Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since the end of a civil war more than seven decades ago, in which the defeated Nationalists fled to Taipei. But China views Taiwan, a democratic island of around 24 million people as an inseparable part of its territory, despite having never controlled Taiwan.
Recently, China’s ruling Communist Party called the US a fading global power. And now, the return of the Taliban to the streets of the Afghan capital is being touted by Chinese state media as the “death knell of US hegemony.”
“The fall of Kabul marks the collapse of the international image and credibility of the US,” a commentary from state news agency Xinhua said.
“Following the blows of the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the decay of the American hegemony has become an undisputed reality. Its failure in Afghanistan is another turning point in that spiral fall,” the statement added.
The Global Times, a tabloid run by the Government, which serves as a propaganda machine of the government, in its own statement described the “unreliability of US commitment to its allies,” suggesting the self-governing island of Taiwan could face the same fate as Afghanistan if they go to war with China.
“Once a war breaks out in the Taiwan Straits, the island’s defense will collapse in hours and the US military won’t come to help.” the Global Times said in an editorial.
The taunt from China coincides with air and naval drills launched Tuesday August 17, by the Chinese military, which sent fighter jets and warships near Taiwan in response to what it called the “repeated collusion in provocation” by Washington and Taipei.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has increased military activity around the island, in response to what it considers to be growing calls for formal independence. The US has also been selling weapons to Taiwan for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Following the collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban, conversation has broken out across Taiwanese social media in recent days as to how the government in Taipei would respond in the event of a Chinese invasion, and whether the US would indeed come to the island’s defense.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang appeared to confront the Chinese threats directly, saying Taiwan’s leaders are “not afraid of being killed or imprisoned” by “powerful countries that want to swallow up Taiwan using force.”
Politicians in Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) also dismissed attempts to draw parallels between Taiwan and Afghanistan.
“If we’re going to make Afghan comparisons, Taiwan survived that moment 40+ years ago. US troops left Taiwan in 1979 after recognizing the PRC,” Wen Lii, a local ruling party official, wrote on Twitter, referring to China by abbreviation of its official name the People’s Republic of China.
“So no, Taiwan is not Afghanistan,” he added.
Kolas Yotaka, spokesperson for Taiwan’s Presidential Office, said the “lazy comparisons…ignore the realities of both countries, and show little regard for the immense human suffering facing many in Afghanistan today.”