The Chinese Communist Party wants to control what we say and what we think. That’s exemplified by its response to my article on Chinese retaliation against Lithuania for boosting its ties with Taiwan.
My account of this was reprinted by Svenska Dagbladet, a leading Swedish paper. According to the Chinese embassy in Stockholm, it is not only “inconsistent with the facts” and “full of fallacies and prejudices”. It also “severely breached the norms of international relations and principles of the Swedish Government’s foreign policy.”
The embassy seems to have mistaken Stockholm for Pyongyang. Svenska Dagbladet may (and does) print opinion pieces opposing Swedish foreign policy. News outlets in a free society operate independently of the government.
Let’s look at the details.
Claim number one:
“There is but one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.”
The “one China” bit is fine. In theory, both sides agree on this: Taiwan still has the “Republic of China” as part of its official title, reflecting its roots in the nationalist regime defeated by Mao’s Communist forces in 1948.
But the contention that Taiwan is an “inalienable part of China” is nonsense. The Chinese empire ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895.
Most importantly, Taiwanese people do not want to be ruled by Beijing. They see how “one country, two systems” worked out in Hong Kong. Mainland China ignores that.
So let’s start fixing the embassy’s letter. It should read: “Our bosses in Beijing would like to control Taiwan, despite a legally questionable claim and the opposition of the Taiwanese people.”
Claim number two:
“The one-China principle is a red line that cannot be crossed.”
Wrong. The red line is crossed repeatedly. That is why China is complaining.
So fix that bit to read: “The one-China principle matters hugely to us but many outsiders regard it as ridiculous.”
Claim number three:
“The meaning of the one-China principle is clear and brooks no distortion and misrepresentation.”
Not really. Many countries and most Western ones have semi-official ties with Taiwan. Military and intelligence contacts are intensifying — stoked by growing fears about mainland Chinese aggression.
Amend to read: “The one-China principle is in practice rather fuzzy.”
Claim number four:
“Supporting the one-China policy means strict compliance with the one-China principle, including severing official exchanges in both flagrant and secret ways with Taiwan authorities.”
Wrong: see above. The embassy is shifting here from stating facts to making demands. Oddly, it seems confused about whether “flagrant” or ”secret” exchanges are worse.
The next bit probably reads better in the original Chinese:
“The Lithuanian side tries to distort concepts and disguise its challenge against the one-China principle as the so-called defense of ‘principles and values’ to quibble for its development of official relations with Taiwan authorities. Such an attempt can only fool themselves.”
This seems to claim that Lithuania is disguising its attack on the one-China policy in high-flown language. But Lithuania is not cloaking its stance at all. Lithuanian politicians genuinely believe in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. They say so constantly. Their revulsion at the Chinese dictatorship and their support for friendly, beleaguered Taiwan is utterly sincere. Outsiders (annoyingly for China) find it inspiring. Nobody’s being fooled, except perhaps Chinese officials who refuse to accept reality.
After some concluding waffle, the embassy urges the Swedes to publish this letter. It has.
That highlights a paradox. Whereas mainland Chinese media are strictly forbidden from publishing anything that reflects the thoughts and arguments that prevail (still) in the free world, Western outlets are willing to publish the Chinese regime’s bullying nonsense.
Think about that, comrades.