WATCH: Wallace is wrong about Taiwan, but so is the entire Irish political establishment

Mick Wallace, the independent MEP for the Ireland South constituency, earlier this week gave an interview to the Chinese state press agency Xinhua.

He is in China as part of a delegation that also includes Dublin MEP, Clare Daly, who shares his admiration for China and indeed the Islamic Republic of Iran and other places who for various reasons still claim the affections of random leftists who would last little time in some of the countries they profess to admire.

In the interview, Wallace states that “Taiwan is part of China” on the basis that it lies off the mainland of the People’s Republic of China. He also claimed that the United States with the support of the EU has been “antagonising about Taiwan,” and has called on the EU to adopt a “more holistic approach … independent of US imperialism.”

Whether China needs provocation given that it has engaged in threats and intimidation of Taiwan for over 70 years, is moot.

What is not moot is the fact that the Chinese Communist Party has an appalling history of mass murder and repression that continues to the present day in its genocide of the Uyghur people, the ongoing cultural genocide in Tibet that followed the actual physical genocide of more than one third of its people, and the day-to-day denial of basic human rights to all of its citizens including those who now come under the Party’s control in Hong Kong.


The interviewer was Zhang Meifang who is the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast. Meifang is travelling with the delegation and the interview took place in the central region of Chongqing.

But Wallace is not the only Irish left liberal politician to have met with Zhang Meifang.

Sinn Féin’s former Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill disputed the Belfast Consulate’s claim that she and then First Minister Arlene Foster of the DUP had endorsed the Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong during a video call in 2020.


However, records released in May last year do not support O’Neill’s version of events, nor her claim that she had raised concerns over what was happening in Hong Kong.

In fact, the minutes released by the Stormont Executive office state that “”FM and dFM emphasised they were aware of the issues and stressed their desire for the situation to be resolved for all concerned and to enable links with HK to continue.”

Not only does that sustain the Consulate’s version of what took place, but there is no reference in their own office’s records to O’Neill or Foster raising any concerns about the situation from a human rights perspective.

While historically the island of Taiwan, formerly Formosa, has enjoyed a complicated history riven between the old mainland imperial dynasties and the periodic attempts by the Japanese to turn it into a colony, its history since 1949 has been defined by the surviving tensions between the victorious Communists and the defeated Kuomintang (KMT) in the Civil War that followed their combined defeat of the Japanese in World War II.

The KMT, led by Chiang Kai-shek, removed the army and administration of the Republic of China – which remains the official name of the state – to Taiwan. Although it remained under military rule until the 1980s, the island has prospered economically and is now a stable democracy.

The status of Taiwan internationally, however, has been dependent on the attitude of the western powers towards Communist China.

In November 1971, the United Nations voted to recognise the Communist state as the sole legitimate government of all of China, bolstering the Communist claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.  The UN had rejected compromise motions including one that would have allowed the people of Taiwan self-determination.

The Irish state was one of the 76 who supported the Albanian motion to recognise the People’s Republic of China. This, in fact, lends substance to observations that Mick Wallace was doing no more than stating the official position of the Irish Republic. There have been occasional calls by people here, including the odd member of the Oireachtas, to establish formal ties with the government in Taipei, but they have been ignored.

The main Irish attitude towards Taiwan across the political spectrum differs little from the consensus that unites virtually the Irish political establishment including most of the liberal left – although in fairness the Trotskyist far left has been among the more vocal critics of the Communist regime – on almost every contentious issue within western politics.

The state can simply refer to the UN vote as set in stone and mutter platitudes about “using our influence as a friendly nation” on human rights issues; while there are clearly people in Sinn Féin like who are open, if not sympathetic, to taking the Chinese view on issues such as the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong. The party’s juvenile section has also tweeted pro Chinese Communist inanities in the recent past.

The Ireland China Institute is an organisation which has seemed broadly unconcerned with the endless human rights abuses committed in China, but rather concerned with developing economic links with that country. It has as its patrons chaps like former Taoisigh Brian Cowan and Enda Kenny and former Tánaiste Ruairí Quinn. And let’s not forget that the Irish Times which thought that a century of Communist Party terror was worthy of celebration in its illustrious pages.

So while Mick Wallace is deserving of being “called out” on his candid backing for the aggressive stance of the Chinese Communists regarding Taiwan, which may or may not one day lead to open military attack, he is not an outlier when it comes to support for General Secretary Xi’s “great achievement.” Nor are his motives any the nobler.

And as with historical support for totalitarianism, it does not matter one whit whether that moral lapse is sought to be justified by mealy mouthed diplomacy dictated by balance of trade, or a naïve belief among the dimmer members of the soft left that Chinese totalitarianism is somehow “progressive.”



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