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Taiwan Has Become the Berlin of Our Time in a New Cold War

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The message that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sought to send to communist China by meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library earlier this month was unmistakable: The U.S. will stand for freedom as it did of old.

He said as much at a news conference conducted in front of a section of the Berlin Wall at the library.

“[Tensions] in the world are at the highest point since the end of the Cold War as authoritarian leaders seek to use violence and fear to provoke needless conflict,” McCarthy stated.

The speaker noted that it was fitting to have such a meeting with Tsai at Reagan’s library, given his commitment to the freedom of the people of Taiwan.

McCarthy referenced the six assurances Reagan gave to the island democracy in 1982, as China was engaged in bellicose threats then, as well.

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Reagan’s assurances included a commitment to continue to sell military arms and maintain trade in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.


Tsai acknowledged Reagan’s forceful stance in her remarks at the library.

“It is especially fitting for us to meet here to pay tribute to a distinguished American president and world leader, a man who also played a crucial role, in partnership with the U.S. Congress, in protecting and fortifying U.S.-Taiwan relations at a time of changing diplomatic realities,” she said.

“President Reagan’s six assurances of 1982, on top of the landmark Taiwan Relations Act passed by the Congress, laid the foundation for a strong and unique partnership of over four decades, during which we have maintained peace, promoted prosperity, and welcomed the advent of Taiwan’s democracy,” Tsai added.

The president went on to note that democracy faces “unprecedented challenges” in the current day.

“We once again find ourselves in a world where democracy is under threat, and the urgency of keeping the beacon of freedom shining cannot be understated,” Tsai said.

“President Reagan said it best: ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation.'”

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Communist China responded to McCarthy’s meeting with Tsai in predictable fashion — by encircling Taiwan with naval ships and flying military aircraft into its airspace.

The three days of military drills began the day after Tsai returned to the island.

“This is a serious warning to the Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces’ collusion and provocation, and it is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese army’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The Republic of China, as Taiwan is officially known, is located about 100 miles off the coast of mainland China, which is of course governed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Do you think Taiwan is the Berlin of our time?

Taiwan came to be after a civil war between ROC and CCP forces erupted following the end of World War II. The CCP prevailed, causing ROC leader Chiang Kai-shek and about 1.5 million of his supporters to flee to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) in 1949.

The communists formed the People’s Republic of China in October 1949 and separate governments have existed ever since. The PRC does not recognize Taiwan as independent.

There are some parallels between the position that Taiwan holds now and what West Berlin held during the Cold War.

I visited both East and West Berlin in June 1988 while on an Army assignment in Germany as a West Point cadet. It was a little over a year before the wall came down in November 1989.

 

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Berlin was located about 100 miles from the West German border in East Germany, which was a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union.

At the end of World War II, the Allies divided Germany into occupation zones overseen by the Americans, British, French and Soviets. Germany’s capital was also divided into zones.

After East Germany declared itself a separate country, the Americans, British and French did not leave their posts in Berlin, so West Berlin became an island of democracy, if you will, in the middle of East Germany.

The Soviets tried blockading it in 1948-49, but the Western allies responded with the Berlin Airlift to keep the city supplied.

Then, in August 1961, East Germany began building a wall to divide Berlin between the eastern and western sectors.

To encourage the people of West Berlin, President John Kennedy traveled there in June 1963 and delivered a famous address.

“There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the communist world. Let them come to Berlin,” Kennedy said.

“Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us,” he added.

Kennedy concluded, “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.'”

Twenty-four years later in June 1987, Reagan went to West Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate, located near the Berlin Wall, and delivered one of the most memorable lines of his presidency directed at the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Heritage Foundation fellow and former Yale University history lecturer Theodore Bromund noted some similarities between the position Berlin held during the Cold War and what Taiwan holds now.

The most fundamental analogy between Berlin and Taiwan is that the right to self-government is the central issue, he told The Western Journal.

“The Berlin crisis was seen as the start of the real Cold War,” Bromund said.

“I think if we were 100 years in the future and we were looking back, we’d probably be writing the story of whatever happens with the PRC in the Pacific Ocean. … After the introductory first chapter, the big real first chapter would probably be about Taiwan,” he predicted.

Bromund believes the stakes are likely different.

“The Soviet Union had the potential, after it took Berlin, to steamroll over a good deal of Western Europe,” he said.

However, if China were to take over Taiwan, it likely would not seek to invade such U.S. allies as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. But it could result in U.S. allies backing away and taking a more neutral stance toward China.

Further, a successful PRC military occupation of Taiwan would result in Beijing dominating one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes (i.e., the supply chain) through the Taiwan Strait.

Ronald Reagan showed the way during the Cold War.

His “peace through strength” model is needed now as much as it was then.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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