, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Thread: #HongKong showed #China is a threat to democracy. Now #Europe must defend - Beijing is bullying another democratic neighbour. The EU must stop ignoring authoritarianism for the sake of stability and cash #Taiwan theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
Hong Kong’s administration has backed down over the controversial extradition bill, but the canary in the coalmine of China’s tacit acceptance of democracy is already dead.
Under China’s “one country, two systems” model, Hong Kong was given the guarantee that the freedoms of its citizens would be preserved & respected. Meanwhile, for a long time in the west, the consensus was that, as its economy grew, China would start to look more like Hong Kong.
Regrettably, in recent years the opposite happened & Hong Kong looks more like China by the year. Perhaps we were naive to believe that this erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy was not inevitable. Beijing makes no secret that democracy and Chinese civilisation are incompatible.
The protesters in Hong Kong would beg to differ & I hope they succeed through peaceful means. For democracy activists in Hong Kong & beyond, there is a shining city on the hill: Taiwan. Its one clear example of a Chinese liberal democratic project that thrived in recent years.
In the South China Sea, China is strengthening its military presence. Its violations of Taiwanese air and sea space have escalated to dangerous levels. Beijing’s hostility towards Taipei has intensified since 2016, when Taiwan elected a president who defends Taipei’s sovereignty.
It has stepped up its flights violating Taiwanese airspace, sailing warships in Taiwanese waters, one example in June when China’s aircraft carrier passed through the Taiwan Strait. Taipei is seriously concerned about Chinese interference in Taiwan’s election next year.
To date, Europe has been erratic dealing with China. Some states were eager to jump into bed with Beijing & auction off our democratic values for the promise of an investment boost. They turned a blind eye to Beijing’s human rights abuses at home & bellicosity in its region.
The European Union regularly argues that its foreign policy is based on values, not just short-term interests. If this is the case, we should stand up for these values and defend the largest Chinese democracy from authoritarian pressure.
In Europe, China bullies capitals into accepting its warped viewpoint that Taiwan is just a rebel province. It forces us to deny Taiwan’s access to international forums & feigns outrage if any politicians meet democratically elected representatives of the Taiwanese people.
The new EU leadership should change this approach, and make a stand for democratic self-determination. It should start by meeting Taiwan’s leaders, and moving forward with an investment partnership; and it should no longer be silent when China takes an aggressive posture.
We should stand up for Taiwan’s self-determination and treat it as a fully-fledged member of the alliance of democracies. In a globally interdependent world, failure to defend our values in east Asia and beyond will eventually lead to the erosion of those same values at home.
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