The World Health Assembly (WHA) will soon take place. In the meantime, the G7 communique mentioned Taiwan for the first time at the end of its foreign ministers’ meeting. The unprecedented move was followed by France’s Senate, which unanimously passed a resolution with a vote of 304-0 supporting Taiwan’s participation in the international organizations. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken voiced support for Taiwan in a press statement. Although Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as an observer remains uncertain at this stage due to China’s obstruction, Western countries are gradually breaking their self-imposed restrictions, and openly standing behind Taiwan is a key to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. President Tsai Ing-wen’s government should closely associate with the pro-Taiwan allies to form a strong defense for Taiwan’s security.
The Economist’s cover story has recently listed Taiwan as the most dangerous place on earth. Taiwan, of course, should raise its awareness of the cross-Strait crisis and demonstrate its will to defend itself. However, Taiwan does not need to overreact as international support is fast building up and can act as another protective umbrella to safeguard Taiwan.
Anti-China and the pro-Taiwan sentiment is spreading worldwide
The world, especially the countries of great influence, used to follow the “one China policy” principle and maintain self-imposed restrictions on their contact with Taiwan to avoid offending China. But we have seen a great change. For the first time, the G7 communique mentions the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. It reiterates strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability. It also openly supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in World Health Organization and the World Health Assembly. The unprecedented move marks a great step towards lifting self-imposed restrictions on their contact with Taiwan. More pro-Taiwan actions by leading countries are expected in the future.
Though the U.S. is still in a debate over whether to stick to strategic ambiguity or opt for clarity toward Taiwan, the U.S.-led powers have introduced a number of pro-Taiwan measures while China continues its “wolf-warrior diplomacy” and more of its warplanes are flying over Taiwan’s airspace as Taiwan’s economy and democracy are globally recognized. The unusual moves from the major powers show that open support for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is in the best interests of all parties under the U.S.-China competition.
The Japanese government, for example, has been under attack for being too weak toward China. But in a joint statement after the Biden-Suga summit, both leaders reaffirmed for the first time since 1969 the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait.
French Senate also showed overwhelming support for Taiwan. Despite knowing that it would trigger Beijing’s anger, the French Senate voted 304 to 0 to adopt a resolution backing Taiwan’s participation in global organizations, suggesting a high degree of consensus among all parties in France. The unusual pro-Taiwan bill highlights the successful efforts of Taiwan’s representatives to France and a shifting climate where anti-China and pro-Taiwan sentiment is on the rise.
Expanding international space for Taiwan’s survival
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmes also expressed her support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and called on Beijing and Taipei to work out a solution. In a media interview, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that if China invaded Taiwan by force, Australia would “honor its alliance with the U.S. and its arrangement in the Indo-Pacific region.” His remarks imply that Australia will not rule out sending troops to help defend Taiwan, another sign that global pro-Taiwan sentiment is rising.
China will surely keep its suppression of Taiwan’s global standing, despite the growing calls from around the world for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations. There is no guarantee we can attend WHA as an observer this year. Blocked by Beijing, it is even less likely for Taiwan to participate in the WHO, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and beyond.
But the government should continue to break new ground on the diplomatic front as Taiwan’s bid to participate in international agencies is to protect the basic human rights of the people on the island, make a contribution to the globe, expand its international space, and ensure its security. Indeed, for the time being, Taiwan’s prospect to join the aforementioned international organizations is slim. But it can ride on this changing tide and connect Taiwan’s security with the interests of the countries with a stake.
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