Exclusive: Would a Taiwan Strait war be the same as the Russo-Ukrainian War?  Former Catalan MP: Taiwan should be worried but also breathe a sigh of relief

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It has been more than a month since Russia invaded Ukraine. Although Ukraine is fighting alone and has received material support from Western democracies, including military weapons, Russian troops continue to encircle Kyiv east, south, and north. Taiwan, which is in a similar situation to Ukraine, is also listed as a “tinderbox” by the international media. In an interview with Eat News, Alfons López Tena, a former member of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary and a former member of the Catalan Parliament, said that Taiwan should be worried but also breathe a sigh of relief.

Is the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk the same as the independence of Catalonia?

While Catalonia’s independence was opposed and suppressed by the Spanish government and the European Union, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the eastern part of Ukraine had a different fate. They were recognized by Russia, one of the five permanent members of the United Nations. Russia even sent troops and military aid to these two “countries”. When asked by journalists, as a Catalan pro-independence politician, what he thought of the awkwardness of Donetsk and Luhansk becoming independent with Russian support, López Tena responded, “It’s a joke!” He argued that Donetsk and Luhansk are just a “province” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, just like Crimea, and that this is just part of the Putin regime’s plan to invade and occupy Ukraine which started in 2014. López Tena argues that Donetsk and Luhansk are, therefore, “independent states” which is simply window dressing for another country to invade Ukraine. “I mean, Catalonia used to have a real country, our history, our traditions, our people, and our language.”

While the Putin regime is waging war by making Ukraine’s east independent, there are different voices in Europe…

Anti-American left-wing parties are caught in a dilemma of whether to condemn Russia or not

Pedro Sánchez, the incumbent Spanish prime minister of the Socialist Labor Party, has announced that he will send weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia, causing discontent among the leftist parties with which he forms a coalition government. Ione Belarra, secretary-general of the leftist Unidos Podemos party and minister of social rights, criticized Sánchez’s decision, claiming that diplomacy is the best way to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Ione Belarra’s peace proposal was supported by former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and far-left French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This could lead to the breakup of the Spanish coalition government and early parliamentary elections.

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López Tena said that in the past, leftist parties like those in Latin America and Europe, especially far-left parties, like the current Spanish coalition government, were happy to see such an international crisis because they could blame the United States, blame NATO, blame the West because that was their slogan. But in the current Russo-Ukrainian war, it is difficult to maintain this position because it is clear who the aggressor is.” López Tena stressed that the anti-American left-wing parties would have a little difficulty in adapting.

López Tena believes that the left-wing camp is still divided on this issue but should unite as soon as possible under the same position. “The (Spanish) ruling party should give Ukraine military aid, not only defensive but also offensive weapons.” According to López Tena, it is a question of how to adapt the original position to reality. This has been a problem in the world, because the far left or leftists are uncomfortable with blaming Russia, blaming Putin, just because they are mainly anti-American.

Despite this, López Tena stressed that now, all sanctions are decided not at the national level but in the EU. “Thankfully, the EU has been united in its willingness to act rather than waste time in committees and all these bureaucracies,” he said. The sanctions against Russia were established jointly by all EU countries. So, even though a left-wing party rules Spain, it does the same thing as France, Germany, Italy, or Poland. The only different country is Hungary because it has many ideological ties to Putin and his regime. López Tena referred to what Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wrote on Facebook a few days ago, “We do not allow weapons supporting Ukraine to cross Hungarian territory.”

In addition, López Tena mentioned the obligation to protect member states under the EU treaties. Therefore, if Sweden and Finland, which have had many military conflicts with Russia in their history, are attacked by the Putin regime, they will be protected. At the same time, Russia’s actions will be considered an attack on all EU countries.

Western “guarantees” and the embarrassment of avoiding nuclear war

Thirty years ago, Ukraine seized the opportunity provided by the collapse of the Soviet Union and become independent. Moscow left thousands of nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil, including 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 1240 atomic warheads, and a total of about 5000 tactical nuclear weapons, making Ukraine the third-largest nuclear power in the world. However, Ukraine was forced to “denuclearize” under the pressure of the five major powers of the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s “territorial integrity and political independence” by signing the Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances.

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Thirty years later, Russia under Putin invaded Ukraine, leading Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to repeatedly criticize Western countries, including NATO and the EU, for not fulfilling their promises. López Tena believes that the politics and policies come from the western European countries, the United States, and NATO. Since World War II, the military aims of the West have been to contain and deter enemies, but not to go to war in a direct nuclear mode. However, if a dictator invades a NATO member state, then we will fight back in any way we can, and that is NATO. ” López Tena cited the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968 when the people of those two countries rebelled against the Soviet-established puppet government without any military intervention by the West. “Since the end of World War II, the central policy of the United States and the Soviet Union or Russia has been not to have a nuclear war between the two countries and between the two armies.” López Tena believes that this is the biggest reason no one has seen the U.S. or NATO send troops to support Ukraine.

If NATO does not send troops to support Ukraine, should Taiwan be worried?

One of the reasons NATO is not willing to send troops to support Ukraine is because Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Like Ukraine, Taiwan is not a member of any international organization and has not been approved to join any military alliance of Western democracies. If China invades Taiwan, should the Taiwanese be worried that the West will not send troops to support Taiwan? López Tena said frankly, “Yes.” He stressed, “But one thing that Taiwan or the people of Taiwan can rejoice in today is that the response from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan, among others, has been overwhelming. The extent of the sanctions is unprecedented, and the Russian economy is collapsing now, the ruble that currency is worth less than the paper it’s printed on, foreign companies are leaving, etc. Russia is not Somalia. It is a country enmeshed in the global economy, with capital trade and currency flows. So what does China see for this? China now has a leadership that has one priority from the beginning, and that is to keep power, to have absolute power, and to keep it forever, so that is their main, unique, only goal. So what I see now is that an overwhelming army on paper is taking over another independent country in a matter of weeks. It’s not that easy when people oppose it. And when democracies resist and establish sanctions against aggressors, it will give hope to the Taiwanese, and China should learn this lesson that if you want to stay in power in your own country, you better not go down this road”.

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López Tena stressed that when a country crosses the red line and starts a war of aggression, its economy will collapse, even though you will not face a military counterattack from allied nations. That’s why people in any country don’t want to do that. López Tena does not think that China is ready to invade Taiwan.

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Dennis Peng is a Taiwanese journalist. He was a professor at National Taiwan University, host of Next TV, host of Formosa Television, and created the Do Post, a digital media. After criticizing the ruling party and being expelled by FTV, he founded the Economic and Political Media.

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Fausto Chou is a Taiwanese journalist. He has been the executive editor of the Eat News since June, 2020. He previously worked for the Eastern Television (ETTV) and Formosa Television (FTV) as a journalist.

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