By Chris Fry
On March 25, the government of Honduras, under the leadership of President Xiomara Castro, switched recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China (PRC):
The Honduran foreign ministry said on Saturday that “the government of Honduras recognizes the existence of just one China in the world”.
“And the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China,” it said.
“Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory,” it added.
The Honduran foreign minister announced the change over local television, and told the Taiwan delegation that they had 30 days to empty their embassy and get out.
Since Taiwan’s pro-independence “President” Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, nine countries have broken relations with the Taiwan regime and switched recognition to the PRC. (Taiwan’s “president” is in quotes because the PRC does not recognize Taiwan’s government.) This is all in defiance of U.S. imperialism, which switched recognition to the PRC in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, but has pressured countries under its dominance to continue to recognize Taiwan as China, a contrived fiction to diplomatically undermine the PRC. That strategy continues to fail, even while the U.S. and its imperialist allies mobilize for war against China.
Taiwan’s “Sunflower Movement”: A copy of the U.S. sponsored coup in Ukraine.
Many activists opposed to the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine know about the U.S.-financed and coordinated coup in Ukraine in February 2014 that led to the occupation of the parliament building, the seizure of the executive building, and the overthrow of the elected government of President Yanukovych. This led to a violent attack on the ethnic Russian community, which sparked a civil war that cost 14,000 lives up until the Russian intervention in February 2022.
But what’s much less known is Taiwan’s “Sunflower Movement” in March 2014, just weeks after the Ukraine coup, which also saw a mob occupation of Taiwan’s parliament building and a violent attempt to seize the executive building. This occupation torpedoed a key commercial agreement between Taiwan and the PRC and orchestrated the election of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai in 2016 , causing the removal of the Kuomintang (KMT) “President” Ma Ying-jeou, who had concluded significant negotiations and agreements with the PRC since 2008.
Did the U.S. sponsor this movement in Taiwan? Much of imperialism’s role is not known, particularly since there has been no U.S. embassy in Taiwan since 1979. But there is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Taiwan called the “American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)”, which functions just like an embassy:
The international press by and large treated the Sunflower Student Movement as just another Taiwan protest, when it bothered to report on this act of civil disobedience at all. But the U.S. diplomatic community was following it closely, albeit quietly.
Along with the student occupiers of the parliament building, press reports indicate there were a large number of NGO members.
In June 2014, the “Umbrella Movement” was fomented in Hong Kong, with students and businessmen organized to end the PRC joint selection of Hong Kong’s leadership. In September, marchers tried to take over Hong Kong’s executive building, but were repulsed by police.
When PRC arrested suspected businessmen accused of corruption, many of the Umbrella Movement activists led the 2019 “recolonization” violent uprising in Hong Kong.
President Obama made his famous “Pivot to Asia” speech before the Australian Parliament in November 2011. But before then, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authored an October 11 2011 article for the department’s Foreign Policy magazine, titled “America’s Pacific Century – The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.”:
As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region.
By “otherwise”, of course, Clinton meant “military”:
Asia’s remarkable economic growth over the past decade and its potential for continued growth in the future depend on the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military, including more than 50,000 American servicemen and servicewomen serving in Japan and South Korea. The challenges of today’s rapidly changing region—from territorial and maritime disputes to new threats to freedom of navigation to the heightened impact of natural disasters—require that the United States pursue a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable force posture.
We are modernizing our basing arrangements with traditional allies in Northeast Asia—and our commitment on this is rock solid—while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean. For example, the United States will be deploying littoral combat ships to Singapore, and we are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together. And the United States and Australia agreed this year to explore a greater American military presence in Australia to enhance opportunities for more joint training and exercises. We are also looking at how we can increase our operational access in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region and deepen our contacts with allies and partners.
Clinton never mentioned China by name, but it is clear that socialist China is not one of U.S. imperialism’s “allies and partners.” And Clinton, along with Joe Biden and Victoria Nuland, was one of the main behind-the-scenes actors of the Ukraine coup, and quite likely became involved in these ant-China “movements” in the region.
Two international trips show Taiwan’s capitalist division.
On March 29, current Taiwan “President” Tsai is traveling to Belize and Guatemala, two of only twelve countries (plus the Vatican) that still recognize Taiwan after the abrupt switch by Honduras to recognize the PRC.
Tsai is then scheduled to travel to Los Angeles, where she will meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and then to New York. Of course, the PRC objects to this trip as an obvious violation of the 1979 “One China” agreement with the U.S.
At the same time, Taiwan’s “ex-President” Ma is on an “unofficial” 12-day trip to the PRC, first to Shanghai and then on to several other cities. He will also visit his ancestral graves in Hunan Province. As a March 27 New York Times article describes the two trips:
“Ma underlining his familial roots in China at the precise moment when Tsai is highlighting U.S.-Taiwan ties will provide very contrasting visuals, and influence Taiwanese voters’ perception of where Taiwan’s two main political parties stand on U.S.-China relations,” said Wen-Ti Sung, a political scientist at the Australian National University’s Taiwan Studies Program. “Having served as Taiwan’s president for eight years, his every move will carry political significance, whether he likes it or not.”
As in all capitalist “democracies”, “Taiwanese voters’ perception” means the different views of Taiwan’s ruling class.
Since 1949, Taiwan’s capitalist class has been protected by the military might of the U.S. Navy patrolling off of China’s coast. But with the fantastic economic and technical development by the PRC to where it is now the second most powerful country in the world, and with the PRC becoming Taiwan’s most important trading partner, a split has emerged in Taiwan’s business “community.”
Tsai’s DPP, which has ruled the island since 2016, officially declared that it disregards the 1991 “One China” agreement with the PRC and wishes to declare the island an independent country, allied with and protected by U.S. imperialism.
Ma’s KMT, equally hostile to the PRC’s socialist foundation but against independence, made the 1991 agreement and signed several commercial and social pacts with the PRC until it was removed from office in 2016.
In the 2022 local election in Taiwan, the DPP campaigned on its pro-independence platform, and was trounced at the ballot box by the KMT candidates. Why has the KMT “accommodating to the PRC” position now become more popular to the island residents, including its bourgeoisie?
Trump and then Biden sharply escalated U.S. imperialism’s aggressive campaign of tariffs, sanctions, and military threats against China. Pentagon generals have proclaimed that war with the PRC is inevitable in the next few years. And Taiwan would be in the center of that war, threatening death and destruction for its 23 million residents.
Taiwan’s TSMC corporation has the most advanced computer chip research facility and staff in the world and is an integral part of the world network of computer chip manufacturing generating huge profits.
While Congress and Biden passed legislation for establishing supposed U.S. computer processor “self-sufficiency”, Biden has targeted U.S., and through coercion, international sanctions against China’s computer industry, including by TSMC, in order to deliberately hamstring China’s technical development.
Not satisfied with that, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence are prepared to destroy the TSMC facility:
The United States would destroy Taiwan’s highly sophisticated semiconductor industry rather than allow it to be captured if China ever successfully invaded the island, according to Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor.
The real question is: Would Washington destroy the TSMC facility if a new Taiwan regime works out a peaceful agreement recognizing PRC sovereignty over Taiwan along with local governance of some kind,something along the lines of “one country, two systems” used for Hong Kong?
“The United States and its allies are never going to let those factories fall into Chinese hands,” Ambassador Robert O’Brien told me during a conversation airing today at the Global Security Forum organized by the Soufan Center in Doha, Qatar.
The bulk of the world’s most advanced microchips are produced in Taiwanese facilities owned by TSMC. Gaining control of those plants would make China “like the new OPEC of silicon chips” and allow them to “control the world economy,” O’Brien said.
“Now let’s face it, that’s never going to happen,” he said.
Taiwan’s business leaders, learning the lesson from Biden’s Ukraine proxy war, can now see just how dangerous it is to ally itself with U.S. imperialism, which is perfectly satisfied to destroy its allies and upend the world’s technical development just to keep its own global hegemony.
While no one can predict the outcome of Taiwan’s January 2024 “presidential” election, it is clear that Washington will pull out all stops to prevent Taiwan reaching any accommodation with the PRC, even to the point of sparking a war before that election or engineering a “coup” before or after it to overturn the outcome.