The Chinese Communist government on Wednesday blasted Taiwan for sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine and supporting sanctions against Russia, accusing the island of “taking advantage of others’ difficulties” to score political points against Beijing.
“The Democratic Progressive Party authorities are using the Ukraine issue to validate their existence and piggyback on a hot issue, taking advantage of others’ difficulties,” snarled spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is the governing party of Taiwan.
“Their attempts to incite confrontation and create hostility through political manipulation will not succeed,” Zhu vowed.
Furious outbursts over humanitarian aid to civilians trapped in a war zone might seem odd even for the Chinese Communist regime, but Beijing’s specific concern is that Taiwan is trying to make China look bad for refusing to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and capitalize on worldwide sympathy for the besieged Ukrainians by highlighting Taiwan’s position as the potential victim of a perpetually threatened Chinese invasion.
The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced an $11.5 million donation to Ukrainian refugees on Tuesday, bolstering $3.5 million pledged this month. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen kicked in one month of her salary to the cause.
Taiwanese citizens have been exceptionally generous to the Ukrainian relief effort, pouring millions of dollars in donations into relief accounts coordinated through Taiwanese government offices in Poland and giving millions more to church groups. In addition to cash, Taiwanese donors have sent food, blankets, medical products, and diapers to Ukraine.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) last week asked for donations of “sleeping bags, thermal clothing, milk powder, medicines, and medical accessories” to help Ukrainian refugees.
“The goods will be sent to European countries bordering Ukraine and distributed to Ukrainian refugees through local relief agencies,” MOFA said, setting March 18 as the end date for its relief campaign.
According to CNA News, half of the ministry’s parking lot was piled with donations within three days.
“To be attacked this way and through rather unfair means makes people feel a sense of compassion and empathy. So, Taiwanese are quite willing to donate aid,” board member Ku Chung-hua of the advocacy group Citizens’ Congress Watch explained to Voice of America News (VOA) on Wednesday.
Other Taiwanese donors who spoke to VOA were even more explicit about the “Ukraine today and Taiwan tomorrow” connection, as CEO Joanna Lei of the Chunghua 21st Century Think Tank put it. Some compared the strong Taiwanese empathy for Ukrainians to Taiwan’s support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in 2019 (which, in turn, was partially inspired by the 2014 pro-Europe protests in Ukraine).
Taiwan underlined its resistance to becoming the next Ukraine on Wednesday by holding live-fire drills in the Matsu archipelago, conducting target practice with artillery and machine guns.
The drills were described as “routine,” but the South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted that the exercises were held on the islet of Dongyin, which was closely overflown by a Chinese propeller aircraft in February – a small but unusually deep penetration of Taiwanese airspace that might have been a test of Taiwan’s defensive response.
Analysts noted that Dongyin, which has only about 1,500 residents, is heavily fortified with anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles, making it a strategically vital outlying location that would have to be suppressed early in a Chinese attack on Taiwan.