Analysis | Why risk angering China at Copenhagen Summit?

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at an event (Photo courtesy of CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is set to attend the upcoming Copenhagen Democracy Summit via video link, but many fear the risky move may be pushing the envelope too far with China.

Tsai will share Taiwan’s accomplishments in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s success stories on its road to democracy, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to talk about “China and the challenge to free societies.”

Pompeo, who had previously been called by China state broadcaster CCTV, the “common enemy of mankind” was once again chastised by Chinese officials for inviting Tsai to appear at the same forum in alleged contradiction to the “one-China” policy.

According to foreign media, Wang Huiyao, founder and president of the think tank Centre for China and Globalisation, deemed the summit “inappropriate.”

Despite China not being a democratic country, the official was quoted saying, “If they invite these people but not the Chinese side, then this is not appropriate since we should have both sides represented.”

In addition, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, a regular target of Chinese state media, is also set to attend the panel to speak about “fighting for democracy from the battlegrounds of Hong Kong” — another move which will trigger China’s anger. 

There will be for sure a consensus among the speakers at the conference toward defining China as part of the many problems in the region, ranging from cross-strait relations and the South China Sea to trade deficit and democracy.

Yet, the fact is that countries and regions such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, the European Union and the United States cannot succeed in their respective agenda without making China part of the solution too.

That is a major concern with public forums like the Copenhagen Democracy Summit which should consider inviting speakers such as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam or Chinese Premier Li Keqiang too and pushing for finding solution to never-ending conflicts.

Most people seem to like simple categorical ways to divide up information in the world we live. This is equally worrisome given how terribly complex and nuanced most things are – especially politics and trade.