Taiwan elections: U.S. beats the war drums despite the vote

U.S. warships a provocation to China as they patrol the Taiwan straits
U.S. warships a provocation to China as they patrol the Taiwan straits.

By Chris Fry

When the election results for Taiwan’s president and legislature were announced on January 13, the U.S. corporate media seemed jubilant. Three parties competed for president: The ruling pro-Taiwan-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the nationalist opponent of independence Kuomintang Party (KMT), and another opponent of Taiwan independence, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

All three are bourgeois parties reflecting a split in Taiwan’s business class. Although there were several domestic issues raised in the campaign, the main issue was and is relations with mainland China. The People’s Republic of China has always maintained that Taiwan is in fact a province of China, and that the goal of the PRC is “peaceful unification.”

However, just as Abraham Lincoln waged war against the enslavers’ Confederacy to prevent its “separation” from the Union, so China has asserted the right to use force if necessary to prevent Taiwan’s “Independence.”

Taiwan belongs to all the people of China, including all of its provinces, not just residents of that island. Recognition of that fact forced the U.N. to expel Taiwan as a separate nation, and even forced the U.S. to recognize China as “one country” in 1979. But U.S. imperialism has continued to bully dependent countries to continue to recognize Taiwan as China, and continues to supply Taiwan with massive shipments of weapons and military “trainers.”

A January 20 Wall Street Journal article proclaimed: “China’s Strongest Ally in Taiwan Is Weaker Than Ever.” The article states that the KMT was losing its hold on the island “as more Taiwanese embrace a local identity separate from China and reject the KMT’s perceived coziness with Beijing.”

Yet further down that same article, the WSJ had to provide the actual election results in Taiwan that give a far different picture. In 2020, the DPP presidential candidate won 57 percent of the vote. In 2024, he won only 40 percent of the vote. The two other parties, both of whom oppose the call for independence, combined for 60 percent of the vote, with 33.5 going to the KMT candidate and 26.5 percent to that of  the TPP.

The DPP also fared badly in the legislative elections. Before, they held the majority with 61 seats in the 113-seat legislature. They lost 10 seats in the vote, while the KMT now has 52 seats to the DPP’s 51, with two independents lining up with the KMT. And the TPP won eight seats, giving the two opposition parties effective control.

On the international scene, two days after the election, the small Pacific Island nation of Nauru switched recognition from Taiwan to the PRC. And another island nation, Tuvalu, just elected a prime minister who campaigned on the promise of switching recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China.

In Central America, the recently elected president of Guatemala, Bernardo Arevalo, faces a cruel choice. On the one hand, he campaigned with the promise of switching recognition to the PRC from Taiwan in order to develop his desperately poor country, devastated by global warming causing a cycle of droughts and floods.

On the other hand, that same devastation has forced thousands of Guatemalans to migrate to the U.S., 220,000 in 2022 alone. Arevalo is trying to get work permits for these people from the Biden administration, which has now taken an openly hostile view, just like the Trumpist Republicans, towards migrants.

So far, Arevalo has been unable to carry out the switch to the PRC because of this.

Despite enormous U.S. pressure, only 11 countries now recognize Taiwan as a nation, including the Vatican, a “nation” consisting of the residence of the Roman Catholic pope.

All in all, during the eight years of the pro-independence rule of the DPP in Taiwan, ten countries switched recognition from that island to the People’s Republic.

China-Taiwan relations in flux

All three Taiwan parties are hostile to the PRC and are enemies of socialism. But before the DPP took power in 2016, the KMT government, while maintaining the absurd fiction that it was the legitimate government of all of China, agreed with the People’s Republic on the “one China” principle, so they were able reach a series of important economic agreements with the PRC.

China and its city Hong Kong became Taiwan’s top trading partners, and many social and cultural agreements were reached as well.

But in 2014, the U.S. engineered a “recolonization” campaign in Hong Kong, aiming to tear that former British colony (a war prize from the first Western Opium War) away from China. China’s successful effort to prevent that frightened Taiwan’s ruling class. So it switched its support to the pro-independence DPP and called on the U.S. for increased military backing.

The U.S. obliged by sending its fleet into waters just offshore of China and Taiwan and began a steady series of provocations. Taiwan became the “linchpin” of U.S. imperialism’s effort to effect “regime change” in China itself, which has made a steady turn to the left since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012.

The U.S. beats the drums of war, but no echo in Taiwan or the PRC.

Despite the weakening position of the DPP from these elections, the U.S. corporate media has stepped its campaign to mobilize the population here for war against China. Here is just a sample:

  • February 1, The Guardian, “A race against time’: Taiwan strives to root out China’s spies.”
  • January 25, Benzinga, “Amid Tensions With China, US Navy Sends First Warship Through Taiwan    Strait Post-Election.”
  • January 27, NY Times, “What Worries Me About War With China After My Visit to Taiwan.”
  • February 7, NBC, “Chinese hackers spent 5 years waiting in US infrastructure, ready to attack, agencies say.”
  • February 8, Newsweek, “‘China’s Spies Hacked NATO Ally’s Defenses’, Official Says.”
  •  February 9, Newsweek, “US and Japan Fight China in Allied War Game.”
  • February 9, GB News, “China opens Antarctic base right next to US site as Americans fear it could be used for espionage.” (Some of those penguins could be Chinese spies.)

But the response by the Chinese government and military to the elections in Taiwan has been far more restrained. For example, during her 2022 visit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi openly tried to incite the DPP government to declare Taiwan’s “independence,” which would have the island become a “Ukraine-style proxy” in a conflict with China. China’s navy and air force responded with a show of strength.

Many polls along with these election results show that most Taiwan’s residents see any calls by the DPP for “independence” as a threat to peace and their livelihood. Efforts by the U.S. to stop the reunification process between Taiwan and the PRC, just like the U.S. efforts to force regime change on the Chinese people, are bound to fail.

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