In his 30 June article, Mr Earl Bousquet made reference to the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its bearing on the future of Caribbean-China ties. The article quite captures the CCP’s worldview and how the party sees itself in relation to the world.
It would be remiss not to consider this topic holistically. To see China clearly requires looking through the lens of the international community. Most significant are the accounts from neighbouring countries that have borne the brunt of China’s constant coercions, threats, and even territorial encroachments over the years.
The example du jour, of course, is Hong Kong. I would like to stress that the so-called “One China” concept, the same concept that has seen Hong Kong people’s freedom and basic human rights infringed, is not only contrary to history and fact but also has no appeal in Taiwan.
Taiwanese people enjoy air fresh with freedom and fragrant with democracy. The omnipresent totalitarianism, constant control of opinions, and arbitrary infringements on people’s freedom to believe or even to think which characterise the CCP governing strategy choke the lungs of liberty and expression.
China’s suppression of human rights in Hong Kong and the draconian ethnic cleansing measures in the Uighur region of Xing Jing are just recent manifestations of the CCP’s undemocratic and inhumane nature. Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the CCP has kept a firm grip on the hearts and minds of its people through suffocating micromanagement.
Call it “democracy with Chinese characteristics” or otherwise, no euphemism can mask the fact that the PRC is a “one-party state” with no free elections and no freedom of association. Political parties and civil organisations are subject to CCP monitoring and used as a façade to camouflage the Chinese people’s lack of free will in an Orwellian society.
I beseech you to consider the sharp distinction between the Taiwanese model of international cooperation and development, which emphasises ownership, participation and sustainable development of host countries, and the Chinese “debt-trap diplomacy,” which aims at appropriation of natural resources and vital infrastructure.
On the one hand are China’s seizures of the port in South Asia and of oil production in South American countries. And on the other, here in fair Helen, are the worthy projects Taiwan has worked on with the government of Saint Lucia since diplomatic ties were resumed in 2007.
Our mutual efforts span agriculture, technology, education, and still more. We are enhancing production and supply chain of the fruit, vegetable, and banana industry, providing free WiFi access to communities through the GiNet project, modernising school teaching environment through the ICT in Education project, not to mention working on the so-called “ti cannelle projects,” namely Constituency Development Projects (CDP) which have improved people’s access to economic opportunity and various communities’ climate resilience.
For a comparison of what China can offer, one need not go far. A trip to the dilapidated stadium in Vieux Fort would suffice.
Taiwan is proud to be a friend of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as we work together to encourage lasting opportunity, security, prosperity and peace for all peoples. This past year we have stood together against the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recent chapter in Taiwan’s pandemic experience makes a fitting note on which to close.
Taiwan’s pandemic prevention efforts have been hindered by difficulty in obtaining vaccines as a result of China’s deliberate obstruction. Thankfully, due to the efforts of the Taiwanese government and generous contributions by true friends such as Japan, the United States and Lithuania, Taiwan has secured millions of doses of Oxford AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines and begun the first wave of a major vaccination drive.
When it comes to public health, only science and the people’s will count. Politics should be set aside. The New York Times and scholastic reports have shown a troubling trend of unexpected spikes of COVID-19 cases following en masse inoculations of Chinese vaccines.
Repeated opinion polls in Taiwan show that people do not trust Chinese vaccines. Reasonable, as the Chinese authorities have repeatedly gone to extremes to hide facts about the efficacy of their vaccines as well as the origin of the pandemic.
The Taiwan government’s power is derived from the people. It would be a nightmare to the very soul of Taiwanese democracy that the people’s will be ignored. And those are the facts!