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posted on 01 December 2015

Obama Put Taiwan On ISIS Radar

from EconMatters, EconMatters.com

One big news widely reported in Taiwan right now is that the national flag of the Republic of China (R.O.C. Taiwan) appears on ISIS web site video. Above is a screenshot of the video with Taiwan's flag prominently displayed along side that of the U.S. and U.K. The flags are supposedly in alphabetical order by country name. The video was posted on ISIS web site on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015.

According to a partial video on a Taiwan TV news show, ISIS also sends this errie message:

Our number only increases with faith. And we are counting your banners, which our prophet says when it reaches 80, then the Blaze of War will find you.

You might wonder how ISIS came as far as seeing Taiwan as an equal threat as the U.S.? Taiwan's news media linked ISIS's sudden recognition of Taiwan to a statement made by U.S. President Obama at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia last week. Obama said that Taiwan was one of the Asia-Pacific countries in a coalition against ISIS. By the way, Taiwan is not even a member of ASEAN where Obama made this statement.

It is true that Taiwan's military and Special Forces have heavy American military DNA. Due to the constant threat from China across a narrow strait, Taiwan has relatively heavy military defense (for a small island). A lot of Taiwan's defense miliary technology is supplied by the U.S. companies (with obscene markups). Taiwan regularly sends military personnel to train in the U.S. while Taiwan's media reports U.S. Navy SEAL also sends trainers every so often to train one of the island's elite special forces units.

Read: Taiwan, The Democratic China

In response to Obama's latest 'recognition', Taiwan governmnet simply said its current focus is on providing humanitarian assistance (i.e., We are NOT involved with Obama's 'Coalition'). Indeed, Taiwan's involvement with the chaos in the Middle East has been humanitarian aid to the region such as donating 300 prefabricated houses and nearly US$10 million in medical supplies to the refugees.

This stance is understandable as Taiwan had an ISIS panic attack when in February 2015, ISIS official Twitter channel twitted a picture of what looks like Taipei 101 Building (never confirmed) under atack. This out-of-nowhere recognition by ISIS has prompted the Taiwan government to step up security measures, while President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) urged the public not to panic (Good luck with that).

Ever since the Chinese Nationalists Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan in 1949, it goes without saying that China has always viewed Taiwan as a renegade province that may be reclaimed by force if necessary. In the 60+ years since then, the tiny island country has transformed itself quite successfully thanks to a series of financial and economic reforms by the Nationalist Party (KMT), while millions were killed by Mao's Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. (On a side note, I'm not sure how the UK shadow chancellor thought it was funny to quote Mao in the Spending Review meeting.)

Read: China, Taiwan, Japan and The U.S. In the West Pacific

On the diplomatic front, Taiwan has sufferred many losses and betrayals. Despite the fact that the Republic of China (Taiwan) was one of the the five founding and PERMANENT members of the United Nation (U.N.), Taiwan was ousted by the U.N. on Oct. 25, 1971 when U.N voted to recongnize Mainland China and to expel the R.O.C Taiwan. Today, people in Taiwan still remember it as the day when the world sold R.O.C. out. Since then, U.N. only recognizes the Communist China as the only lawful representative of China and has rejected calls to make Taiwan a member. And Taiwan has almost always been excluded in any international economic pac (such as the TPP, AIIB and ASEAN) due to pressures from China.

Taiwan instead strives to maintain extensive unofficial ties with countries that do not recognise it, focusing on trade, investment, culture and cooperation in non-political areas. Today, Taiwan has more than 100 representative offices in over 70 countries, including four offices in Australia (hense this detailed Taiwan brief on Australian Government site).

Read: China, Vietnam, Russia and U.S. in The South China Sea

The sad fact remains that currently only 22 states (most of them you have never heard of) in the entire world recognize Taiwan as the Republic of China (ROC). I guess the number should be 23 now, adding ISIS?

Citizens in Taiwan actually do not appreciate Obama's sudden 'warm and fuzzy' officially putting the island on ISIS radar. After all, the U.S. does not even recognize Taiwan nor has helped Taiwan in anything of real economic or polical benefits. And now Taiwan is suddently 'an ally' of the U.S. in a coalition against ISIS? But of course.

ISIS already angered China after executing a Chinese captive last week. Then, there's rising tension between China and U.S. over disputes in the South China Sea and The East Pacific. So when Obama opens his mouth 'recognizing' Taiwan, ISIS jumps on it just to provoke China even more.

This is a chess match between ISIS, China and the U.S. using Taiwan as a game piece. If ISIS strikes Taiwan (think the casualties at Paris in the much larger and stronger France), on whose hands will the blood be?

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