Fighting the CCP’s Diplomatic Warfare Against Taiwan

CommentaryOn May 13, President Joe Biden signed a bill to direct the secretary of state to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO). Why is this significant? A definition of diplomatic warfare is the use of diplomacy to influence international bodies (such as the United Nations), other nations, and domestic audiences to support a course of action that benefits one nation while impairing another country. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to use diplomatic warfare to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world to the point that no country will recognize and come to assist it in times of crisis. Below are examples of how the United States pushed back on the CCP’s diplomatic warfare against Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC). Taiwan would like to participate in international discussions, at a minimum, in the following five organizations: International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), WHO, and World Health Assembly (WHA)—a WHO decision-making body. Taiwan was a member of INTERPOL between 1961 and 1984 until China joined INTERPOL and lobbied the members to remove Taiwan. Today, the CCP prevents Taiwan from having any meaningful participation in all U.N. organizations. For example, Taiwan was an observer member of WHO from 1998 to 2016, when CCP-Taiwan relations were “acceptable” to the communists. The CCP appears to be punishing Taiwan (using diplomatic warfare) for electing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). According to the bill, “Statehood is not a requirement for attendance at the WHA, and numerous observers, including non-members and non-governmental organizations, attended the most recent virtual WHA in May 2020.” The CCP prevented Taiwan from attending by making attendance conditional on Taiwan agreeing to the CCP’s “One China” principle, which denies Taiwan its existence. Why should Taiwan be able to attend? First, Taiwan has provided over $6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid since 1996, impacting over 80 countries. Second, had the WHO taken the advice of Taiwan early during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the world would have known about the danger of COVID early on and taken preventive measures to stop the spread of the disease, saving lives. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, initiated the Senate Bill 812 on March 17, 2021. Menendez was one of five U.S. Senators who visited Taiwan on April 14–15, 2022. Three other lawmakers co-sponsored the bill: Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) gives an opening statement on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 23, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images) The Senate passed the bill with unanimous consent, and the House of Representatives voted 425-0 in favor of the bill (75 Republican Representatives and 53 Democratic Representatives co-sponsored the House bill HR 1145). Biden approved the bill on May 13. Congress and the president sent a clear unanimous message to Taiwan, the CCP, and the rest of the world that the United States is fed up with the CCP’s attempt to “zeroize” Taiwan from the world. Carter’s Abandonment of Taiwan For those who might not know the history, Congress similarly took the initiative when then-President Jimmy Carter announced on Dec. 16, 1978, that the United States would do the following: Not renew the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty (signed on Dec. 1, 1954, and would expire on Jan. 1, 1980). Withdraw U.S. troops from Taiwan (stationed since 1955) by Jan. 1, 1979. Terminate diplomatic relations with the ROC on Jan. 1, 1979. (Relations with ROC were established in 1928 and followed the ROC government movements during World War II even as it moved to Formosa island in 1949.) Carter gave Taiwan two weeks for the dramatic change of relations. He did not formally coordinate with Congress, Taiwan, or any allies. He only coordinated with the CCP. In retribution for Carter’s abandonment of Taiwan for China, Congress enacted the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which provided for the following: Established the American Institute on Taiwan (de facto U.S. Embassy). Promised that the United States would provide defensive weapons to Taiwan. Declared that the United States would seek a peaceful resolution of Taiwan and that this was a matter of U.S. national security. The sale of defensive weapons was a provision that Carter had not planned. Furthermore, the TRA infuriated the CCP because the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan was not agreed to between Carter and the CCP. Congress created friction between Carter and Beijing. To further counter Carter’s actions, in 1982, the Reagan administration provided unilateral “Six Assurances” to the ROC as clarifications to the Third Communiqué between the United States

Fighting the CCP’s Diplomatic Warfare Against Taiwan

Commentary

On May 13, President Joe Biden signed a bill to direct the secretary of state to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is this significant?

A definition of diplomatic warfare is the use of diplomacy to influence international bodies (such as the United Nations), other nations, and domestic audiences to support a course of action that benefits one nation while impairing another country.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to use diplomatic warfare to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world to the point that no country will recognize and come to assist it in times of crisis. Below are examples of how the United States pushed back on the CCP’s diplomatic warfare against Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC).

Taiwan would like to participate in international discussions, at a minimum, in the following five organizations: International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), WHO, and World Health Assembly (WHA)—a WHO decision-making body.

Taiwan was a member of INTERPOL between 1961 and 1984 until China joined INTERPOL and lobbied the members to remove Taiwan. Today, the CCP prevents Taiwan from having any meaningful participation in all U.N. organizations. For example, Taiwan was an observer member of WHO from 1998 to 2016, when CCP-Taiwan relations were “acceptable” to the communists. The CCP appears to be punishing Taiwan (using diplomatic warfare) for electing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

According to the bill, “Statehood is not a requirement for attendance at the WHA, and numerous observers, including non-members and non-governmental organizations, attended the most recent virtual WHA in May 2020.”

The CCP prevented Taiwan from attending by making attendance conditional on Taiwan agreeing to the CCP’s “One China” principle, which denies Taiwan its existence.

Why should Taiwan be able to attend?

First, Taiwan has provided over $6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid since 1996, impacting over 80 countries.

Second, had the WHO taken the advice of Taiwan early during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the world would have known about the danger of COVID early on and taken preventive measures to stop the spread of the disease, saving lives.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, initiated the Senate Bill 812 on March 17, 2021. Menendez was one of five U.S. Senators who visited Taiwan on April 14–15, 2022. Three other lawmakers co-sponsored the bill: Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Sen. Robert Menendez
Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) gives an opening statement on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 23, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images)

The Senate passed the bill with unanimous consent, and the House of Representatives voted 425-0 in favor of the bill (75 Republican Representatives and 53 Democratic Representatives co-sponsored the House bill HR 1145). Biden approved the bill on May 13.

Congress and the president sent a clear unanimous message to Taiwan, the CCP, and the rest of the world that the United States is fed up with the CCP’s attempt to “zeroize” Taiwan from the world.

Carter’s Abandonment of Taiwan

For those who might not know the history, Congress similarly took the initiative when then-President Jimmy Carter announced on Dec. 16, 1978, that the United States would do the following:

  • Not renew the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty (signed on Dec. 1, 1954, and would expire on Jan. 1, 1980).
  • Withdraw U.S. troops from Taiwan (stationed since 1955) by Jan. 1, 1979.
  • Terminate diplomatic relations with the ROC on Jan. 1, 1979. (Relations with ROC were established in 1928 and followed the ROC government movements during World War II even as it moved to Formosa island in 1949.)

Carter gave Taiwan two weeks for the dramatic change of relations. He did not formally coordinate with Congress, Taiwan, or any allies. He only coordinated with the CCP.

In retribution for Carter’s abandonment of Taiwan for China, Congress enacted the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which provided for the following:

  • Established the American Institute on Taiwan (de facto U.S. Embassy).
  • Promised that the United States would provide defensive weapons to Taiwan.
  • Declared that the United States would seek a peaceful resolution of Taiwan and that this was a matter of U.S. national security.

The sale of defensive weapons was a provision that Carter had not planned. Furthermore, the TRA infuriated the CCP because the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan was not agreed to between Carter and the CCP. Congress created friction between Carter and Beijing.

To further counter Carter’s actions, in 1982, the Reagan administration provided unilateral “Six Assurances” to the ROC as clarifications to the Third Communiqué between the United States and China.

These “Six Assurances” were:

  • The United States has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan.
  • The United States has not agreed to consult with China on arms sales to Taiwan.
  • The United States will not play a mediation role between Taipei and Beijing.
  • The United States has not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act.
  • The United States has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.
  • The United States will not exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.

President Ronald Reagan and his staff coordinated these “Six Assurances” with the ROC and Congress. All subsequent U.S. presidents and their administrations have honored these assurances. The Trump administration and Congress enhanced the U.S.-ROC bilateral relationship by enacting into law the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA), which facilitates the following:

  • Allow officials at all levels of the U.S. government to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts.
  • Allow high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the United States under respectful conditions and to meet with U.S. officials.
  • Encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan to conduct business in the United States.
Epoch Times Photo
Members of an American Congressional delegation (L–R) Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pose for a photo with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (center right) and other Taiwanese officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 15, 2022. U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan have made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy while also issuing a warning to China. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

Through its ambassador in Washington, China threatened dire results for approving this bill. And Congress responded accordingly by voting unanimously to pass the TTA, sending a clear message again back to the CCP that the United States does not appreciate being told how to conduct its relationship with other countries.

Recent Congressional Actions

On April 14–15, the following five U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan as part of their Indo-Pacific meetings that include Australia and Japan: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Robert Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Benjamin Sasse (R-Neb.), and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) who is also a medical doctor.

Clearly, Menendez and the Congressional delegation took further action after their trip to Taiwan. They pushed Congress to get the Department of State (DOS) to report to Congress what the DOS had done to gain Taiwan observer status in the WHO. This law puts the onus on the DOS to demonstrate and explain what it has done publicly. Congress is leading the support to change how Taiwan is treated internationally.

Conclusion

Congress and Biden have recently sent a clear message that the U.S. government will work to add Taiwan as an observer to the WHO and the WHA. The U.S. government and Taiwan’s other allies should help Taiwan join at least the five U.N. organizations (WHO, WHA, INTERPOL, UNFCCC, and ICAO) as an observer.

Other U.N. organizations will become more important in the future as the CCP tries to expand its power. For example, since the CCP claims Taiwan and its islands, Taiwan should consider becoming an observer with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which adjudicates claims to exclusive economic zones. Another potential organization is the Outer Space Treaty. Since Taiwan is not a member, all 17 of Taiwan’s satellites are oddly registered to China as “Taiwan, Province of China.”

The United States and Taiwan’s allies will need to expend a lot of effort to return the ROC to the various U.N. organizations to counter the CCP’s diplomatic warfare against Taiwan.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Guermantes Lailari is a retired USAF Foreign Area Officer specializing in the Middle East and Europe as well as counterterrorism, irregular warfare, and missile defense. He has studied, worked, and served in the Middle East and North Africa for over 14 years and similarly in Europe for six years. He was a U.S. Air Force Attaché in the Middle East, served in Iraq and holds advanced degrees in International Relations and Strategic Intelligence. He researches authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that threaten democracies. He will be a Taiwan Fellow in Taipei during 2022.