China will try to snatch more allies from Taiwan before 2020: NSC

09/25/2019 11:15 PM
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Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) China is continuing its efforts to peel off Taiwan's diplomatic allies in an all-out attempt to influence Taiwan's 2020 general elections and may convince other countries to switch sides before the end of the year, following its success with two Pacific nations last week, the National Security Council (NSC) said in report released Wednesday.

The report, which was discussed Monday by Taiwan's top national security and foreign affairs officials, said that China's threats and acts of suppression have been coming hard and fast recently.

For example, China has been conducting military exercises that target Taiwan, has banned individual visits to Taiwan by its nationals, and has convinced the Solomon Islands and Kiribati to switch recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the NSC said in the report.

Amid the heightened threats, Taiwan may lose another one or two allies before the end of the year and may see increased pressure on friendly supporting countries, including the United States, Japan and the nations of the European Union, the NSC said.

"China would resort to any means to interfere in Taiwan's 2020 elections and to further suppress Taiwan in the international community," the NSC in the report, which was an analysis of the heightened threat from China and its attempts to influence Taiwan's elections.

China also sees economic issues as one of the best ways to manipulate Taiwan's elections and its political direction, the NSC said.

"At a sensitive time when elections are approaching, it (China) has taken heavy actions to reduce cross-strait economic and trade interactions," the report states.

Beijing is hoping to strangle Taiwan's economic sector so that it could control "economic voters" in the country, the NSC said.

It forecast that Beijing would go even further in the future by cutting the number of cross-strait flights, reducing the number of Chinese tourists, students and investors allowed to travel to Taiwan, revoking cross-strait currency clearance, tightening financial exchanges between the two sides, and forcing Taiwanese businesspeople in China to declare their political affiliation.

Furthermore, Beijing is likely to threaten to terminate the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which was signed in 2010 to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between Taiwan and China, the NSC said.

On the political front, Beijing may step up its efforts through actions such as supporting a third political force to dilute support for the pro-independence pan-green camp in the elections and orchestrating incidents that would jeopardize social order in Taiwan, the NSC said.

Meanwhile, China will continue to conduct military exercises that simulate attacks on Taiwan and sail its warships close to Taiwan, the report said.

The NSC recommended that Taiwan take measures to defend its sovereignty and democracy, diversify its foreign relations, strengthen its national defense force, and stem the circulation of false information to prevent penetration by China.

The report was discussed at a meeting that was attended by NSC Secretary-General David Lee (李大維) and his deputy Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Mainland Affairs Council chief Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), Vice Minister of National Defense Chang Che-ping (張哲平) and National Security Bureau (NSB) Deputy Director General Ko Cheng-heng (柯承亨).

At the meeting, Lee said the government would not allow China to use its economic power to influence Taiwan's politics.

Citing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Lee said the government is strongly opposed to the "one China, two systems" formula put forth by Beijing, and refuses to accept any "transitional arrangement" that will force unification between the two sides.

"This is not a choice of war or peace, but rather a decision on whether we will maintain the status quo of the Republic of China's (Taiwan) independent sovereignty or its unification with China," he said.

Last week, Taiwan lost two diplomatic allies to China -- the Solomon Islands on Sept. 16 and Kiribati four days later.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)


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