Why support Taiwan? The heartbeat of free markets is one reason

Scooter-packed street in Nanshijiao, Taipei
Scooter-packed street in Nanshijiao, Taipei

During a recent jaunt to Taiwan, I found myself waking up to the busy sounds of a day market in Nanshijiao, Taipei. The combined cacophony of chattering neighbors, honking motorbikes and not-so-delicate pounds of metal on pig flesh were to be my alarm clock for the duration of the stay.

While Taiwan is known for it’s markets, it is usually those that set up after nightfall that are given lengthy mentions in guide books; not just because the added opportunities to “window shop” for clothes, but because of the lack of acrid odors that accompany day markets, also aptly known as wet markets because of the ever-present residue they leave behind.

The convenient butchers and food vendors in day markets, if at times irritating neighbors, struck me as a major element absent in top-tier cities throughout mainland China. The government has made painstaking efforts to push day markets out of cities in recent years, often evicting nearby residents to clear and rebuild the downtrodden areas. But in doing so, I realized, China has eliminated all the vim of naturally maturing free markets I associate with Taiwan and ASEAN countries.

In an op-ed this week with the NYT, broken down in this Foreign Policy piece, a theory positing that the US’s debt could be bought back from China by trading the $1.14 trillion owed for a promise to stop selling arms to Taiwan.

This is a bold stance brought about by disillusions with increasingly dicey economic and geopolitical times. But we should not lose sight.

I will forgo any tireless rant and state it simply: If the US is to tout free market democracy and all the human rights beats we march to, then we must continue to support Taiwan as a fellow advocate and partner. To not do so would be utter hypocrisy.

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