TAIPEI (Reuters) – It is inappropriate to link Taiwan’s situation to that of Ukraine’s as the two are completely different and people should not try to manipulate the situation by saying “today’s Ukraine is tomorrow’s Taiwan”, the government said on Monday.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being watched closely in Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and which has faced increased military pressure from Beijing over the last two years as it tries to force Taipei to accept Chinese sovereignty.
Taiwan’s democratically elected government has repeatedly said the island’s situation and Ukraine’s are fundamentally different.
But Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng, in a statement released at the end of a long holiday weekend, took those comments a step further to decry fear-mongerers, elaborating on why people should not to believe rumours.
Taiwan is not only important geopolitically, it has a natural barrier of the Taiwan Strait – which separates it from China – and is a key part of the global high-tech supply chain, he added, referring to its major role in making semiconductors.
“In all areas, the two cannot be compared,” Lo added.
“But there are those using this opportunity to manipulate the so-called (topic) of ‘today’s Ukraine, tomorrow’s Taiwan’, trying to inappropriately link Ukraine’s situation with Taiwan’s, disturbing people’s morale. This is inadvisable.”
Because of China’s frequent “schemes” against Taiwan, the government does take stock of materials needed in the event of war, and this month conducted a routine annual review of air raid shelters, but people should not draw a connection between this and the war in Ukraine, he said.
President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang have repeatedly stressed government departments should step up efforts to combat “external forces using the Ukraine-Russia conflict to carry out cognitive warfare against us”, Lo added.
Taiwan has reported no unusual military movements by China since the war began, but has stepped up its alert level.
On Monday, Taiwan reported seven Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone but far from the island itself, part of a pattern of what the government calls China’s “grey zone” warfare designed to wear out Taiwanese forces by making them regularly scramble.
The Chinese government has also said the issues of Ukraine and Taiwan cannot be linked as the island has always been an inalienable part of China.
Taiwan strongly disputes China’s territorial claims, and says only the Taiwanese people can decide their own future.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Bernadette Baum)