Time for world to stand up to China’s ‘hegemonic’ sharp power


Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (left) called on the international community to “constrain” China by standing up for freedoms, casting her island’s giant neighbor as a global threat to democracy. Her comments in an exclusive interview with AFP on Monday June 25:

“This is not just Taiwan’s challenge, it is a challenge for the region and the world as a whole, because today it’s Taiwan, but tomorrow it may be any other country that will have to face the expansion of China’s influence,” Ms Tsai told AFP. “Their democracy, freedom, and freedom to do business will one day be affected by China.”

“We need to work together to reaffirm our values of democracy and freedom in order to constrain China and also minimize the expansion of their hegemonic influence,” she added.

Speaking at an event celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), President Tsai urged like-minded countries such as Australia and the U.S. to work together in defiance of the anti-democratic tide that is emerging throughout the world, the Taiwan News reports:

“Our shared values like law, freedom of speech, and human rights are being challenged around the world,” remarked the President in front of a number of Taiwanese and foreign scholars, including Carl Gershman, (left), president of the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy. “It is only when like-minded countries work together and stand together can we fight against unwanted economic, political, or military forces and defend the values we hold dear,” said the president. 

She went on to address the challenges facing Taiwan and other democracies, saying that “while democracy can move forward, it can also regress.” “In the 21st century, democracy is in retreat,” according to Tsai, who cited a report by Freedom House that said this year marks the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

Tsai cited a National Endowment for Democracy report which examines how China and Russia use “sharp power” to project their influence.

China’s worst enemy is that it does not genuinely embrace democracy and freedom and Taiwan, which does so, will not be its enemy, former President Lee Teng-hui said on Sunday in Japan:

China has become an assertive player on economic, political, military, and technological fronts, but it has been seen as a hegemony, not a civilized country upholding the ideas of democracy and freedom, Lee said…..China has become the “most destabilizing factor” in Asia and has caused disturbances that threaten the security of countries in the region.

Beijing coined the term “Chinese Dream” to promote the idea of a “Greater China,” but it has also employed the phrase of “1992 consensus” to uphold its “one China” principle to suppress the development of Taiwan, Lee said. China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” project will turn many of the countries into “economic colonies of China,” he added.

President Tsai’s sentiments echoed the concerns of Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who warned of the threat to liberal democracy and global security from a dictatorial China that failed to democratize but grew in power economically and militarily. He observed that “the great powers in human history that rose as dictatorships – …Hitler’s Germany, the Meiji Emperor’s Japan, and Stalin’s Soviet Union – all eventually collapsed, and in doing so brought disaster to human civilization.”   And Liu warned that “if the Communists succeed in…leading China down a disastrously mistaken historical road, the results will not only be another catastrophe for the Chinese people but likely also a disaster for the spread of liberal democracy in the world.”

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