Saturday, July 21, 2018

It's Time to Stop China's Seaward Expansion

Through our inattention, we have lost control of the South China Sea, which Beijing now occupies and has militarized. It is now time to push back, and the best place to do so is in the East China Sea 

There was a time, when President Barack Obama was still in the White House, when the U.S.-led coalition in the Asia-Pacific could have responded to, and perhaps countered, the creeping occupation and militarization of the South China Sea. According to many security experts, the window for such action has now closed, and Beijing has successfully created irreversible facts on the ground. If that is indeed the case, then freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) and other measures are too little, too late. China has engineered a new status quo in the South China Sea, and efforts to counter its larger ambitions should henceforth focus elsewhere. 

What is perhaps most surprising about what has occurred in the South China Sea in the past decade isn’t so much that China has succeeded in building a series of artificial islands and militarizing what it regards as its “lake,” but rather that the international community would be caught unawares by the current state of affairs. From the outset, Beijing telegraphed its intentions in the South China Sea, and if it has become a no-go zone for others in the region, and for the United States, it is largely the result of our inattention and our failure to read the tea leaves. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Threatened Ban on Hong Kong National Party Signals Beijing’s Weakness

One hell of a contrast: As Beijing renders illegal small political parties in the Hong Kong experiment with autonomy, Taiwan has moved in the opposite direction, even allowing the existence of political parties that openly advocate for unification 

Hong Kong authorities this week signaled that the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) could be banned under the Societies Ordinance. 

If HKNP is banned, it would be illegal to be a member of the party, to raise funds for it or to act on its behalf. Violators could face up to three years imprisonment and a HK$12,000 fine. Party leaders have been given three weeks to make the case as to why HKNP should not be slapped a prohibition order, which would ostensibly be issued “in the interest of national security.” 

Continues here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Xi-Lien Meeting: Same Old Platitudes, With Two Possible Gems

Given how little the two men gave us to run with, all we’re left with is what wasn’t said, or things half-said, which may give us a glimpse of the unconscious elements that fuel the narrative. If we’re lucky, those may yield opportunities for conflict resolution 

Anyone who expected substance from last Friday’s meeting in Beijing between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and former Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Lien Chan was probably asking for the impossible. As expected, the two men mostly regurgitated the same old platitudes about “one China” and the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 

The fact that Xi can only meet someone like Lien, whose relevance in Taiwanese affairs has markedly dimmed over the years, speaks volumes about Beijing’s inability to entertain contact with people who can actually influence the shape and direction of Taiwanese politics. In fact, Xi has largely limited himself to meetings with people, like the 81-year-old Lien, the unelectable Hung Hsiu-chu (dumped by her own party ahead of the 2016 elections), and Yok Mu-ming, chairman of the marginal pro-unification New Party, who are unlikely to challenge him and whose views, I must add, are completely out of sync with the large majority of Taiwanese — in both the “green” and “blue” camps.  

Continues here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taiwan in Dead Center of China’s Greater Territorial Ambitions

Beijing is determined to rewrite the rules in the Asia-Pacific region. No matter who occupies the Presidential Office in Taipei, that will be a problem for them 

China on Monday accused the United States of “playing psychological games” and “harming peace and stability” after two U.S. Navy warships transited the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, the first such passage since July 2017. 

The Japan-based USS Mustin and USS Benfold Arleigh Burke-class destroyers made the transit in international waters late on Saturday evening as part of routine freedom of navigation passages. U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown said that “U.S. Navy ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait and have done so for many years.” 

Continues here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Neutrality for Taiwan: A Dangerous Proposal

Former vice president Annette Lu and her supporters have floated the idea of a ‘neutral’ Taiwan that is ‘devoted to peace.’ Not only is that proposal based on a naive view of China, it could take Taiwan down the road to ruin 

Sometime in 2014, former vice president Annette Lu and other luminaries launched her Peace and Neutrality for Taiwan Alliance, an initiative that seeks to secure genuine political neutrality for Taiwan as the region becomes a battleground for U.S. and Chinese influence. 

Under Lu’s proposal, which would come in the form of a referendum, Taiwan would “give up confrontation with China, and … proclaim to the world that we want peace and neutrality. “We will forge friendship with every country that is friendly to us, including China,” she told a press conference last year. 

Continues here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Is Taiwan Ready for an Aggressive China?

Despite the rhetoric, Beijing still has not made Taiwan its No. 1 priority. Taipei cannot afford to wait for the day when it does, and in the meantime could made a few policy changes that would increase its chances of survival 

For all the harsh rhetoric coming out of China and growing frequency of exercises by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), it remains far from convincing that the unification of Taiwan is the top priority for Beijing. But that could change, and when it does, Taiwan had better be prepared to meet that extraordinary challenge. The problem is that, sadly, there are few signs of serious preparation in Taipei for that day. 

Things could be far worse. Notwithstanding Beijing’s saber-rattling and the lifting of term limits for President Xi Jinping, Taiwan remains one of a series of issues with which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has to grapple. Besides a looming trade war with America and spreading blowback by countries that feel threatened by China, there is every indication that the Chinese economy is headed for trouble. It is rife with contradictions and unsustainable in its present form. Although the economy will not contribute to the collapse of China or of the removal of the CCP from control, it is nevertheless sufficient to make President Xi uncertain as to his grip on power. In fact, Xi is increasingly paranoid about those who might want to unseat him—especially now that constitutional mechanisms for doing so have been dispensed with. The tightening of controls over almost every sector of Chinese society, as well as increased restrictions on the ability of Chinese to interact with their foreign counterparts, tells of a regime that feels insecure. In other words, China’s CCP and Xi is feared rather than loved. Therefore, state stability and regime survival, are the CCP’s top priority and will remain so for the foreseeable future. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Say What You Want, Opposing Same-Sex Marriage Is Not a Human Right

Expanding human rights so that visible minorities are treated as equals under the law should be the aspiration of any democratic society. The granting of such rights may clash with the views, opinions and beliefs of certain groups and individuals. But it does not, in any way, violate their human rights 

As anti-LGBT groups in Taiwan continue to warn society of the purported dangers associated with the legalization of same-sex unions, many have turned the tables on the issue by claiming that opposition to gay marriage is a human right and that it ought to be protected under the democratic principle of freedom of expression. 

By doing so, opponents seek to create a moral equivalence, one in which there is no right or wrong. This argument creates losers no matter what: as long as the issue continues to be debated, gays and lesbians remain unable to form a union like the rest of us; and should laws be promulgated that do permit same-sex unions, the losers would be the opponents, whose human rights would be “violated.”  

Continues here.

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. 

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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. 

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