The head of Taiwan’s legislature visited Washington this week, where he met with top U.S. lawmakers and told audiences that the Taiwanese people are determined to defend themselves should Beijing try to invade.
During a time when the island is under greater political and military pressure from Beijing, You Si-Kun, head of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, met with members of the House committee focused on China, as well as with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said they discussed security and democracy.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said the two discussed “opportunities to work toward a tax agreement and expediting military sales to Taiwan.” The United States is expected to move forward soon with sending $500 million worth of weapons aid to Taiwan.
A will to defend itself
Speaking at a Hudson Institute event, You emphasized how the will to defend itself is a part of Taiwan’s DNA and that the country will unite across political party lines should it be invaded.
“Support from friendly nations is critical, given China’s size,” You told VOA in an interview Tuesday. “But the Taiwanese people can be counted on to do everything they can to fight the invaders and preserve their freedom and way of life.”
To make his point, You referenced when Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Qing court in 1895, which resulted in Japanese occupation of Taiwan that lasted 50 years, until the end of World War II.
You recalled how it took Japanese forces more than five months to pacify the island after it was officially ceded to Tokyo, at a time when Taiwan had no official government, no armed forces, and no international support.
In the decades since, Taiwan has seen waves of migration from mainland China as well as the rise of a democratic government, which You says have strengthened the island’s collective sense of self-defense.
He recalled the Sunflower protests in 2014, when Taiwanese youths came out in huge numbers to protest a trade deal between Taiwan and mainland China that they feared would disadvantage Taiwan economically and politically.
“It wasn’t just youths whose ancestors had been in Taiwan for multiple generations that came out to protest, but across the board,” said You.
That solidarity, he said, will happen again should Beijing decide to invade Taiwan, he said, “even while we [people from different political parties] have our disagreements in peacetime.”
China’s intense military maneuvers in and around Taiwan’s airspace and maritime territory in recent months could have at least two aims, You told VOA.
One is to intimidate the population and pin the tension on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in hopes of directing votes toward candidates portrayed as “peace-loving,” he said. “They could also be rehearsing their armed forces, ships and aircraft, especially since they have not fought in an active war for decades,” You added as the second aim.
Before the delegation returned to Taiwan, You and the other legislators also met with Enes Kantor Freedom, the Turkish-American basketball star-turned-advocate of freedom for people not only in his birth country, but around the world, including Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan.