China has crushed opposition in Hong Kong, Taiwan fears it is next
‘We cannot allow a democratic Taiwan to be taken over by China,’ said Taiwan’s foreign minister
Taiwan's foreign minister is calling on fellow democracies to voice more support in the wake of an increasingly hostile China, citing the dismantling of freedoms in Hong Kong as a sign of Chinese expansionism.
"If you look at the Chinese actions, it doesn't stop in Hong Kong. Look at Chinese military activities in the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. What we see is an authoritarian regime trying to expand its influence beyond the first island chain," Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an exclusive Canadian interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
"In the Chinese expansion, Taiwan stands on the front line," Minister Wu told host David Common. "We suffer from Chinese influence operations, infiltration, disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks and military threats, also diplomatic isolation."
Minister Wu says the Taiwanese people view what happened in Hong Kong as "tragedy of the modern times" that should not be allowed to happen again.
Taiwan has been sounding the alarm about China's military actions this year. China has flown warplanes into Taiwan's air defence identification zone and deployed an aircraft carrier group near the island for exercises in April; drills that China said will be conducted on a regular basis moving forward.
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will one day be incorporated into mainland China under the "one country, two systems" framework — a proposition the island democracy rejects.
Minister Wu said he hopes fellow democracies can pay more attention to Taiwan's precarious situation.
"Under these kinds of circumstances, we hope fellow democracies can voice more in support for Taiwan, especially looking at Taiwan's position as a frontline state and showing support for Taiwan being a democracy," said Wu.
Watch: 'We cannot allow a democratic Taiwan to be taken over by China': Joseph Wu:
Under Canada's One China policy, Canada does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taipei. Canada does, however, have a trade office in Taipei and Taiwan has an economic and cultural office in Canada.
There have been no cabinet-level visits by the Canadian government since former industry minister John Manley visited Taipei in 1998.
While Canada does not officially recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state, the Liberal government joined G7 allies earlier this month in supporting Taiwan's "meaningful participation" in World Health Organization forums and the World Health Assembly.
China has blocked Taiwan's participation in these international bodies since 2016. Taiwan is pushing to regain observer status at the World Health Assembly meeting this week.
Minister Wu said Canada's support for Taiwan's participation is "very courageous."
"If the Canadian government can continue to provide support to Taiwan's international participation, I think that will be highly appreciated. And from that, we will continue to work together with the Canadian government to make sure that human rights or freedom or democracy can continue to expand throughout the world," said Wu.
Canada, alongside G7 allies, also expressed "serious concern" about China's actions in the East and South China Seas and stressed the importance of "peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
Watch: Canadian government is 'very courageous' in speaking out for Taiwan: Joseph Wu:
You can watch full episodes of Power & Politics on CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service.
- This story has been updated from an earlier version that referred to Taiwan as a country, reflecting the CBC News practice of maintaining impartiality in the dispute over whether the island is sovereign or part of China.May 26, 2021 5:54 PM ET