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  • Writer's pictureSamar Jain

The Globalist's 2021 Democracy of the Year: Taiwan

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

By Samar Jain

Democracy is fragile, but in the end, it prevails, it’s said. And the Neroes fall.

Using every tool in the playbook, China has tragically brought all that into doubt.

In early October, the Chinese military launched its most threatening moves against Taiwan to date. Between Oct. 1 and 4, China’s air force flew nearly 150 war planes into Taiwan’s airspace; the 56 fighters, bombers and submarine hunters that flew on Oct. 4 were the largest ever one-day contingent sent near the island.

In an increasingly authoritarian Asia, where governments of struggling democracies instead of acting as a counterweight to autocratic influence from countries such as China have themselves veered towards authoritarianism. World’s largest surveillant state is now running the largest genocidal campaign as it tightens its clampdown against the Uighur Minority, and somehow today’s superpower is fast losing its grip to handle the one of tomorrow.

But one signal seems to be standing out amidst a crippling rule of law, crushed dissent and severe human rights breaches- Taiwan. The Tsai Ing-wen led sovereign island nation, which time and again has its sovereignty questioned, is teaching us a thing or two about standing up to bullies. It has gone from being just an offshoot province of Mainland China to a champion of democratic practices and one of Asia’s top performing economies.

Yet, today the future of Taiwan’s identity lies at a crossroads. Xi’s China has rejected not only democracy but also diplomacy, in recent days, aggressively targeting to hinder the independence of the country. It is clear when left unchecked, China doesn’t fear sanctions, alliances or treaties nor does it bother to camouflage its disdain for the Taiwanese Republic.

In the midst of this, it’s a ludicrous situation which the island finds itself in. It is not recognized as a country by its most important ally, the U.S.; it faces an existential threat from territory it claims as its own, China; and its sovereign status is being gradually erased by companies seeking to preserve access to the world’s largest market.

A way to subjugate a country is through either the sword or debt. China has chosen the latter. From getting Sri Lanka to cough up a port to the shrewd Belt and Road initiative to tactical acquisition of real estates around the world. These carefully planned plots of planted debt traps and a blatant expansionist intent on the Chinese borders reveals a broader pattern and a strategically laid out net to first systematically mark out, next disenfranchise and then finally annihilate.

But Taiwanese people are keeping resistance alive in their own way. When need be, they get to the streets and demonstrate dissent in a vibrant democracy against the Communist Party's threat to fall under their flag.

It’s a matter of time that any major global power which today conveniently looks the other way while China eats its way through the world, will almost certainly have Beijing come back to bite it.

Taiwan deserves recognition so the world acknowledges the power of resistance against tyranny.

For demanding a democratic republic from a country- neither a democracy nor a republic, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Taiwan under Tsai is The Globalist’s Democracy of the Year.

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