Sunday, June 28, 2015

What Authoritarian Regimes Don’t Want You to See

Depending on where you were on Saturday night, you may have missed some of the highlights from the Golden Melody Awards 

If you were among the many people who tuned in to Taiwan’s 26th Golden Melody Awards (金曲獎) on Saturday night, there is a chance that you didn’t get to see the full show — at least if you were watching from Singapore or China. 

Organized by the Ministry of Culture, the annual event, which was first held in 1990, is Taiwan’s own Grammy Awards, with prizes for best songs and artists performing in the variety of languages spoken in the country. As often happens at such galas, the more civic-conscious winning artists will use the few minutes they have at their disposal to say a few things about politics and other issues — gay and human rights, war, and other matters of public interest. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here (photo by the author).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

同性婚姻在台灣:為了進步、現代性及國際能見度而發聲

反對同性婚姻的人就是講不出道理。跟反同性婚姻運動的領導人之一參加同一場座談,你就明白了。

我想,作為用英文寫作的記者中極少數持續追蹤台灣同性婚姻議題的人,我獲邀參加1月3日台灣師範大學舉辦的「同性婚姻模擬研討會」,也是再自然不過。

當我收到議程,得知自己要和「台灣宗教守護家庭大聯盟」(他們的「家庭」專指異性婚姻家庭)發言人張全鋒同場對談,我幾乎按捺不住驚訝(老實說是興奮)。我和台灣大學健康政策與管理研究所的碩士生潘柏翰(Sean Pan)獲邀發言支持同性婚姻;以「反對同性戀婚姻立法的理由」作為講題的張先生顯然是反方,歐洲聯盟資深口譯員塔雅(Aline Tayar)則表達根本反對婚姻機制有效性的論點,也是言之成理。(作者自白:我再過20天就要結婚了)。

不用說,身為統一教(他們在西方更為人知的名字是「文教徒」,Moonies)成員的張先生,表現一點都沒讓人失望,如果你期望的是複誦「同性婚姻合法化如何導致社會敗壞」這類陳腔濫調的話。要是你還不知道統一教對同性婚姻的立場,以下這段文字引自他們的官網:「撒旦正在摧毀全世界的家庭,運用同性戀、自由性愛及道德敗壞等手段破壞人類的生命。」還有,教祖文鮮明牧師自己也用「吃屎的髒狗」「奉神之名將有一場清洗,邪惡會像陰影般消滅。同性戀也要被消滅。」之類的話敘述同性戀者。(統一教一向宣稱文牧師是用韓語講道的,我們無從理解他的真意。對我們來說,幸好其他同樣瘋狂的基督教派並不那麼謹慎小心,而且它們的領袖是說英語的美國人,例如國際禱告殿。)

張先生的發言是把「反修民法972」運動開始至今,我們已經聽過無數次的那些老話重說一遍:愛滋病蔓延;一路推到人獸交、亂倫及淫亂的滑坡論證;道德價值的崩壞;感情不忠(說得好像只有同性戀會亂搞);孩子的「權利」;「絕對性愛」(absolute sex)相對於「自由性愛」,如此這般。(既然他並不費心解釋「絕對性愛」的意思,我們只能推斷「絕對性愛」的含義大概包括男女交合使用傳教士體位,而且絕不在晚上七點前做!)張先生一度預言,就算我們現在看不到壞處,同性婚姻也會毀滅台灣,一如持續累積的各種弊病最終拖垮蘇聯;但是人人權利平等是怎樣和經濟政策失敗、對外戰爭,以及極權主義體制的自我腐蝕畫上等號的,他顯然不願多作解釋。

(圖:2013年台北同志大遊行的參加者之一)
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ccVEAXboKM4/Useebg9yt1I/AAAAAAAAFd0/P0ZMtc3-3EU/s200/DSC_8630.JPG

為證明自己的論點,張先生也播放一小段從今年同志大遊行擷取而來,近乎一絲不掛的男女舞蹈與集結的影片。他說,要是允許了同性婚姻,這樣的公開(public,我差點寫成陰部pubic)展示就要在社會上每天發生。參加過這兩年的同志大遊行之後,我可以確認有些人真的會為了遊行而扮裝,但他們既不占多數,也是為了表達訴求才這樣打扮,而在一年其他364天裡,他們的穿著和你我甚至張先生都沒甚麼兩樣。(事實上,我在遊行裡遇見過一個穿著女裝的男人,結果他是在誠品賣唱片給我好多年的店員。我花了一段時間才認出他來,我敢保證,我在店裡向他買唱片的時候,他穿的是一般服裝,化的粧也不比同事更厚。)我忍不住想問張先生有沒有在台灣參加過喪禮,在喪禮上都習慣請幾乎一絲不掛的女人為死者跳鋼管舞。對了,(張先生也說,)同志大遊行顯然也在提倡娛樂性用藥,這又是個徹頭徹尾的謊言。

張先生還宣稱許多支持同性婚姻的異性戀者不是為了關心社會正義、人權和平等,反倒是出於自私自利。像我這樣的人聲援同性戀,顯然是為了達成「性解放」和「自由性愛」,據說這才是我們夢寐以求又能從中牟利的。換言之,同性戀者只不過是達成目標的手段,被別有用心的人自私地當成工具。

接著又是賊喊捉賊(註1)的戲碼:張先生認為,推動反對歧視同性戀的修法就是在歧視基督徒;換句話說,不給他們歧視特定群體的權利......就是一種歧視!(這些可憐蟲。他們因此再也不能對同性戀造謠汙衊而不受法律制裁了。)不僅如此,張先生還說台灣與西方國家不同,不需要立法規範這種問題;神的律法就夠用了。我們由此看到了張先生的主權神學色彩(查查「主權神學」的含義,簡直駭人聽聞)。

我們這位文教徒朋友還說,許多反對同性婚姻的人,特別是那些在民意調查中不表示意見的人,是因為擔心受壓迫而不敢公開表態;說得好像同性戀者及其聲援者們才是要從反對者身上剝奪反對者早已享有的權利的兇手一般。

張先生及其他教會領袖最有趣的共通點是,他對於與肉體相關的一切事物都很明顯地感到不適。他的外貌與身體都無法放鬆,只要談到性行為,音量更是減弱到近乎喃喃自語。當他簡短提及皮繩愉虐(BDSM)及其他非正規的性行為型態(噢,肛門周邊的皮膚竟然這麼容易破!),我們幾乎聽不到他在說甚麼,而所有這些顯然全都是惡劣的、危險的,說到底是敗德的。這種對於關於性的一切所表現的不安,在恐同人士和反對同性婚姻人士的身上竟是如此普遍的現象,其成因值得深究。

當然,我們完全不可能改變他的觀點。他有宗教上的「真理」和足以填滿整本百科全書的不可證明事物(unprovables)做為後盾,遇到任何質疑就只是像跳針的唱片那樣,一再重複他偏執的論點。(或許是因為「謊言說了一百遍就是真理?」)從現場聽眾的組成看來,我很難想像張先生能夠成功讓任何人支持他的說法,甚至有好幾次,在他大張撻伐時,我都看見聽眾們強忍住笑、直翻白眼,或者難以置信地搖頭。我必須正襟危坐,畢竟我正在參加研討會,而且就坐在他旁邊;但我還是忍不住翻了好幾次白眼。我的感覺還真像是坐上時光機重回中古黑暗時代那樣。

他們越是努力走出教會的孤島,向世人展現自己的本色,收到的效果就越惡劣;而我們距離台灣及世界各地最終立法准許同性婚姻,也就更近了一步。

* * *

我們就不提張先生了,以下是我在規定的20分鐘時段的發言,講題是「台灣的同性婚姻:促進發展,現代化與提升國際能見度」。

不論反對同性婚姻的一方怎麼說,同性戀既不是疾病,也不是後天選擇或經由環境接觸而「習得」的。同性戀存在的關鍵在於生物學。以下是我個人的實例:家母是在魁北克市南邊虔誠信奉天主教的聖路基村(St. Ludger)長大的(該市周邊的大多數村鎮也都以主保聖人命名),那時正是將一整套嚴格的羅馬天主教體系施加在社會各層面的杜普利西(Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis, 1890-1959)政權下台後不久。從很小的時候開始(她現在60幾歲了),全世界都告訴她同性戀是「壞的」、「不道德的」,而且是一種病。就我所知,她長大的時候身邊並沒有同性戀,就算有,也沒人敢「出櫃」。

那麼,她又是怎麼被「逮到」或者「學會」成為同性戀的?這兩個詞都是恐同人士很常用的。她又是怎麼從很小的時候就知道自己喜歡女生的?為什麼和一個終身虔誠信教,還得到神學士學位的好男人(家父)長達16年的一夫一妻婚姻無法「治療」她,改變她的性向?答案就在生物學。同性戀是自然發生的現象,無論我們接受與否,我們都是自然與演化的產物。我們不可能置身於演化之外,這又是教會常用的另一套說詞,尤其是創造論者和「智能設計論」提倡者。

沒有任何一點證據足以證明台灣一旦立法准許同性婚姻,據說就會遭逢的那一切危害(愛滋病及其他性病、淫亂、人獸交、亂倫、社會認同混淆等等)。當然,除非這樣的信念是近似於美國牧師布雷(Michael Bray)的,且讓我從道金斯(Richard Dawkins)《上帝的迷思》一書(頁270)引述布雷的說法:「當神決定降下天災打擊一個窩藏罪人的城鎮,無辜的公民就有遭受附帶損害(Collateral damage)的風險。」

同性婚姻問題產生的唯一不穩定因素,正是來自於反對者:如同俄羅斯、烏干達那樣的仇恨宣傳戰,謊言,宗教極端主義,諸如此類;或者也來自於對事實真相產生負面反應的人(仇恨、恐嚇、家庭破裂等等)。

當然會有人用「如果論」質疑我的說法:「要是同性婚姻在你父母那一代就已經合法,你媽媽就會嫁給另一個女人,你爸爸也會跟別人結婚,那你就不可能出生了。」這是當然的。儘管我很樂意覺得自己很特別,做為一個記者也能對社會做出正向的貢獻,但我既非不可取代,也不是為了甚麼目的而生的。我爸爸要是和別的女人生下了孩子,他長大了說不定會發現治療癌症的藥呢。(反過來說,也有可能成為希特勒再世,但是反同性婚姻聯盟的某些成員似乎不太介意這點。)

你媽媽要是和別的女人結婚,就生不出小孩了。錯。代理孕母、試管嬰兒和收養都是選項,至於最後一個選項,被同性結婚的雙親收養看來會比在傳統家庭遭受虐待,或是在孤兒院長大更勝一籌。我從來就不信同性戀家庭長大的小孩會搞不清楚自己是誰或性向如何這種鬼話。

反對同性婚姻的一方提出的主張純粹是基於道德論的(「真愛」相對於「不完全的愛」),它必須有憑有據,卻又無從證明。它又是依據聖經的斷言,以及人只能透過聖經學習道德觀的信念做出的論斷。那麼,不相信基督教的幾十億人口又要怎麼說?難道他們都不道德,或是超越道德嗎?當然不對,有足夠的證據說明道德的發展是獨立於宗教聖典之外的,甚至常常與宗教信念相悖。

他們的說法是這樣:同性婚姻不道德,因為聖經說它不道德;透過人造的法律將它合法化就會摧毀道德,讓同性戀在世間傳染,最終天下大亂。按照這個邏輯,一個將殺人合法化的國家很快就會淪為隨處屠殺的修羅場;而這種狀況之所以沒發生,是因為我們內在的道德感。我們都知道殺人是錯誤的,不需要(人造的或神訂定的)法律來告訴我們這點。同性婚姻也是如此:同性婚姻合法化並不會增加同性戀行為,因為異性戀都知道自己是異性戀,沒有同性戀傾向。

反之,同性婚姻合法化更有助於社會穩定,因為它創造了維持穩定關係的動機。

還有「低生育率」論調:台灣目前已是全球生育率最低的國家,立法允許同性婚姻只會讓這個問題惡化。這是邏輯謬誤。無論法律是否允許同性婚姻,同性戀伴侶仍然會存在,除非透過代理孕母或試管嬰兒,也還是不會生下自己的小孩;而台灣的一夫一妻配偶也不會比現在多生或少生孩子。然而同性婚姻合法化反而能夠培養成功的收養與教養所不可或缺的穩定環境。

加拿大從十年前開始立法允許同性婚姻。但從來沒有任何經驗證據能證明同性婚姻合法化破壞社會穩定。加拿大從那時到現在一直都是全世界政治和社會最穩定的國家之一。

台灣可以開風氣之先,成為東亞第一個立法允許同性婚姻的國家。這是向中國以外的國際社會發出的強有力訊息。台灣社會大多數民意若非贊成同性婚姻(將近53%)就是事不關己(15-20%),這表示社會上並沒有大多數人的反對。

正如我在上個月發出的一系列報導所揭露的(註2),反對同性婚姻的組織及動員幾乎完全是基督教領軍的,他們不只在政府內部有強大影響力,同時運用著國外進口的說詞。我至今還沒看到過任何一套台灣在地原生的反對同性婚姻論述。(弔詭的是,反方卻宣稱同性婚姻這個概念本身就是西洋舶來品。)

同性婚姻不只是人權問題;它同時也是理性、邏輯,以及啟蒙思想對抗蒙昧愚民策略的課題。將同性戀正常化並推動平權,就能教導下一代接納和包容的價值,這恐怕才是一個社會追求進步最重要的方法,也是宗教團體和張先生這樣的人士理應提倡而非壓制的。


==
註1:J. Michael Cole, "The Perpetrator as Victim" (2013/12/18) http://fareasternpotato.blogspot.tw/2013/12/the-perpetrator-as-victim.html
註2:例如J. Michael Cole, "The Extremist Christian Infiltration of Taiwan" (2013/12/21)
http://fareasternpotato.blogspot.tw/2013/12/the-extremist-christian-infiltration-of.html

中譯:William Tsai

報導原文:"Same-sex marriage in Taiwan: A case for progress, modernity, and putting Taiwan on the map"
http://fareasternpotato.blogspot.tw/2014/01/same-sex-marriage-in-taiwan-case-for.html

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Strange Case of the KMT’s Hung Hsiu-chu

The KMT is in a process of adjustment before the 2016 elections, but it seems to be moving in the wrong direction 

There is something very bizarre going on at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) nowadays. Shaken by last year’s Sunflower Movement, a catastrophic showing in the November 29 nine-in-one elections and the removal of President Ma Ying-jeou as party chairman, there was every indication that the KMT would do the “rational” thing and move closer to the center so as to better align itself with the wishes of the electorate ahead of next January’s presidential and legislative elections. Instead, thanks to poor leadership by Chairman Eric Chu, Hung Hsiu-chu has emerged from left field as the prospective presidential candidate, and her platform, rather than seeking to reassure voters, reads as if it has been drafted in Beijing. 

With the more moderate members of the KMT seemingly standing by, Hung has forged ahead with a radical pro-Beijing policy that has much in common with the pro-unification New Party. In fact, a new term — the “New Party-ization of the KMT” — was recently coined to describe what has been going on at the KMT. Hung, who was vitriolic in her opposition to the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan, has also complained that controversial changes to school curricula, which present more China-centric material, are not going far enough. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

中國正在劫奪陳納德的遺產嗎?

89歲高齡的前飛虎隊員J.V. "Jay" Vinyard,和第二次世界大戰期間領導這支傳奇飛行隊的陳納德將軍(Gen . Claire Chennault)外孫女Nell Calloway都在開懷大笑著。同一張沙發上,坐在他們身邊的則是一個出人意表的人物:那個全副軍裝,正在饒有興味地端詳一張照片的人,是中華人民共和國國防部長梁光烈將軍。

梁光烈在多位中國人民解放軍將領陪同之下,這個月初來到維吉尼亞州的阿靈頓(Arlington, Virginia)會晤飛虎隊員後人,但他們其實不該出現在這個場合,陳納德若是地下有知,對他們的到來也會怒髮衝冠。這是因為梁光烈等人所代表的,正是陳納德對抗了一輩子的那個政權。1958年7月去世的陳納德,畢生都是個堅定不移的反共人士。

梁光烈在這次會面中表示,中美兩國人民有著長遠的友誼,同時列舉了二戰期間飛虎隊和中國人攜手抵抗日本人的一連串戰役。他說,中國人民永遠不會忘記這些功績。

陳納德確實曾經和中國人並肩作戰,但他的戰友是蔣介石領導的國民黨,而不是今天統治著中國的毛澤東傳人。隨著蔣介石的軍隊慘敗於中國共產黨之手,殘兵敗將逃到了台灣海峽彼岸,作為陳納德盟友的中國也就不復存在。從那時候起,陳納德就以當時盛行的摩尼教式二元對立思維看待台灣和中國,認為台灣是自由世界抵禦共產邪惡勢力的堡壘。要是陳納德今天仍然健在,無庸置疑,他必定會是最熱切支持台灣的人,他會盡一切力量確保台灣面對日益崛起、武力強大的中國仍有充分的自衛能力。

弔詭的是,陳納德的這個理念正是今天的某些中國和美國官員力圖抹殺的。不只透過梁光烈和飛虎隊員後人的會面,也透過他們在一座以這位備受爭議的飛行員為名的博物館之中扮演的角色。

陳納德一定會感到很荒謬,位於路易斯安那州,由他的外孫女Calloway擔任館長的陳納德航空軍事博物館,竟然收了涉嫌為中國人民解放軍從事間諜活動的華為科技公司提供的五萬美元作為擴建經費。同樣是這家公司,去年還為了博物館擴建事宜包辦了一場晚宴,並且現場抽獎贈送兩人同行中國七日遊。

就這樣,陳納德作為「自由中國之友」的名聲,正一點一點被令他深惡痛絕的另一個中國給挪用。陳納德博物館以及至今仍然健在的陳納德親人和戰友允許事態如此演變的後果,是不經意地讓北京得以劫奪陳納德的遺產,同時嘲弄他對台灣的堅定支持,這種事在他看來絕對是不可原諒的。(同樣耐人尋味的是,就在這個月稍後,親中促統的旺旺中時媒體集團旗下的中天電視台要派出一個製片團隊到路易斯安那州拍攝陳納德的紀錄片。)

就Calloway而言,她看來是真心誠意地相信外祖父也會認同自己的做法,她也同意接受本文的訪問。

「我的興趣只在於協助美國人民理解並感謝中國人民。」她在週三的一封電子郵件回信裡這麼說。

「我的外祖父在1937年來到中國。那時中國還沒有成為共產國家。他所看到的只是中國人民遭受的壓迫與苦難,因此他留了下來。大多數美國人都不知道日本人當時對中國人做了什麼。」她說:「我跟別人說日本人殺了2500萬到5000萬中國人,他們總是感到驚訝。」

Calloway說,中日戰爭在人們印象中是場被遺忘的戰爭,她接著說,她一直費盡心力要讓人們不只記得美國人的犧牲,也要記得中國人的犧牲。

「陳納德將軍支持的是中國人民。他甚至為戰火中失去雙親的孩子們辦了一間孤兒院。」她寫道。

關於她和梁光烈的會面,Calloway則強調推動雙方交流的重要性。

「上週的會面對我而言很重要,因為我覺得,我們如果能在強化兩國人民關係這方面開展雙方的交流,我們就能創造一個更好的世界。」她說。她也提到自己已經受邀去過中國好幾次,包括2010年和美國前總統卡特(Jimmy Carter)一起到浙江省的飛虎隊紀念館,為外祖父的雕像揭幕。

「中國人似乎非常感念飛虎隊為了他們國家的付出。北京有一座陳納德將軍的銅像,我媽媽曾經和它合照。我們和桂林的一座博物館『飛虎隊遺址公園』也是合作夥伴,陳納德將軍在戰爭期間曾經使用過的山洞指揮所就在那裡。」她說。

話題轉到台灣,Calloway說自己還沒去過台灣,但一直都想去。

「若能受邀和馬英九總統見面,將是我的榮幸。」她說:「我知道我的外祖父和其中一位叔叔戰後在那兒有一個家。我也聽說台灣有一座陳納德將軍的銅像,很想去看看。」

「我不是政治人物。我不需要認同他人的政治觀點,別人也不必認同我的,但至少我們都能理解歷史。」Calloway說。

然而,這起事件所涉及的其他人卻是與政治相關,並且有可能造成嚴重危害的。去年8月19日的那場盛宴上,華為高級副總裁丁耘(Charles Ding)身邊還站了另一位貴賓,那是美國海軍退役上將,曾任美軍參謀首長聯席會議副主席的歐偉廉(William Owens),自2006年起出任安盈控股公司(AEA Investors)駐香港首席執行官。安盈控股公司又是誰的合作夥伴?你猜對了,就是華為。(Calloway否認華為公司與解放軍有關。)

在歐偉廉等人近年來積極推動的美中兩國第二軌道外交「三亞倡議」(Sanya Initiative)之下,歐偉廉強烈鼓吹美國縮減對台軍售。三亞倡議的美方代表團成員,還包括曾任美國空軍參謀長的退役上將Ronald Fogleman、曾任美國陸軍副參謀長的退役上將John Keane,以及曾任美軍南方司令部司令的海軍陸戰隊退役上將Charles Wilhelm等人。

在2009年11月《金融時報》的一篇對頁評論中,歐偉廉將美國承諾確保台灣面對中國具有自衛能力的「台灣關係法」指為陳舊過時,對北京與華盛頓增進雙邊關係有百害而無一益。除此之外,三亞倡議會談更全力推動美國逐步終止對台軍售,以及中國解放軍同步減少第二砲兵部隊瞄準台灣的飛彈數量,但已經有些國防專家表示這種主張幼稚無知地不堪設想。

陳納德並不是最近幾年來唯一一個名譽在中國獲得恢復的反共歷史人物。他在二戰期間的老戰友1949年帶著潰敗的國民黨軍隊退守台灣,此後數十年來始終被中國共產黨醜化為雙手沾滿人民鮮血的暴君,如今也改頭換面成了一位被誤導的領袖,雖有缺點但功過參半。為了符合一整套以強化「一個中國」概念為終極目標的歷史敘事,作為毛澤東死敵的蔣介石被重新塑造出另一種形象。

一個接著一個,讓「兩個中國」或「一中一台」概念產生可信度的歷史巨人們,都在「統一戰線」修正主義的畫筆之下遭到塗抹刪改。悲哀的是,那些理當更瞭解狀況的人卻掉進了北京的圈套,結果不但無法真實呈現歷史,更有進一步戕害台灣作為一個自由、民主社會的存續空間之虞,而台灣有別於中國的獨特性理應受到珍重,而不是被看成美中加強雙邊關係的絆腳石。

而在同一時間,台灣的陳納德銅像終於在花蓮空軍基地的紀念館裡找到了容身之處。2006年8月出席儀式為銅像揭幕的其中一位台灣官員,如今正派駐在華盛頓,為了台灣向美國購買自衛所需的戰鬥機而奔走努力。這樣的努力必定也是陳納德所樂見的。

中譯:William Tsai
Original article: "Is the PRC hijacking Chennault's legacy?" (J. Michael Cole, Taipei Times, May 19, 2012)
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2012/05/19/2003533172

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Political Assassins Have Drawn their Knives

As long as hacks who have long been proven to be liars and fabricators are given a platform in the media, they will continue to undermine our democracy 

Oh my. It’s only June and already the talking head madness has already begun. If the past week is any indication, we’re in for an excruciating next seven months, during which triteness, outright lies, and accusations will hijack rational discussion and analysis of the upcoming presidential election. 

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which is in a bit of a bind nowadays, has already unleashed its critters. The usual suspects, individuals who have turned crass political attacks into an art form, are out. Tune in to any Taiwanese TV channel nowadays and you’re likely to come upon reports on Alex Tsai’s (蔡正元), Chiu Yi’s (邱毅), or other KMT legislators’ latest libelous attacks against Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). I will not dignify the mud that comes out of these hacks’ mouths by reprinting it here. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Beware China’s New National Security Law

New regulations that are currently being reviewed in China could put Taiwanese journalists at risk and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression 

In recent weeks the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has been reviewing a new set of laws that will come to be known as the “National Security Law” 《國安法》. Should it pass in its current form, there is a very real chance that Taiwanese journalists working in China could be netted as “criminals” for failing in their “shared obligation” to maintain China’s “national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

Why, you ask, should Taiwanese reporters (and presumably academics) be subject to domestic laws that govern the behavior of citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)? That’s because the new Law engages in what is known as extraterritoriality, with its drafters clearly stating that the said obligations apply to “all Chinese people,” which includes “compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.” 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here. (Photo by the author)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Black Island Book Launch at Café Philo in Taipei

Mark your calendars! The first book event for Black Island: Two years of activism in Taiwan will be held at Café Philo in Taipei on Thursday May 28, 2015, from 7-9pm. The author will give a brief talk, followed by a Q&A. Autographed copies will be available for NT$500. Limited quantities available.

Where: Café Philo (台北市紹興北街三號一樓, Taipei, Taiwan 10049) MRT Shandao Temple, Exit 6
When: Thursday, May 28, 2015, 7-9pm.

Sign up for the event here (recommended to evaluate number of attendants)
Official Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The US Position on the ‘1992 Consensus’: Why it Matters

Despite what President Ma has said, the U.S. does not recognize the so-called 1992 Consensus. Here's why it makes a difference 

As Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election approaches, the issue of the “1992 Consensus”—whether it exists, who signed it, who recognizes it, and how indispensible it is to cross-strait relations—has once again become the subject of heated debate. President Ma Ying-jeou, who has made the alleged consensus a cornerstone of his administration, has contended on a number of occasions, and did so again last week, that Beijing, Taipei, and the U.S. recognize its existence. Whether the construct actually exists or not is debatable. However, one thing that is certain is that Ma is being disingenuous when it comes to U.S. views on the matter: Washington does not recognize the 1992 Consensus—its official position is that it has “no position.” This may seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference. 

With the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) unwilling to embrace it, the “consensus” has become a handy tool for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which has long positioned itself as the party that is best able to handle relations across the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful and constructive manner. According to the KMT’s logic, the DPP’s refusal to recognize the consensus (in large part due to its presumption of “one China”) signifies that the latter is insincere in its desire to cultivate ties with Beijing (the KMT’s official line on the consensus is “one China” with different interpretations of what “one China” means, a precision that is evidently left out by Beijing). Also implied is that a DPP victory in January 2016 would mean a return to an atmosphere of contention and instability in the Taiwan Strait. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

What Would Taiwan Actually Gain from Unification with China?

Can we name one thing that the Taiwanese do not enjoy at present that China could offer to them? 

With a third transition of power in Taiwan in 2016 looking increasingly likely and attendant fears that a return of the Democratic Progressive Party into office could “jeopardize” relations with an intransigent regime in Beijing, the “Taiwan Question”—and more pointedly the matter of its official status—is once again a topic of interest among Asia experts and political analysts. 

Some, apprehending the high risks of maintaining security guarantees to Taiwan, have recently counseled a shift in U.S. policy aimed at striking a “grand bargain” with Beijing, ceding Taiwan in return for concessions by China on other longstanding territorial conflicts. At the heart of those lies a key question: Under which terms would Taiwan’s 23 million souls consider a political union with China as an acceptable outcome? 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

What’s Going On with President Ma?

With a year left before he must step down, Ma Ying-jeou is starting to sound a bit erratic. This could cause serious headaches for the KMT 

It’s been a constant over the years that as presidential elections approach, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) tone has tended to become more “Taiwan-centric” and, if only to secure the necessary votes, more attuned to the views held by the majority of Taiwanese. While we still don’t know who the KMT candidate for 2016 will be, there is every reason to believe that the party will once again use that strategy in the lead-up to January 16. Strangely, this time around there’s an outlier, someone who has been doing the exact opposite — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). 

Why the president, who normally emphasizes his “no unification, no independence” stance on cross-strait relations, has decided to do this now remains a mystery. It could very well be that as he is unable to run for a third consecutive term, and since he is no longer KMT chairman, Ma no longer feels constrained by the electoral forces that compel politicians to adopt a centrist line in public. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

從來沒人問過的問題:台灣人想要甚麼?

爭論台灣的命運之前,先思考台灣人要的是甚麼

距離台灣的總統和立法委員選舉還有八個月左右,各界多半看好在野的民主進步黨能夠勝選,對此,政治觀察家們在八年的空窗期之後,又開始預告台灣海峽兩岸未來即將面臨的危機。有些評論者唯恐雙方既有的矛盾重新激化,於是提出了各種別出心裁的方案,以求一勞永逸地解決「台灣問題」,同時防範台灣這個島國把美國拖進和中國不可收拾的全面衝突之中。這套理論無論是稱作「姑息」還是「大交換」,前提必定是台灣無法防衛或者不值得保護,因此對台灣的長期安全保障必須撤銷,讓台灣自謀生路。

最近幾周以來,懷特(Hugh White)和 Charles Glaser 等學者的言論,表面看來是預期台北和北京的關係將會重蹈升高對抗的覆轍,實際上要表達的卻是:不值得冒著經濟大規模崩壞、甚至與中國發生核戰的風險幫助台灣,調和兩岸才是唯一的出路。同時,美國海軍戰爭學院戰略研究系副教授金來爾(Lyle Goldstein)又在最新著作《與中國各退一步:緩和美中緊張對峙的方法》中,專門用一章篇幅擬定出一套計畫,按部就班斷絕美國對台灣的軍售,以換取中國放棄對台灣使用武力,最終透過「和平協議」與台灣實現政治統一。從金來爾過度樂觀的論點看來,台灣實在沒甚麼好怕的,因為中國「對待前英國殖民地(即香港)所謂的高壓手段,長久以來都是被西方給誇大了的」,台灣的民主政治「在大陸與台灣的一中邦聯架構下」還是能夠存續。就算金來爾承認2016年的大選結果可能讓事態變得更複雜,他還是能夠做出這樣的規劃,因為在他看來,從2008年到現在,和平已經在台海兩岸「迸發出來」;但這個看法完全沒有把幾個關鍵因素納入考量,下文還會進一步說明。

以上提到的這幾位紳士想方設法解決台海兩岸關係「僵局」的努力值得嘉許。解決複雜的問題總是需要新穎而獨創的思考,他們的動機也是無懈可擊的,我對此毫無疑問:防止對立升高、力求化解衝突當然是符合所有人利益的,中國和台灣也都能夠受惠。

可是,「大交換理論」最嚴重的問題,不只是單方面的姑息退讓未必能從北京那兒換得所期望的互惠,更在於所有這些賽局完全是強權說了算。台灣完全不具備任何能動性,就只被當成一件任人討價還價,可以為了其他承諾(例如:中國放棄對南海各島宣示主權,或同意美軍繼續在亞太地區駐紮)而交易出去的商品。而這些體面的紳士們就是懶得問一問台灣人對他們的提案究竟作何感想。他們也始終不提,這樣一個對台灣2300萬人民生命財產真正造成直接衝擊的「大交換」,理當由台灣人公民投票決定。

當然了,要是我們和金來爾一樣相信和平在台海兩岸「迸發出來」,延伸下來也就很有可能推定公民投票是不必要的,因為大多數台灣人都支持和中華人民共和國統一。但這種認知卻與實際情況最不相符。首先,北京根本不打算對台灣提出任何類似金來爾所謂「邦聯架構」的提案,它甚至也不能這麼做,因為給予台灣的任何優惠條件,可想而知都會引起中國其他地區比照要求,中國內部會因此而迅速陷入動盪(參看本文作者在《中國與國際安全:歷史、戰略及二十一世紀政策》一書中發表的專文〈是國族壯大還是毒藥?台灣與中國追求「統一」的歷程〉)。正如中國國家主席習近平早已明白揭示的,中國給予台灣的唯一選擇就是「一國兩制」,這正是台灣人民完全不能接受的。

不論是有意為之或是無心忽略,就是沒有人把台灣人對這個議題應有的發言權這一點列入考慮。這是十分弔詭的,因為這個問題要是交由台灣人民公投決定,答案必定會是一面倒的「反對」(我對這一點有著高度自信)。而這樣一個根本問題也不能只由政治人物決定,非得交付全國人民公投不可。

想要了解為何「反對」是最有可能的答案,需要對台灣在地有些基本認識,以及洞察報紙頭條與政府官方說法背後事態的能力。不管台灣的民進黨和國民黨再怎麼互不相容,在保衛台灣的民主政治和生活方式這一點上,雙方卻出人意表地有著一定程度的交集,這點少為人知。沒錯,國民黨內部確實有些派系支持兩岸統一,但畢竟是少數,而這種論調也正漸漸消失;其他大多數國民黨人的底線則是台灣(或中華民國),而在大多數時候,對中國看似後患無窮的讓步,其實不過是國民黨在選戰中取得優勢贏過對手的手段。許多泛綠陣營的台灣人對這一點仍有不同看法,但在我看來,國民黨已經「台灣化」,並且會持續下去這一點是無庸置疑的,特別是在2014年太陽花運動的危機之後,國民黨內部產生的分裂將有助於淘汰黨內更加保守(也更不負責任)的勢力。

國民黨立法委員在政論節目上也一再說出和民進黨對手們莫名相似的言論,最近在國民黨主席朱立倫訪問中國之後,他們呼籲大眾關注政府問責(governmental accountability)的必要,以及不遵守民主政治規範對他們競選連任所帶來的傷害。朱立倫對於「一個中國」的言論所引發的喧擾,應當被解讀成台灣政治領袖在中國境內不得不打的太極拳。(幾年前中日兩國對於尖閣列島/釣魚台群島的領土糾紛升高之際,我請教一位國民黨資深官員,為什麼沒有一個國民黨人參與當天台北市區一場要求和中國合作保衛釣魚台的小型示威。他的回答是「我們才不跟那些急統的瘋子一起丟人現眼。」)更加耐人尋味,也更能說明問題的,則是某些來自「支持統一」的親民黨「深藍」立委,與強烈促統的「白狼」張安樂,或是在朱立倫訪問中國時當面建議為了經濟發展,不要把台灣一般人民意見看在眼裡的台商董淑貞之流的爭吵對罵。國民黨甚至親民黨人士和中國共產黨對手們的思想斷裂是很巨大的,就算經歷了過去八年的「兩岸和睦」也不曾縮小,聽來很矛盾,但事實的確如此。不願和中國統一的台灣社會群體,遠遠不只有「主張獨立」的民進黨,就現況而言,無論台灣人的文化或語言認同為何,他們幾乎是一致反對統一的。

不管排除掉台灣人的聲音操作起來是如何方便,事實都只有一個:無論是藍是綠,台灣人都很認真地要捍衛自身與眾不同的政治實體身分,以及造就了這個實體的生活方式。這份根深蒂固的韌性,遠遠超越了台灣保衛自身安全的軍事實力。

戰略專家們或許覺得他們以某種「大交換」的型式找出了「台灣問題」的完美解答。可是最重要的主角,也就是受到最多衝擊的人們不願意跟著玩的話,這一切解決方案又有甚麼意義?更何況他們拒絕加入並非因為冥頑不靈或反對「和平」,而是他們本來就有權這麼做,交給他們的「選擇」本來就是腐爛的?台灣社會內部支持獨立(包括「維持現狀」這一概念)的共識是這樣強大,無論哪一種由外部強加卻又不考慮台灣人想法的「解決方案」,結果都只能帶來劇烈的動盪,適足以引發上述這些專家學者所期望避免的對立衝突。

中譯:William Tsai
Original article: http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/the-question-that-is-never-asked-what-do-the-taiwanese-want/

The Question that is Never Asked: What do the Taiwanese Want?

Experts often talk about grand bargains and strategies to resolve the Taiwan issue once and for all. But rarely, if ever, do they bother to ask the Taiwanese what they think 

With about eight months left before the presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan, in which the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is widely regarded as the favorite, political watchers are once again, after an eight-year interregnum, forecasting possible trouble in the Taiwan Strait. Fearing a return to old tensions, some analysts have been proposing creative ways to resolve the “Taiwan question” once and for all, and by so doing prevent the island-nation from dragging the U.S. into a catastrophic conflict with China. Call it appeasement or a “grand bargain,” the theory is that Taiwan is neither defensible nor worth defending, and that longstanding security guarantees should therefore be retracted and Taiwan left to fend for itself. 

In recent weeks, and ostensibly expecting a return to more contentious relations between Taipei and Beijing, academics such as Hugh White and Charles Glaser have articulated the view that helping Taiwan isn’t worth major economic disruptions or the risk of nuclear war with China, and that accommodation is the only solution. Meanwhile Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College, dedicates an entire chapter in his book Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry to a step-by-step program to gradually wean Taiwan off U.S. arms sales in return for Beijing abandoning the possibility of using force against the island, with a “peace agreement” and political union as the climax. In Goldstein’s somewhat rosy view, Taiwanese have nothing to worry about because China’s “allegedly heavy-handed approach to the former British colony has long been overhyped in the West,” and Taiwan’s democracy could continue to exist “within a confederation between the Mainland and Taiwan.” While admitting that 2016 could complicate matters a little, Goldstein is able to make his projection because of his view that since 2008, “peace is breaking out” across the Taiwan Strait, a view that fails to take several key factors into consideration, to which we shall return later. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo by the author)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

If the Unthinkable Occurred: America Should Stand Up to China over Taiwan

Nothing would be more dangerous than for Beijing to conclude that aggression would go unpunished and that the United States and a coterie of key allies do not have the will or the capacity to intervene 

In back-to-back articles published in recent weeks, Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University, posited that China has become too powerful, and too critical a player in the global economy, for the continuation of tacit U.S. security guarantees to Taiwan, the island-nation that Beijing regards as an inalienable part of China. In White’s bleak worldview, the risks of major conflict—perhaps even nuclear war—are too enormous, and consequently, Taiwan should simply be abandoned to its “inevitable” fate. Not only is this wrong, it’s a very dangerous proposition. 

I would first like to thank Professor White for his response to my article “Don’t Let China Swallow Taiwan,” which gives me an opportunity to expand upon and to refine my earlier observations on the subject. Although I have strong disagreements with his argument, his is a position that has enjoyed a modicum of traction in some circles, and as such, it is essential that it be properly countered. 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Rather Lackluster Performance by Xi During Meeting with Chu

The KMT chairman’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart on Monday spoke volumes about the gap that continues to exist between the two sides 

Given that it had been nearly six years since a chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had journeyed to Beijing to meet the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) performance on May 4 was rather odd. If only for the propagandistic value of the meeting, one would have expected Xi to do his best to be charming (admittedly no small challenge) when meeting Eric Chu (朱立倫). Instead, a dour-looking Xi gave the impression that he would rather have been somewhere else. 

The scene of the meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing was worth a thousand words and epitomized the gap that continues to exist between the two societies. On the KMT side of the table, the Chu delegation included men and women. On the other side, the Chinese delegation was entirely made up of middle-aged men. Even more telling was the body language. During his speech, KMT Chairman Chu spoke eloquently, without referring to his notes, and looked straight at Xi and other members of the Chinese group, smiling occasionally. Xi, meanwhile, sounded sometimes bored, sometimes condescending, making little eye contact and constantly referring to his written notes, stumbling on a few occasions and sounding very much as if this was the first time he’d seen them. Chu exuded confidence; Xi, disengagement. From that scene, one could have been forgiven for thinking that Chu, not Xi, was in charge. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Chu-Xi Meeting: Neither Historic Nor Groundbreaking

Forget the hype. The meeting was bereft of substance and in no way a new departure in cross-strait relations

Following weeks of anticipation, the chairman of Taiwan Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) met the secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing on May 4—and despite all the hype, there was very little of substance to write home about.

Part of the excitement about the meeting between KMT Chairman Eric Chu, who took over the party in January 2015, and CCP Secretary-General Xi Jinping stemmed from misconception and short-term memory. Unlike what has been reported, the meeting was neither “historic,” nor was it “only the second time since 1949 [that] the leaders of the KMT and Communist Party will meet each other in Beijing.” In fact, it was the fourth since 2005.

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nepal Puts Politics Ahead of Lives, Says No Thank You to Taiwan SAR

Taiwan is ready to send rescue teams to quake-hit Nepal, but Beijing-friendly Kathmandu says no thanks 

Given China’s significant presence in Nepal, the news today that Kathmandu has turned down Taiwan’s offer to help with search-and-rescue efforts following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck at the weekend, killing more than 3,200 people and displacing thousands more, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Along China’s periphery, politics tend to get in the way of people’s welfare. 

Hours after Saturday’s deadly temblor, several SAR teams in Taiwan readied to depart for Nepal to help look for survivors under collapsed buildings. This included a 20-member team with rescue dogs. Taipei, which routinely tops donors’ lists in post-disaster assistance to foreign countries, has also pledged US$300,000 in financial assistance so far, and the Taiwanese Red Cross has started a fundraising drive to collect US$1 million 

However, Kathmandu said “thanks, but no thanks,” citing lack of diplomatic ties, the “great distance” and the absence of direct flights as the reasons why it turned down Taipei’s offer to send rescue workers. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Taiwan’s All-Volunteer Force Pains: There’s a Way Out

Taiwan’s politics are proving ruinous for the country’s national defense. Here’s what needs to be done 

If there is one subject that should never get sucked into the morass of Taiwan’s electoral campaigns, it is national defense. Irrespective of ideology or political preferences, politicians should always seek to transcend party politics and work together to ensure that the island-nation’s armed forces are fully prepared to meet the security challenges that confront Taiwan. However, Taiwan being Taiwan, even national security is politicized, and now a row has emerged over the nation’s shift to an all-volunteer force (AVF), with one side accusing the other of trying to reinstate conscription. 

The sad thing is that as politicians try to score political points ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Taiwan’s AVF program continues to face many challenges. Despite improvements in salaries, service-extension stipends, and slick publicity drives, lower-than-expected enlistment has forced the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to proceeded with a streamlining of the basic force that some critics say may have gone too far. Facing sluggish recruitment in the initial phase of the AVF program, the military was forced to postpone the shift to AVF, first planned for 2015, to 2017, and to reduce the expected active force from the planned 215,000 soldiers to between 170,000 and 180,000, or about 0.8 percent of the population. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here (photo by the author).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Don't Let China Swallow Taiwan

Allowing China to conquer Taiwan would almost certainly fan the flames of Chinese expansionism rather than extinguish them 

With the prospects of a transition of power next year, the punditry is once again shifting into high gear with alarmist messages about the risk of renewed tensions in the Taiwan Strait. As always, it is the Taiwanese side—not only the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) but also the millions of Taiwanese who want to maintain their way of life—that is being blamed for the potential risks, not the bully on the other side who is aiming his canons at the island. 

What is even more extraordinary about this lopsided logic is that its adherents do recognize the extraordinary accomplishments that have been made by Taiwan over the decades. And yet they still find it within themselves to propose policies that are as defeatist as they are bereft of human decency—or logic, for that matter, as we shall see. 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alarm Over China’s S-400 Acquisition Is Premature

The S-400 is an impressive system, but China’s acquisition of the system shouldn’t spark alarm just yet. Physics is part of the reason why  

The confirmation last week that China has purchased between four and six battalions of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system has sparked alarmism in many circles, with experts stating that the new missile will allow China to strike aerial targets over major Indian cities, all over Taiwan, as well as within disputed areas in the East and South China Sea. But before we start calling the S-400 a “game changer,” a few comments are in order. 

Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-run agency in charge of export of defense articles, announced on April 13 that Moscow had agreed to sell China four to six S-400 battalions for the sum of approximately $3 billion. The confirmation ended years of speculation as to whether Russia would agree to sell the advanced air defense system to China, a “strategic partner” that on some occasions has bitten the hand that feeds it, advanced weaponry by reverse-engineering Russian products and producing copies—some intended for export—for a fraction of the price. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taiwanese Military Reform and the Challenge of PLA Political Warfare

Military transformation cannot ignore the human element 

Transforming Taiwan’s military to ensure that it can meet the many external challenges that lie ahead is an absolute necessity. However, platforms and reorganization alone — the issues that usually receive the greatest attention when terms like “reform” and “transformation” are involved — are insufficient. Without enough motivated men and women to fill the ranks, and without proper political and civilian support, all the “nuts and bolts” transformation in the world will amount to little. Consequently, as Taiwan’s military establishment ponders future capabilities and organizational requirements, just as importantly it must bolster the image of the armed forces and seek to counter the sustained propaganda/political warfare campaigns unleashed by Beijing to undermine morale in the troops, destroy the reputation of the military at home and abroad, and convince the Taiwanese population, as well as Taiwan’s allies, that resistance is futile. In other words, the people, not the Chinese military, might be Taiwan’s worst enemy. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here. (Photo by the author)

As Tsai Ing-wen Enters Taiwan’s Presidential Race, the China Challenge Looms Large

As Tsai Ing-wen gears up to run for Taiwan’s presidency, she will have to wrangle with a tough problem: China 

As expected, Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on April 15 confirmed that chairperson Tsai Ing-wen would be the party’s candidate in next year’s presidential election. And just as expected, no sooner had the eight-minute press conference at the party’s headquarters in Taipei concluded than Beijing was issuing a stern reminder that relations in the Taiwan Strait could quickly sour should Tsai flirt with “splittism.” Yes, whether we like it or not, the China issue will once again be a major factor in the elections. 

Tsai ran unopposed within her party and is widely seen as the strongest contender in the elections scheduled for January 16, 2016, for which the ruling—and somewhat disorganized—Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has yet to announce a candidate. President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT, who has staked his entire presidency on improving ties with China, will step down next year after serving his maximum two terms. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here (Photo by Jessie Chen)

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Rise of Civic Nationalism in Taiwan: A Conversation with J. Michael Cole

The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda and Shannon Tiezzi speak to J. Michael Cole about Taiwanese politics, society, and his new book, Black Island: Two Years of Activism in Taiwan

The 30-minute podcast, which primarily focuses on Taiwanese politics heading into the January 2016 elections, the rise of civic activism on the island, and the evolving relations between Beijing and Taipei, can be accessed here. The book is available on Amazon.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

中國對台灣的瞞天大謊

台灣想要的東西很多,但不包括戰爭

作為一個以中間偏左的自由派立場而自豪,堅決反對2003年美國出兵伊拉克,甚至一度和古巴領導人卡斯楚(Fidel Castro)一同出現在《反擊》(Counterpunch)雜誌同一頁上的加拿大人,我在這些年來是多麼頻繁地因為主張國際社會有切身利害、更有責任支援台灣抵抗中國侵略的自衛努力,而被說成「右翼分子」、「戰爭販子」或是西方情報機構的工具,實在是很耐人尋味的。這些指控被按步就班地運用,以詆毀在國際社會上支持台灣的人,足以說明中國的宣傳機器取得了多大的成功。

故事情節其實再簡單不過了:一個人口2300萬,在1980年代從威權體制和平轉型為民主體制的國家,正面臨著被一個人口14億,人權紀錄惡名昭彰,對外擴張傾向日益顯著的威權專制國家接管(甚至不惜動用武力)的可能性。但台灣和經常被拿來(錯誤)類比的以色列不同,它既沒有強佔別人的土地,更完全無意威脅自己的鄰國。事實上,台灣人的缺乏尚武精神還經常受到詬病。

大多數台灣人若不是支持法理獨立,就是主張維持現狀(事實獨立的婉轉說法)。只有極少數人支持台灣「回歸」從不曾隸屬其中的中華人民共和國,就連這些人也多半要在中國(有朝一日)民主化之後才會願意統一。大多數台灣人的祖先來自中國大陸,而中華文化和原住民、日本、歐美等諸多其他文化共同匯聚成了台灣島國五彩繽紛的文化,使得台灣成為獨具特色的美食與藝術天堂。

台灣是世界前20大經濟體之一,是全球供應鏈上的重要節點,在科技領域上也有巨大的潛力作出實質貢獻,但這份潛力由於北京長期施壓,把台灣從大多數國際組織中驅逐出去而遭受損害。

絕大多數台灣人並不「反中國」,實際上他們更支持和中國關係正常化,也樂見中國繁榮富強,但這絕不能和政治上與中華人民共和國統一混為一談,事實上,最近幾年的許多民意調查都呈現出恰好相反的趨勢。

台灣人最想要的,不過就是不受外力脅迫決定自己未來的權利,我們應當指出,這份權利是受到聯合國憲章明文規定,並被世界各國領袖一致宣告為「普世」權利的。美國前總統小布希(George W. Bush)在連任就職演說中道出了這份高貴的情操:「我們在世世代代中宣揚住民自治(self-government)的誡命,因為沒有誰生來就該做主人,也沒有誰生來就只能當奴隸。」

然而,不管是誰出來主張台灣應當獲得政治及軍事援助,以確保台灣人民不致被迫臣服,這人都會立刻被說成陰謀煽動第三次世界大戰,不然就是為一小撮國際情報機構及軍火商的利益服務。中國傳聲筒說出這種話來當然可想而知(職責所在),卻又不只他們而已,(通常從左翼立場出發的)許多西方論述也針對支持台灣的「好戰份子」作出類似的指控。這實在令人莫名其妙,畢竟我們期望的是這些論述支持捍衛民主,對抗專制的一方。

因為我主張台灣有權自衛而貼在我身上的標籤,可真是長長一串,其中包括:「中情局特務」、「西方情報員」(我坦白招供:我在加拿大安全情報局當過情報分析員)、「好戰分子」、「戰爭販子」、「新帝國主義者」,還有「軍火販子」。我還一天到晚被說成「仇中人士」,有一次甚至還花了漫長的幾分鐘,被一個從上海打電話來的人咆哮著要我說清楚為何這麼「痛恨」他的祖國。說實話,我對於中國本身一點都不反對,我認為中國是一個歷史悠久、地大物博的國家,但我堅決反對一個日益顯露其法西斯傾向的政權。這不是零和的問題:「愛」台灣並不意味著「恨」中國。那些指控我們仇恨中國的人,是為了實施「中國受害」(China as victim)戰略,抹黑我們主張台灣有權自衛的動機而這麼做的(在這一點上,中國和猶太復國主義者其實有些共通之處)。

我最近一篇主張台灣採取更有效遏制戰略的文章所引來的其中一篇氣急敗壞(卻又不期然地滑稽逗趣)的回應,是中國南京軍區前任副司令員王洪光在中共黨報《人民日報》上的評論:他把上面提到的那些罪名老調重彈,說我企圖引發第三次世界大戰。(他還不忘說我「軍事素質低劣」、「心智蒙昧」並且「智商太低」)。

既然道德天平是如此簡單明瞭,台灣的困境在國際社會中(至少在自由國家群體中)也理當產生「大衛對抗哥利亞」的思想訴求,我們因此也就不得不自問,為何台灣面臨着這樣的阻礙,多半擁護着自由、自決等這些崇高原則的支持台灣人士卻又一天到晚被說成「麻煩製造者」以及嗜血的右派。愛好和平,努力爭取自主的台灣是「惡」,以祖國統一之名追求領土擴張的專制獨裁國家卻是「善」,這樣一個是非顛倒的世界簡直荒謬到了極點。

台灣和巴勒斯坦人民的共通點多於和以色列人的共通點,甚至,就連這個類比都很不完整,因為台灣不像巴勒斯坦人那樣採取游擊戰或恐怖行動來保衛自己。然而,卻有這麼多理當更瞭解狀況的人公然鄙視台灣,好像爭取自由的台灣人才是台灣海峽緊張局勢的起因,而不是海峽對岸那些用導彈瞄準台灣、情蒐活動變本加厲,並且大張旗鼓實施對台兩棲作戰演習的正牌好戰份子。台灣面臨着生存危機,可是照北京當局及其世界各地聲援者的說法,對台軍售純粹是持續阻礙中國發展的遏制戰略之一環,其中絕無任何高貴的理念,但美國長久以來對台灣及台灣人的支援實際上卻未必是完全無關理念的。

許多人基於各式各樣的理由,完全採納中國對於台灣的瞞天大謊。有些人認為台灣的民主對他們造成阻礙;也有些人能因著支持北京的路線而獲利,若不如此表態就會讓投資受到損害;還有些人若是對這個身處強大歷史潮流中的脆弱民主表示支持,就無法到中國的大學教書,也無法會見中國官員。

不管他們的論調有哪些可取之處,我只請求他們至少給予我們這些盡心盡力保衛台灣,好讓台灣人民自行決定前途的人應有的尊重。就算要聲討我們的罪狀,也請實事求是。為了你們的證券投資而指責我們吧,就算說我們幼稚無知、不切實際都好。但是請不要說我們是為了挑起戰爭,摧毀這片我們深愛並且在此落地生根的土地而來的。把台灣說成兩岸關係的反派角色,是運作良好的中國宣傳機器充分利用了他人的自我利益羅織而成的。從來都只有一方公開宣稱「我全副武裝在思想戰線上等你一決勝負」,而那一方明明不是台灣。

中譯:William Tsai

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Great Chinese Lie About Taiwan

Condone Chinese militarism and you are being a realist. Support the defense of democratic Taiwan against authoritarian expansionism, and you are dubbed a militarist, a warmonger 

As a left-of-center and proud liberal Canadian who vehemently opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and once shared a page with Fidel Castro in CounterPunch magazine, it is fascinating how often I have been accused over the years of being a “right-winger,” a “warmonger,” or an instrument of Western intelligence for arguing that the international community has an interest in and the responsibility to help Taiwan defend itself against Chinese aggression. The systematic use of such allegations, which have been used to discredit supporters of Taiwan, demonstrates the extent of the Chinese propaganda apparatus’ success. 

The plot is actually rather simple: A nation of 23 million people that bloodlessly transitioned from authoritarian rule to democracy in the 1980s faces the prospect of being taken over — perhaps by military force — by an authoritarian country of 1.4 billion people with an atrocious human rights record and increasingly expansionist tendencies. Unlike Israel, with which it is sometimes (wrongly) compared, Taiwan does not occupy another people’s land, nor does it have any intention to threaten its neighbors. In fact, its people are often accused of lacking martial spirit. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here (photo by the author)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Taiwan’s ‘Apache-gate’ and a call for restraint

Security violations are a serious matter. But Taiwanese media and the opposition should not blow things out of proportion 

The optics could hardly have been worse: Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng, a pilot manning the Taiwanese Army’s AH-64E “Guardian” helicopter—one of the most advanced helicopters of its kind in the world—is caught after surreptitiously taking a group of civilians, including a few foreign nationals, on a tour of the base, during which an entertainer had her photo taken while sitting in the cockpit. 

As the details of the March 29 visit to the Army base in Longtan, Taoyuan, became public, it was soon evident that the Taiwanese military had yet another controversy on its hands. Besides failing to register the visit with security officials at the base, it emerged that Lao, a pilot with Army’s 601st Aviation Brigade, had also taken the Apache helmet—a controlled item—off base for a Halloween costume party at his home in 2014. 

My article, published today on the China Policy Institute blog, University of Nottingham, continues here. (Photo by the author)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

US Marine F-18s Land at Taiwan Air Base, Beijing Protests

Exactly 14 years after the EP-3 incident near Hainan, and as the PLAAF conducts exercises in the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines, two U.S. F-18s make a precautionary landing in Taiwan

Two U.S. Marine F/A-18C Hornet aircraft did a precautionary landing at an air force base in southern Taiwan on April 1 after one of the aircraft reportedly flashed a persistent engine oil pressure light warning. Unusual in itself, the incident, which has been widely covered in Taiwanese media, could be more significant than initially thought.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on April 2 that the two aircraft were from the U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323). The squadron is under the Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11). Mark Zimmer, the spokesman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the United States’ de facto embassy in the absence of official diplomatic ties, said the two aircraft took off from an airbase in Japan on Wednesday. Major Paul L. Greenberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps,added that the F-18s were on a routine mission in support of a training exercise. According to the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Public Affairs Office, the pair of F-18s was en route to Singapore to participate in the COMMANDO SLING air-to-air joint exercises with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo: Liberty Times)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Politics Behind Taiwan’s AIIB Bid

Expect the controversy over Taiwan’s application to join the Beijing-led financial body to spill into the 2016 elections 

The sudden announcement on the evening of March 30 that Taiwan had applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — Beijing’s answer to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank — caused some consternation after it was discovered that Taiwanese authorities agreed to join despite Beijing’s precondition that it do so under the “one China” principle. Lack of transparency, the absence of consultations or review within the legislature, as well as uncertainty over which channels were used to submit the application have raised serious questions about what happened. Alarming though this may all be, expect more trouble ahead as the AIIB question will likely become an item of contention in the lead-up to the 2016 elections and a challenge for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

Taiwan Applies to Join AIIB Under ‘One China,’ Sparking Protests

Echoes of the Sunflowers? Taiwan applies to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, provoking protests in Taipei 

Dozens of young protesters clashed with police and security guards outside the Presidential Office in Taipei on the evening of March 31 after the government unilaterally announced that Taiwan would join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution initiated by China. 

After Taipei expressed its interest in joining the AIIB, Beijing said it would welcome Taiwan as long as it joined under the “one China” principle. Beijing’s terms also stipulated that Taiwan must apply through the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), the agency under the State Council that handles relations with Taiwan. Beijing does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty and regards Taiwan as a province, to be “re-united” by force if necessary. At this writing, the name under which Taiwan applied to join the AIIB remains unknown. 

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency in charge of relations with China, faxed the Letter of Intent to the TAO at 7 pm on March 31. The TAO will then transmit Taiwan’s application to the Interim Secretariat of the AIIB. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo: Black Island Youth Front)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Taiwan's Master Plan to Defeat China in a War

The surest way Taiwan can defeat China in a major war is to make sure that it never happens 

A consensus seems to have developed among a large number of defense analysts in recent years arguing that despite the balance of power having shifted in China’s favor, Beijing has no intention to use its military to invade Taiwan and thus resolve the Taiwan “question” once and for all. Doing so would be too costly, some argue, while others contend that Beijing can accomplish unification by creating enough economic dependence and incentives to convince Taiwanese over time of the “inevitability” of a “reunited” China. 

Although these factors certainly militate against the desire to go to war over the island-nation, we cannot altogether discount the probability that the Chinese military would be called into action, especially if the rationale for launching an attack were framed in terms of a defensive war—China being “forced” to take action because of changing and “untenable” circumstances in its environment. 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Black Island: Two Years of Activism in Taiwan is Out!

Long before the student-led Sunflower Movement stormed the legislature in Taipei on March 18, 2014, sparking the most serious political crisis in Taiwan’s modern history, journalist J. Michael Cole was chronicling the rise of civic activism in this young democracy and warning us of the coming troubles. In this long-awaited collection of essays, the author takes us to the heart of this extraordinary recrudescence of activism and shows that there was nothing ‘spontaneous’ about the Sunflower Movement. With on-site observations and unique access to the protagonists, Black Island brings you to the frontlines of civil unrest — the police shields, pro-Beijing gangsters, victims of injustice, callous government officials and the idealists who are fighting back — and explains why the rise of civil society will change the face of politics in Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait for years to come. 

The book comes in three sections — The Long Road to 318; Article 972 and the Rise of Christian Evangelicals-Yes, in Taiwan; and Game Changer: The Sunflowers Take Action — and collects most of my writing on activism published since the end of 2012 through March 2015, all of it updated and re-edited. It also includes a long introduction that puts everything in context.

Black Island is now available on Amazon.com. Stay tuned for updates on book events in Taiwan, and join the Facebook page for updates and extra material!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Unstoppable: China's Secret Plan to Subvert Taiwan

A convoluted network of Chinese companies and organizations is involved in Beijing's "onion layer" strategy against Taiwan and the world 

Mao Zedong reportedly once said that warfare is 70 percent political. Arguably, no conflict in recent times has adhered to this concept more faithfully than China’s ongoing campaign to “reunite” Taiwan with the “Mainland.” While analysts have tended to focus on the threat which an increasingly powerful People’s Liberation Army (PLA) poses to the democratic island-nation, the political warfare component of Beijing’s “reunification” strategy has received much less attention, perhaps because cross-strait symposia on tea and culture are far less “newsworthy” than the latest missile boat or combat aircraft. 

Given Beijing’s preference for “nonkinetic” solutions to the impasse (war would be costly and unpredictable), it makes perfect sense that its leadership would explore alternative means by which to win the war in the Taiwan Strait. Political warfare (or the “Three Warfares,” 三战), targeting both Taiwan and its supporters in the international community, is a favored instrument. There has been a growing number of interactions between Taiwan and China since 2008. And what with rapidly expanding cross-strait travel, academic exchanges and investment, the opportunities for China to engage in political warfare have increased exponentially. 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Big Bad Blue Lying Machine is Back

An incident involving an academic’s invented quotes from a closed-door meeting between the DPP chairperson and a US official sets a new standard for crassness 

How time flies! Less than a year from now, Taiwanese will have elected a new person to lead the country, concluding eight long years of the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) presidency. The idea hasn’t completely sunk in yet, but election season — and the complete, all-consuming madness that comes with it — is right around the corner. In fact, the madness part of the electoral cycle has already begun. 

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) may still be struggling to find a viable candidate for the January 16 election, but this hasn’t prevented the big machine behind it from shifting into high gear to undermine its opponent, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). And given what’s at stake and the high likelihood that Tsai could win this time around, the nastiness of the 2012 elections could feel like a walk in the park compared with what lies ahead. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Is Taiwan out of Vogue in Washington DC?

We don’t hear much about Taiwan in Washington nowadays. But not for the reasons that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman gives us 

After delivering remarks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on February 27, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman was asked a rather simple question by one of the journalists present: Why don’t we hear much about Taiwan in Washington, D.C. nowadays?  

John Zang, a journalist with CTiTV in Taiwan, had good reasons to ask. After all, in Sherman’s entire presentation, which focused on the situation in Northeast Asia, Taiwan was only mentioned once. And in that one passing reference, her formulation — “our friendship with the people of Taiwan” — deftly skirted the possibility of Taiwan existing as a nation or state, or the fact that U.S. relations with the “people of Taiwan” are rather more substantial than mere friendship. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Independent Candidates: How Independent Can They Afford to Be?

Unless it wants to be the eternal outsider, the ‘third force’ in Taiwanese politics must agree to form strategic coalitions within the system 

The decision by a number of social activists and academics in recent months to step over the line and dirty their hands in the muck of electoral politics is a healthy development in Taiwan’s contemporary history. In the past few weeks, two new parties — the New Power Party (NPP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) — have come into being, promising to shake up a political environment that without doubt has ossified over the years. By bringing fresh faces and ideas to the political arena, new independent parties bring hopes of rejuvenation to the nation. But how independent can this third force really be? 

The decision to form a new party already tells us a few things about the state of mind of its creators and points to a disagreement (usually along ideological lines) with existing parties and the system of which they are part. The goal is therefore to propose something new, to promote a specific issue (e.g., environmentalism), or to change the system from within. 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here (photo by the author).