Why China Offered Taiwan Earthquake Aid—and Why Taiwan Quickly Rejected It

TLocal authorities have yet to say how much money will be spent on the damage caused a large, deadly earthquake that hit the island on Wednesday, which made landfall houseto fall water towersand reason landslides which destroyed roads and other infrastructure. The cost of repairing the last earthquake of this scale—in 1999 and even bigger ones—they came close $10 billion.

A hundred years ago, Taiwan refused help from its distant neighbor China, and when a request for help came again this week, Taiwan quickly refused.

“It’s not really kindness because you’re always threatened,” Lev Nachman, an assistant professor of political science at National Chengchi University in Taipei, tells TIME about China’s offer and Taiwan’s urgency to see it through.

Read more: Pictures of the Devastation After the Taiwan Earthquake

“We are very grateful to the Chinese side for their concern,” the Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council said words The Taiwan Affairs Office of the mainland China State Council soon took action on the tragedy on Wednesday. “There is no need for the Chinese side to help in the disaster caused by this earthquake.”

Earlier, Mr. Zhu Fenglian, the spokesperson of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. he said: “The affected parties on the mainland are very worried and offer their condolences to the people of Taiwan affected by this accident. They will monitor the disaster and its aftermath, and are prepared to provide disaster relief. “

Chinese media reported that the earthquake occurred in “China and Taiwan,” and by giving aid, says Ja Ian Chong, associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, “it is trying to reaffirm the fact that it is doing something for what it sees as its domestic goals.”

Experts say that Taiwan’s immediate resistance was caused by anger at the way the earthquake happened in 1999. At the time, authorities in Taiwan explained that Beijing was trying to manage relief efforts to keep people from suffering.very inappropriate.” China also stood in the way of The UN’s capacity to provide earthquake relief in 1999, and continues to demonstrate in international forums to deny Taiwan recognition and full participation by governments and other organizations.

Read more: China Slams Singapore And Philippines For Praising Taiwan Victor Election

“The aid from China is always mutual,” Chong told TIME, explaining the Taiwanese government’s refusal to allow China to participate in the current recovery effort. He also pointed to deep mistrust of China among Taiwanese based on Beijing’s insistence, which has increased in recent years, that the island is part of the Republic and that the two will soon be reconciled, by force if necessary.

“There are serious doubts about the purpose of [China]because of the fear of these soldiers,” says Chong, pointing to the approaching People’s Liberation Army. flyovers and warships around the island“because of not wanting to walk away from the threat of using force to increase control in Taiwan.”

Taiwan recently reaffirmed its desire for independence when its people voted for another four years of rule by China’s dubious Democratic People’s Party. William Laithe president-elect who will take office in May, he said When the voters went to the polls in January, “Our door will always be open to cooperate with Beijing under the principles of friendship and respect,” adding: “Although we want peace, we are not ideological.”

Read more: The Taiwan Election Is Not a Disaster for Xi Jinping, Unless He Makes One

As for China, it may be expected to take action in Taiwan, says Nachman. In making its offer that could have been rejected, China “was not giving real kindness but setting up Taiwan to look bad, especially… [China] they would say, ‘Look, Taiwan is rejecting our kindness.'”

Ultimately, observers say the back-and-forth on aid is an unacceptable distraction. “Taiwan’s focus in the coming days must be on the lives of its people,” Karishma Vaswani, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist focused on Asian politics, wrote recently. paragraph. “If China really wants to help, then it should leave Taipei.”

Taiwan’s response to China’s aid offering this week is in stark contrast to Japan’s offer. Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida took to social media X On Wednesday to offer condolences to those affected by the earthquake, adding that Japan is “ready to provide the necessary assistance to Taiwan, our maritime neighbor, in times of crisis” – to which Lai responded. in Japanese: “Your words move our hearts and represent the strong relationship between Taiwan and Japan. Let’s continue to support each other and hold hands to overcome these difficult times. “

contact us to letters@time.com.

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