August 5, 2022
DHAKA – China is not Russia. Taiwan is not Ukraine. We understand the distinction between their geopolitical circumstances, yet comparisons are necessary, and perhaps unavoidable, given the way the US has provoked China after doing the same with Russia, and given its potential ramifications for the rest of us. Losses suffered in modern conflicts or wars are never restricted to the two parties directly involved. Often, the whole world ends up suffering, as we did, and continue to do, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We cannot afford a similar development.
Taiwan’s historic struggle with China, which claims it as its own, merits sympathy but border disputes of this kind are not uncommon. It was also a mostly well-managed situation until, late on Tuesday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the country despite repeated warnings from the Chinese authorities. China views the visit, the first by a top-ranked US lawmaker in 25 years, as a “major political provocation”, and a challenge to its sovereignty. And it has since launched a series of retaliatory actions, both military and economic, against Taiwan for hosting Pelosi. On Thursday, it even fired multiple ballistic missiles towards waters near northeastern and southwestern Taiwan, after releasing a plan for six-day military drills that observers called tantamount to a “maritime and aerial blockade” of the island.
China’s response so far may be termed as a gross overreaction. But was it totally unanticipated? Did the US rely on China to tolerate its provocation without escalation? Or was this the goal all along? Will the situation deteriorate further? Or will the US and China tone down their rhetoric and back off to give peace – or at least the appearance of it – a chance? What does the escalation mean for the future of Taiwan? There are many questions as well as uncertainties. But one thing is clear: the world doesn’t need, or cannot afford, another Ukraine-like situation, which, if we remember correctly, also began with provocations from the US and its western allies. And it is Ukraine, not the US, that is having to pay the price with its blood. We, too, have suffered heavily with skyrocketing fuel and food prices across the world.
The same fate might await Taiwan, and by extension all of us, if the two superheroes don’t stop flirting with disaster. China is punishing Taiwan because of US provocations, and it is not something we can ethically support. But the priority right now is to de-escalate the situation by any means. We urge the global leaders to see reason and get back to the diplomatic corridors for all unresolved issues. They must do it for the sake of global peace and stability.