Wednesday, June 20, 2018

JAL, ANA Show How to Respond to Chinese Pressure

Yes, the two Japanese carriers have given in to Chinese pressure. But they may have found a formula that meets Beijing’s demands without imposing China’s ‘Orwellian nonsense’ on the rest of us 

Since April, dozens of airlines providing flights to China have been pressured by Chinese authorities to change how they refer to Taiwan on their web sites so as to avoid any reference that my suggest statehood for the island-nation. With very few exceptions, airlines have yielded to those demands and now refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China,” “Taipei, CN,” or other such designations. 

In many cases, governments have been reluctant to involve themselves in the matter, arguing that it is not their place to interfere in the decisions of private entities. Some governments have even denied being approached by airlines that sought assistance and guidance as they struggled to deal with the matter. (I’ve argued elsewhere that governments must regard this issue as a matter of foreign interference in our countries.) 

Continues here.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Nice Democracy You’ve Got There. Be a Shame If Something Happened to It

China's Communist Party is using thuggish proxies to disrupt Taiwan and Hong Kong 

Secret societies, criminal organizations, and triads have existed for centuries in China, but most were chased out after the victory of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1949 civil war. Triads continued to flourish in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan — where many fled alongside Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated Nationalists. But while the CCP drove them out of the mainland, the party has found them a very useful tool to disrupt and frustrate opponents in societies such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, where resistance to the party runs high. 

The CCP only had to turn to the Nationalists to see the benefits of secret societies. In the early days of the civil war, Chiang often relied on the Green Gang, a secret society based in Shanghai, to gather information on Communists and assault them physically when necessary. Chiang’s Nationalists had also developed a relationship with the 14K, a triad that, like the Green Gang, harassed Communists and relocated to Hong Kong after the war. 

Continues here.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Worry Not: The New AIT Compound in Taipei Will Not Derail US-China Relations

Much speculation has surrounded this month’s opening of the new de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan and the effects it could have on Sino-American relations and efforts to resolve the North Korea issue. There is no reason why the ceremony should affect any of this 

After years of delays, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S.’ new de facto embassy in Taiwan, will hold a ceremony on June 12 to dedicate its new complex in Neihu. Much speculation — and misunderstanding — has surrounded the event. This includes fears, in some circles, that the ceremony could “anger” Beijing or derail plans for a U.S.-North Korea summit the same week. 

At the heart of the issue are questions about which senior official, if any, the Donald Trump administration will send to the event, especially after the president’s signing, earlier this year, of the Taiwan Travel Act, a piece of legislation which encourages exchanges by senior U.S. and Taiwanese officials. 

Continues here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

China’s Bullying of Taiwan: External Distraction for an Underperforming CCP?

Beijing’s harassment of Taiwan is not only failing, it serves as a distraction for a regime in Beijing that has done very little to help the nearly quarter of a billion Chinese who have not touched the benefits of economic growth, or to address the many challenges that threaten the future stability of the country 

China’s efforts to isolate and pressure Taiwan have intensified as President Tsai Ing-wen marked the second anniversary of her inauguration in May 20. Airlines, global firms and now some foreign media with a presence in China have received “orders” from Chinese authorities on how to refer to Taiwan on their sites and in their publications, and many have acceded to hose demands. Meanwhile, Beijing again this year succeeded in holding global health hostage by preventing Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. And exercises by the Chinese military have continued apace, with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft getting dangerously close to Taiwanese airspace. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ottawa Can’t Shirk Responsibility in China-Taiwan Air Canada Controversy

The Trudeau government’s cowardly response to Air Canada’s decision to list Taiwan as part of China could damage Canada’s reputation abroad 

The decision by Air Canada earlier this month to give in to Chinese pressure on international airlines and to refer to Taiwan as “Taipei, CN” on its website has caused a stir in political circles and drawn renewed attention to the need for Ottawa to stand up for the values that define Canadians. The Canadian government simply cannot afford to avoid the issue. Ultimately, this intrusion in our domestic affairs affects the reputation of Canada abroad as a [...] 

Continues here (paywalled).

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

時間不多了!台灣必須振作起來

綜觀北京當局近來針對台灣所有的文攻武嚇,雖有人民解放軍提升在鄰近區域的演習頻率,外加限縮台灣國際空間的種種企圖,中國仍然無法說服外界:已經把「統一台灣」列為第一優先要務。不過,情況是會改變的,而等到那天真的到來,台灣最好已經做足面對這項艱難挑戰的準備。但遺憾的是,目前實在看不出來,台灣有在認真地準備

其實原本的情勢會更加嚴峻。儘管北京方面得以展現軍力耀武揚威,並且取消了國家主席習近平的任期限制,台灣依然是中國共產黨必須纏鬥的難題。但是中國的國際處境艱難,包括與美國的貿易大戰迫在眉睫,以及部分民主國家因中國在其自家後院的活動頻繁,備感壓力而相繼反彈。 

此外,中國的經濟亦充斥著矛盾,從現況看來無從永續,在在顯示麻煩重重。這些困境雖不至於造成中國崩潰或中國共產黨垮台,卻足以讓習近平產生掌權的不確定感,而他對於有可能推翻他的人,也逐漸多疑起來(特別是現在的中國憲法,已無從要求國家主席下台)。中國對社會的每個部門,幾乎都加強了管控,中國人與外國同行之間的互動,也受到更多限制。這顯示出執政當局沒有安全感,民眾畏懼它而非愛戴。因此,國家穩定與政權確保,才是(目前)中國共產黨的第一優先考量,在可見的未來也依然如此。

Continues here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

As Airlines Give In to Chinese Pressure, Taiwan Needs a Strategy to Hit Back

Citizens or Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration could initiate legal action in Taiwan or in other jurisdictions against airlines that list Taiwan as part of China, as doing so violates consumer rights and breaks Taiwan’s domestic laws 

The recent decision by a number of international airlines to give in to pressure from Beijing and to remove all references suggesting Taiwan’s statehood from their web sites has sparked outrage in Taiwan and abroad. Earlier this week, Air Canada became the latest airline to do so, and began advertising flights to Taiwan under the designation “Taipei, CN.” 

At least 12 airlines since January have complied with a request by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to abide by Chines law, chief among them laws which stipulate that Taiwan, like Macau and Hong Kong, is territory which belongs to China. 

Continues here
Chinese-language version in CNA here.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Air Canada’s Kowtowing to China Sends a Dangerous Signal

I speak for many Canadians today in feeling ashamed for the decision by Air Canada, a company we can be proud of, to give in to Beijing’s coercion. Surely we can do better than this 

In the months since China began to bring pressure on international airlines to remove all references from their websites, apps and booking services to Taiwan as anything other than part of China, I, along with many other Canadians living in Asia, had taken great pride in the fact that Air Canada had refused to be cowed by the authoritarian giant. 

Sadly, that is no more. Joining a growing list of airlines including Qantas, Delta, British Airways and Lufthansa, Air Canada now uses a designation – “Taipei, CN” – that does not reflect reality, but can only please the leadership in Beijing, which refuses to acknowledge the existence of Taiwan as a sovereign entity. 

Continues here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Does China Have a ‘Blacklist’ of Taiwan ‘Separatists’?

Even if the blacklist doesn’t currently exist, China’s habit of extraterritorial abductions makes it all too plausible 

During a regular press conference on Wednesday, An Fengshan, a spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), was asked by a reporter whether there indeed existed, as reported in Chinese media a few days ago, a “blacklist” of Taiwanese “separatists” who could be targeted for punitive action by China. 

Responding to what undoubtedly was, as per tradition at such functions, another leading question meant to increase the pitch of China’s psychological warfare against Taiwan, An responded with the usual vague platitudes — neither confirming nor denying, but just enough to create the impression that such a plot could exist. (See, for another example of this, An’s response to a question about an upcoming military drill last month.) 

Continues here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

China’s Bullying of International Firms Reaches New Low With Gap T-Shirt Incident

In recent months China has used its Cyber Security Law and advertising regulations to pressure various international firms into removing references to Taiwan as a country from their web sites and APPs. Now it’s taken the blackmail one step further: into our own backyard 

It’s been a dispiriting past few months, what with a number of global brands kowtowing to the authoritarian regime in Beijing and giving in to its “Orwellian nonsense” on its territorial expansionism. 

Citing its domestic laws Cyber Security Law and advertising regulations, China has pressured dozens of international airlines, hotel chains and others into removing all references to Taiwan on their web sites and APPs that may suggest that the island-nation isn’t part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. 

Continues here.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Do American Companies Need to Take a Stance on Taiwan?

China’s airline regulator recently sent a letter to 36 international air carriers requiring them to remove from their websites references implying that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are not part of China. In a surprisingly direct May 5 statement, the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump “will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.” The statement called Beijing’s move “Orwellian nonsense,” adding that it was “part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.” The letter comes just months after Beijing punished and chastised companies like Marriott, Zara, and Delta for not showing enough deference to Beijing’s views of territorial integrity. How should American companies respond to these types of requests from the Chinese government? And does the White House’s response help American interests in China? 

The international community—firms, states, and multilateral institutions—only has itself to blame for this latest round of coercion, because we’ve allowed Beijing’s browbeating over the years to cow us into submission. Since that strategy has gotten it what it wants, it’s only normal that the Chinese Communist Party would continue to do so. 

China’s escalation has sparked a long-overdue response from the White House. While there is some irony in the Trump administration’s reference to “Orwellian nonsense,” as itself could arguably be accused of having engaged in similar practices, the push-back is nevertheless reflective of the views of a much larger segment of American society, and of growing impatience with a revisionist state that wants to dictate how we run our own affairs. Interestingly, no sooner had the White House released its statement than Julie Bishop, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, was issuing a similar warning to Beijing over its political pressure on Qantas. 

My contribution to this ChinaFile Conversation, continues here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

China Acting on ‘Lebanization’ Threat Against Taiwan

Beijing has given up on winning the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese. Instead, using violence-prone proxies and a fake civil society, the CCP wants to destabilize Taiwanese society and undermine support for the country’s democratic institutions 

After years of trying in vain to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese as part of its mergineffort to engineer the unification of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has recognized the error of its ways and has abandoned that strategy. Instead, it is now intensifying efforts to corrode and undermine Taiwan’s democratic institutions, create social instability, further isolate Taiwan internationally, and hollow-out Taiwan’s economy by attracting its talent. 

The key reason behind that shift is the abject failure of its attempt, during eight years of rapprochement under the Ma Ying-jeou presidency (2008-2016), to shape Taiwanese self-identification and support for unification through various economic incentives and various acts self-described as “goodwill.” When, for reasons having to do with Taiwan’s “democratic firewall,” that approach did not yield the expected dividends (and in fact had the counterproductive effect of strengthening Taiwanese identification), and when this was followed by the return to power of the Taiwan-centric Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which secured control of both the executive ands legislative branches of government in the January 2016 elections, Beijing found itself without a coherent strategy. Or rather, one important aspect of the CCP’s dialectic approach to Taiwan — the “win hearts and mind” strategy — was at long last buried. 

Continues here.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Does China’s Pressure on Airlines to Write Off Taiwan Break WTO Rules?

At this stage in the game, Taiwan can no longer just count on the kindness and principles of other players in the international community to protect its interest. It, along with its friends, needs to go on the offensive by pushing back where it might hurt Beijing the most. The WTO might be a good place to start 

In recent months Chinese authorities have ramped up their pressure on international airlines to remove all references from their web sites, online booking services and APPs to Taiwan suggesting it is a country. 

In January this year, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) ordered all foreign airlines operating flights to China to conduct a full review of their client information content such as their official websites or APPs to ensure they do not breach Chinese laws. The CAAC also reportedly summoned the representatives of 25 foreign airlines operating in China and demanded their companies remove all references to Taiwan as a country, as well as its national flag, from their web sites. On April 25, the CAAC renewed its pressure with a letter to 36 foreign airlines, including a number of American carriers. 

Continues here.

Friday, May 04, 2018

台多斷交的啟示:此時此刻台灣更需專注於重要盟邦

失去盟邦所造成的心理衝擊程度,可以說很有限,因為台灣民眾看待情勢的態度很務實

事實上,其他可能被中國拉攏的台灣邦交國,都是不具全球影響力的微小經濟體。 中華民國(台灣)與多明尼加共和國的正式邦交,在5月1日終止,結束雙方長達77年的官方關係。消息傳來之時,多明尼加共和國的官員,正在北京與中華人民共和國(PRC)建交。由於這項最新發展,台灣正式邦交國的數目減為19國。 

多明尼加總統梅迪納政府同時表示,該國承認「一個中國」原則,並接受北京當局所稱「台灣是中華人民共和國不可分割的一部分」的立場。 

Continues here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

China, Taiwan, and the Art of Stealing Allies

The effect of Beijing stealing Taiwan’s official diplomatic partners is limited and symbolic at best

The Taiwanese government on the morning of May 1 announced that it was severing official diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic after it confirmed reports Dominican officials were in Beijing to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 

The decision by the Dominican Republic comes after seventy-seven years of official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC). This latest development leaves the ROC, the official designation for Taiwan, with nineteen official diplomatic allies—most of them small states in Africa and Central America, the Pacific. 

Continues here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Q&A on Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific Concept

How does Taiwan fit into the free and open Indo-Pacific? 

Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe are not the only leaders talking about a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has also been using the phrase, signaling her government’s interest in the nascent concept. To understand Taiwan’s potential role in (and reservations about) FOIP, The Diplomat spoke with J. Michael Cole, editor in chief of Taiwan Sentinel as well as a Taipei-based Senior Fellow with the China Policy Institute/Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham, UK and associate researcher with the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC). 

Since late last year, Tsai Ing-wen has taken to using the phrase “free and open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) (most recently in April remarks before a delegation from the American Enterprise Institute). Should we take this to mean that Taiwan is explicitly aligning its regional strategy with the Trump administration’s? 

Since the beginning of her administration, President Tsai has been consistent in her government’s support for global standards such as UNCLOS. She, like other leaders, has also adopted the “Indo-Pacific” designation, first used by the Australian government around 2013, that describes a concept rather than an actual, fixed region. The notion of FOIP therefore isn’t anything particularly new, or even a direct product of President Trump’s regional strategy. It’s a longstanding concept, and as a country that seeks to abide by international norms and which seeks to play a constructive role as a responsible stakeholder, it is only natural that Taiwan would express support for FOIP. 

Continues here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Unprecedented Violence, Possible China Link As Anti-Pension Reform Protesters Storm Taiwan’s Legislature

Physical assaults on members of the press and law-enforcement officials, and the presence of a protest leader at an event in Beijing in 2016, have given a very bad reputation to a movement that opposes the Tsai administration’s efforts to reform an unsustainable pension program 

Protests against pension reform took a particularly violent turn on Wednesday as groups physically assaulted journalists and law enforcement officials around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. An estimated 2,000 people took part in the protest, organized by the 800 Heroes, a veterans group that has spearheaded efforts to oppose long-needed reforms to the pension program for civil servants, members of the armed forces and law enforcement. 

Continues here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Conservative’s Bid for Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage, Sex Education Highlights Democratic Blindspot in Taiwan

Amending the Referendum Act may have been a mistake in a highly politicized environment like Taiwan, where polarization is severe and civil society feels super-empowered. Fringe and intolerant groups now have a tool to hijack policymaking in a way that is detrimental to this nation’s democracy  

Taiwan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on April 17 passed a review of two referendums proposed by Christian-led conservative groups seeking to constrain marriage equality and prevent same-sex education in elementary and junior high schools nationwide. 

This is the latest bid by the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, a conservative group that has spearheaded a campaign against marriage equality in Taiwan. At its core, the alliance opposes revising the Civil Code to permit same-sex marriage, but says it supports a special law to protect the rights of same-sex couples seeking to form a union. For their part, LGBTQ groups and their supporters argue that a separate law for same-sex unions would discriminate against gay individuals. 

Continues here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

For Taiwanese, Democracy is the Only Game in Town — And They Would Fight to Defend it

A new survey shows that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese would take action to defend their democratic way of life if China attacked their country, even as a majority of them are pessimistic about the state of their democracy. We look at the numbers, and respond to critics from the blue camp  

A recent survey by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), a government-sponsored NGO, revealed that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese would be willing to fight to defend their nation’s democratic way of life if China attempted to annex it by force. In the survey, conducted on behalf of TFD by National Chengchi University’s Elections Study Center, 67.7 percent of respondents said they were willing to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. Among people aged 20 to 39, that number rose to 70.3 percent. Willingness to fight dropped to 55 percent if military action resulted from a declaration of de jure independence by Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

China’s Live-Fire Drill in the Taiwan Strait: A Case Study in Psychological Warfare

Despite claims by Chinese hawks that the live-fire military exercise is aimed at Taiwan and that the aircraft carrier ‘Liaoning’ could be involved, there is every indication that the drills are little more than a routine artillery exercise 

The Chinese military will hold live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait today (Wednesday) as President Tsai Ing-wen is on her first state visit to Africa. The announced maneuvers have sparked a frenzy of reporting — and hyperbole — in international media, which as always are on the lookout for high drama. 

Chinese authorities have revealed very little about the nature of the exercise since the announcement. A statement by the Fujian maritime safety administration only indicated that the maneuvers are to commence at 8am and end at midnight. The drills will take place in waters off Quanzhou, Fujian Province, across from Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan Travel Act: Use it Wisely

Recently signed into law by President Trump, the Taiwan Travel Act opens the door for high-level exchanges between Taiwanese and American officials. Substance, not symbolism, should be the key factor deciding who meets whom, where and when 

Since U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month signed the Taiwan Travel Act, a piece of legislation that encourages high-level exchanges between American and Taiwanese officials, reactions in some pro-Taiwan circles have been marked by elation, even leading some to suggest that President Trump himself should break with precedent and visit the island-nation for the opening of the U.S.’ brand new de facto embassy later this year. 

The reception to the Act, a bill 12 years in the making which received bipartisan support in U.S. Congress, is understandable, given that Washington’s longstanding — albeit unwritten — policy of barring senior officials from Taiwan, a democratic ally and key economic partner in Asia, from engaging with their American counterparts was both illogical and undignified. Nothing in the U.S.’ “one China” policy or in the Communiqués prevented such high-level exchanges; the tacit rule was instead an olive branch to Beijing, which over the years succeeded in pressuring U.S. government into avoiding official contact with senior government officials from Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Taiwanese Novelist Wu Ming-yi To Lodge Protest With Man Booker Prize Over ‘Taiwan, China’ Designation

Man Group, the hedge fund manager which sponsors the literary prize, launched a quantitative hedge fund in China last year catering to wealthy Chinese investors 

Well-known Taiwanese author Wu Ming-yi, whose novel The Stolen Bicycle was long-listed for the prestigious 2018 Man Booker International Prize, revealed on his Facebook page this morning that the organizers of the literary prize had changed his country of origin from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China,” a move that he said did not reflect his personal position. 

Wu is one of 13 authors nominated for the prize, the leading literary award in the English-speaking world. According to the official web site, the Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005, biannually rewarding an author for a body of work originally written in any language as long as it was widely available in English. The Stolen Bicycle was first published in Chinese in 2015 and was translated into English by the Taipei-based Darryl Sterk. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Xi Issues Stern Warning to Taiwan, Vows to Defend ‘Every Inch’ of Chinese Territory

An emboldened President Xi had some strong words for Taiwan after President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law last week 

Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday warned that Taiwan would be “punished by history” if it attempted to formally separate from China. Speaking at the concluding day of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Xi told the three-thousand-odd delegates that “all acts and tricks to split the motherland [China] are doomed to failure and will be condemned by the people and punished by history.” 

“The Chinese people share a common belief that it is never allowed and it is absolutely impossible to separate any inch of our great country’s territory from China,” he said, vowing to protect “every inch” of Chinese territory. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The CCP is Our Adversary, Not the Chinese People

As the CCP increasingly tries to narrow the space between party and state, and as President Xi erases the line between himself and the party, it will be more important than ever for critics to draw a distinction between the Party and the Chinese people 

Academics and journalists in the past year have begun to uncover activities by China that seek to undermine democratic institutions worldwide. As various aspects of Beijing’s United Front activities abroad are made public, and as governments begin to take the threat more seriously, the Chinese government’s response — and that of many Chinese — has been to depict those investigative efforts as racist, xenophobic and ultimately “anti China.” 

The accusations of racism and xenophobia, of a supposed anti-China sentiment, however, are for the most part unfounded. Through studious accounts of the agencies and organizations involved, the authors of the reports, documentaries and articles that have drawn attention to China’s intense influence operations have drawn a clear distinction between the agents of influence and ordinary Chinese, both in China and as part of the Chinese diaspora. In several cases, the authors are married to a Chinese partner and developed a deep affinity for the Chinese people through years of academic research or journalism in the country. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Great Chinese Lure: A Matter of National Security for Taiwan

A far greater threat to Taiwan than the PLA or pro-unification forces is the potential hollowing-out of Taiwan’s brain trust as China’s economy becomes increasingly attractive to skilled Taiwanese. Taipei has been far too complacent in tackling this challenge and must reverse course before it’s too late 

The unveiling by the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in late February of 31 measures to lure Taiwanese to work in China has renewed fears in Taiwan of a potentially devastating “brain drain” as young, educated and driven Taiwanese look across the Taiwan Strait for career opportunities. 

Beijing’s new strategy, which involves 12 incentives related to business and 19 to social and employment issues, is the latest in a long list of efforts over the years to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese while increasing the economic interdependence between the two sides. Like similar efforts before it, the strategy relies on a deterministic view of the world, whereby material benefits are seen as a means to shape non tangibles such as political and ideological beliefs, as well as self-identification. The ultimate aim, which Beijing has made no secret of, is to break support for Taiwanese independence or the “status quo” and to engineer desire for unification under “one China.”  

Continues here.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Who’s to Blame for the ‘1992 Consensus’ Impasse?

Beijing’s intransigence, and not Taipei’s refusal to fall into a trap, is the source of instability in bilateral relations 

It has become a common refrain since sometime in 2016 that relations between Taiwan and China have deteriorated due to the Tsai Ing-wen administration’s refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus.” However, that formulation not only stems from a cognitive bias that is unfair to Taiwan, it also suffers from amnesia and ignores Beijing’s stated long-term aims. 

According to this unquestioned rule, President Tsai’s refusal to abide by or recognize the “1992 consensus” is the reason why tensions have risen in the Taiwan Strait since her election in January 2016, why Beijing has “license” to punish Taiwan, and why the two sides — at least reports claim — no longer use official high-level channels to communicate with each other. Leaving alone the fact that the “consensus” was, by his own admission, invented by the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Su Chi in 2000, this formulation also imposes a baseline, a natural state from which departure bad things have necessarily happened in the Taiwan Strait. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

228: Trauma, Memory and the Birth of a Nation

The 228 Massacre is sacred ground — a graveyard out of whose soil a nation emerged. And for many, it was an original sin for the Nationalists. How much should be remembered? Should anything be forgotten? 

Trauma is the furnace of nations, an incident or series of incidents spanning months, years and sometimes decades that creates a “before” and “after,” and which transforms primary matter into, as Thomas Aquinas would phrase it, a “substantial being.” For Taiwan, the series of nationwide massacres that was unleashed on Feb. 28, 1947, followed by four decades of authoritarian rule known as the “White Terror,” marks the period in the nation’s history when its otherness became not only fact, but a necessity, a matter of survival. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Xi Jinping’s Power Grab Creates Systemic Instability

Lifting the term limits for the Chinese president could increase the likelihood of a coup d’etat in China 

The China-watching punditry has been aflutter since the not entirely unexpected announcement on Sunday that China was dropping the term limits for president, a move that would conceivably open the door for President Xi Jinping — arguably the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong — to stay in office indefinitely. 

This development, which has already prompted parallels with Russia’s persistent autocrat Vladimir Putin, has led some to argue that that Emperor Xi, as some now dub him, would use the extra time accorded him by the constitutional change to further consolidate the power necessary to tackle endemic corruption and push economic reform. Others of a more pessimistic inclination see this as a power grab that will lead to greater repression inside China, which under Xi has already reached levels unprecedented in decades, and a higher likelihood that China will flex its muscles to grab territory in the East and South China Sea, as well as the top real-estate prize — Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lufthansa, British Airways Give in to Chinese Pressure, List Taiwan as Part of China

Two more carriers now list Taiwan as part of China on their web sites as Beijing threatens fines for ‘violations’ to advertisement and cyber regulations 

Chinese pressure on global companies has scored more successes in recent days, with Taiwanese netizens discovering in the past week that German carrier Lufthansa and British Airways are now listing Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” and “Taiwan (China)” respectively on their web sites. 

The changes, which have sparked anger among many Taiwanese, follows similar incidents involving various brands in recent months, including Qantas, Delta Airline, Zara, Marriott International and Medtronic. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Top Chinese Military Strategist Bemoans KMT’s Lack of Commitment to Unification

Members of the Kuomintang who visit China are ‘lying and eating and drinking’, a Chinese military strategist argues 

Speaking in a recent interview, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Major General Zhu Chenghu reserved harsh words for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the party in Taiwan that, according to the narrative, is supposed to be Beijing’s “natural ally” in promoting the unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. 

“Today’s KMT is no longer the KMT of yesterday,” Zhu, a military strategist and former dean of China’s National Defense University, told reporters, adding that party members who visit China and ostensibly support unification are all, in reality, doing little more than “lying and eating and drinking.” 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Congress Is Right to Stand Up for Taiwan

A bill that would allow exchanges between senior US and Taiwanese officials is making its way in Congress, sparking some push-back by China and some critics in academia 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed the Taiwan Travel Act on February 7, 2018, a bill that would permit exchanges and visits by senior Taiwanese and American government officials. Seen by Beijing as a ploy to undermine “one China,” the bill has also attracted criticism by some American academics, who regard the move as “unnecessary” and “provocative.” 

Bill H.R.535, which the House of Representatives passed on January 9, will now be sent to the floor of the U.S. Senate. If it becomes law, it would “allow officials at all levels of the United States government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts,” and mark a milestone in relations since the United States shifted official diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China in 1979. 

Continues here.