holding a candle to the devil

Ridiculously, such an authority that disregards people's safety and sells out the island's interests has bee

n touted as "a democracy model" by some Western politicians and elites. Yes, the opposition KMT and Taiwan people protested vehemently against the import of ractopamine pork, but does the Biden administration bother to care? What about the MEPs?

After Tsai authorities decided to lift the ban on US ractopamine pork, Antony Blinken, then a foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, hailed Taiwan's move to lift trade barriers as good for American farmers, ranchers and US economy on Twitter. He didn't mention that the benefits to US farmers and economy came at the cost of Taiwan people's health. 

Western countries, politicians and elites don't care about the island's livelihood and its people's interests at all. Japan has donated millions of doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan since June. This was touted by the Tsai authorities as a sign of friendship and support to the island. But the donation arrived at the island despite concerns about reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients. Japan itself didn't approve the domestic use of AstraZeneca vaccines for people aged 40 and above in principle until late July due to a supply shortage of vaccines. By mid-October, Taiwan's death toll had surpassed 650 after receiving AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccination. 

When it comes to Taiwan people's wellbeing, so-called Western support to Taiwan is meaningless, Yuan Zheng, a deputy director and senior fellow of the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. There is no doubt that the more the DPP colludes with external forces to confront the mainland, the more Taiwan people's interests will be sacrificed for political ends.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn