Afghanistan not a parallel with Taiwan: academics

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Afghanistan not a parallel with Taiwan: academics

ENTIRELY DIFFERENT: Holmes Liao, formerly of the National Defense University, said that Afghan leaders are corrupt, while Taiwan has a stable democracy

By Chen Yu-fu, Jason Pan and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff reporters, with staff writer

It is impossible to compare Taiwan with Afghanistan, academics said yesterday in response to claims that the US’ withdrawal proves that Taiwan cannot rely on US military assistance.

Nearly two decades after the US took control of Kabul, the Taliban on Sunday swiftly retook control of the Afghan capital, prompting the nation’s president to flee.

Critics have been quick to compare the situation to the fall of Saigon after the withdrawal of US troops during the Vietnam War, with some suggesting that the US’ track record bodes poorly for Taiwan’s chances in the event of an invasion by China.

“Taiwan is not Afghanistan,” former National Defense University distinguished lecturer Holmes Liao (廖宏祥) said.

The Afghan government is extremely corrupt, while Taiwan enjoys a stable democracy, he said.

Additionally, Taiwan’s defense strategy is based on a standard island military defense, as opposed to the domestic strife and guerrilla warfare that typify the conflicts in Afghanistan and previously Vietnam, he said, calling the two “entirely different.”

The hidden problems facing Taiwan are the belief in a “great Chinese nation,” defeatism and unprofessionalism within all ranks of the military leadership, Liao said.

The US, Japan, South Korea, the EU and G7 nations all support maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait in recognition of the nation’s strategic placement within the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan East Turkestan Association president Ho Chao-tung (何朝棟) said.

Considering China’s considerable global influence, using Afghanistan to claim that Taipei cannot rely on the US is an erroneous comparison, he added.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) yesterday condemned some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians for using the Afghanistan example to warn Taiwan about the dangers of relying on the US.

“Some are saying it should serve as a warning to Taiwan not to get too close to the US, and even use it as a taunt about China mounting a military invasion of Taiwan,” Chen wrote on Facebook. “Has the KMT not learned its lesson after being deceived by the Chinese Communist Party so many times? Or maybe it is a case of KMT politicians manifesting their suffering as ‘Stockholm syndrome’ victims?”

The parallel comparison does not work; US troops are not stationed in Taiwan, so there is no US military to withdraw, Cheng said.

“Taiwan has our own military for national defense, while we collaborate with other militaries and procure arms from the US and other allied countries,” he said.

In response to media queries for comment, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said: “The events in Afghanistan are connected to the geopolitics of the Middle East.”

“In a geopolitical context, Taiwan is situated at the forefront of an alliance of democratic countries, with peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait also being in the best interest of countries in the region, which Taiwan can contribute to,” he said.

Chinese media claims US will abandon Taiwan like Afghanistan

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Hundreds of people run alongside USAF C-17 transport plane as it moves down runway of Kabul airport on Aug. 16. Hundreds of people run alongside USAF C-17 transport plane as it moves down runway of Kabul airport on Aug. 16. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese state-run media attempted to draw parallels between the U.S.’ relationship with Taiwan and Washington’s precipitous abandonment of Kabul in a series of op-eds on Monday (Aug. 16).

China’s state-operated mouthpiece the Global Times published a series of opinion pieces seeking to capitalize on the catastrophic capitulation of the Afghan government to Taliban guerillas and the chaotic evacuation of the Kabul airport. In one article, titled “Afghanistan today, Taiwan tomorrow? US treachery scares DPP,” the tabloid claimed that given America’s track record of abandoning allies, Taiwan cannot count on the U.S. in the event of an attack by China.

The newspaper cited an anonymous “internet user” in Taiwan as saying “Yesterday’s Saigon, today’s Afghanistan, and tomorrow’s Taiwan?” The authors interpreted this to mean that the “so-called alliance” between Taiwan and the U.S. is nothing but an empty promise that will eventually “leave the Taiwan people hurting alone.”

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, was cited as saying that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is a “warning to the Taiwan secessionists, or, rather, a forecast.” Li asserted that if Taiwan, “misled by secessionists,” continues on a path to directly confront China, the U.S. “will cast Taiwan aside just as it has done with Vietnam, and now Afghanistan.”

The article cited “observers” as doubting the geopolitical value of Taiwan to the U.S. and raised doubts about the costs the Biden administration is willing to bear for the “interests of Taiwan secessionists” compared to the time and resources invested in Afghanistan.

Jin Canrong (金燦榮), associate dean of Renmin University of China’s School of International Studies, was quoted as saying that “Those who have a clear mind should understand that Taiwan residents can’t rely on the US,” and while conceding that the situation in Taiwan is different, Jin asserted: “there’s one thing in common — America’s empty promise.”

The authors cited “one media outlet in Taiwan” as saying that there are now doubts in Taiwan as to whether the U.S. will honor its commitments and use military force in the country’s defense. The unnamed outlet allegedly stated that the U.S. commitment is now “full of question marks” given Washington’s “blurry” policy toward Taipei and its “snap decision on Afghanistan.”

Taiwan warns citizens not to travel to Afghanistan given current political situation

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) on Tuesday (Aug. 17) urged Taiwanese not to travel to Afghanistan given the current political situation.

During a regular MOFA meeting, Ou said that since the U.S. began its withdrawal from the Central Asian country in April this year, the Taliban has quickly gained the advantage when battling against government forces, Liberty Times reported. The Taliban now controls most of Afghanistan, including the capital of Kabul, she said, adding that many foreigners have already left the nation.

The spokesperson said that because Taiwan does not have a representative office in Afghanistan, its diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia administers all Afghan affairs. According to Taiwan’s Saudi Arabia office, there are no nationals living in Afghanistan, she said.

Ou said that considering the severe security situation in the Central Asian nation, MOFA warns Taiwan citizens not to travel there for business or tourism for the time being. The spokesperson advised Taiwanese who must go to Afghanistan to call the Taiwan representative office in Saudi Arabia or the MOFA Emergency Contact Center in case of an emergency.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia emergency number: (+966) 505-223725

MOFA Emergency Contact Center number: 0800-085-095