Editor’s note: Andrew Korybko, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author’s views and not necessarily those of CGTN.
Most international observers rarely talk about Nauru, which is one of the world’s smallest nations, but it just made global headlines on Monday after severing ties with the Taiwan region and recognizing Beijing as the only legitimate government of China.
This decision came after the Chinese island’s latest elections led to a pro-“independence” candidate, Lai Ching-te of the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Many of the abovementioned observers were therefore talking about the implications that this could have on cross-Straits ties, especially given the U.S.’s unprincipled political support for the DPP and its separatist ambitions, which earlier provoked a strong rebuke from Beijing. The emerging Western media narrative was therefore that this latest political development somehow or another extends false credence to “Taiwan independence,” yet Nauru’s decision just changed the conversation.
The important example set by this Pacific Island country is that no state is too small to make a major difference. By severing ties with the Taiwan region shortly after its latest election, Nauru reminded everyone that pro-“independence” sentiment is so dangerous that even one of its few “friends” felt compelled to disown it. This in turn redirects the discourse away from the Western media’s preferred angle and back towards the one of raising awareness about how irresponsible it is for the U.S. to support such views.
Nauru isn’t known for throwing its diplomatic weight around, but it couldn’t remain silent knowing what could be at stake if those same views from the campaign trail eventually translate into tangible policies. It’s one thing to recognize so-called “Taiwan independence” when this isn’t being seriously considered by political forces on the island, which is already bad enough, and another entirely to do so when someone like Lai might flirt with taking this beyond the realm of rhetoric and into reality.
The shock of what just happened in the Taiwan region woke Nauruan policymakers up to the mistake that they previously made and inspired them to finally correct it; ergo the timing behind their decision attracted enormous international attention due to the larger context as explained. Additionally, it conforms to the trend in recent years of Taiwan’s “former friends” severing ties, thus further dwindling the number of those countries that officially recognize its undeclared “independence.”
Each arrived at the same conclusion that they made a mistake, which was the result of their own sovereign decisions, unlike the false claims made by the West and some of Taiwan region’s politicians that this was supposedly due to corruption or some other unsavory reason. Such allegations insult those UN member states by misportraying them as pawns in a geopolitical game when they’re actually independent and responsible members of the international community.
It’s pure projection on the West and some Taiwan politicians’ part because they resorted to corruption in the past to secure foreign support for “Taiwan independence,” but such means are no longer as successful as before as proven by those countries that have switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in recent years.
The global systemic transition to multipolarity is ongoing and its outcome is inevitable, and these complex processes have inspired countries across the world to play their part in building a better world for all. To that end, those who have made mistakes like recognizing “Taiwan independence” decided to correct them.
Recognizing the one-China principle and severing “diplomatic relations” with the Taiwan region is also mutually beneficial since their people can finally reap the advantages of trade and investment from China, which is the world’s second-largest economy. No self-respecting state, like the People’s Republic of China, would ever offer privileged market access and no-strings-attached loans to anyone that doesn’t even recognize its legitimate existence, nor would they advise their tourists to travel there if there’s no diplomatic presence to protect their interests if need be. Nauru was therefore losing out on a lot of opportunities before its timely change of heart brought about by recognizing the dangers inherent in the new DPP leader’s rhetoric.
Lai should accordingly read the writing on the wall and realize that nothing good will come in the event if he tries to turn the political fantasy of “Taiwan independence” into a reality. The only way forward is to abandon his reckless rhetoric and distance himself from foreign forces like the U.S.’s anti-Chinese hawks that are pushing him to make what could be one of the worst mistakes in history. Peaceful reunification with the mainland, not militant separatism, is the way forward for everyone.
Lai has already scared away one of Taiwan’s few remaining “friends” just days after the election, and others might soon follow Nauru’s lead by severing ties as well upon concluding on their own that it’s a mistake to extend false credence to this dangerous cause that he rhetorically championed on the campaign trail. It’s better to save himself from that embarrassment and further isolation by correcting his own mistakes as soon as possible instead of risking the consequences of flirting with “Taiwan independence.”