Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving in to local Chinese zealotry

We seem to have entered an era where state governors, mayors and officials in the world’s most powerful nations can be browbeaten by lowly Chinese officials who are slightly overzealous in their nationalistic entrepreneurialism

Over the years, Chinese authorities have relentlessly attempted to prevent Taiwan from joining international organizations lest this give Taipei the sovereign legitimacy that Beijing considers anathema to its “one China” principle.

Although such behavior has made it impossible for Taiwan to have its voice heard in international forums like the UN or the WHO, Beijing’s object was ostensibly the symbolism of Taiwanese participation rather than the practicalities and benefits that Taiwan would derive from membership.

Despite superficially warmer ties between Taipei and Beijing since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) launched his cross-strait lovefest two years ago, Chinese officials have often overlooked the “goodwill” they are alleged to have showered on their Taiwanese compatriots by continuing to deny Taiwan international breathing space. This has targeted symbols of Taiwanese nationhood, such as a delegation of moviemakers at the Tokyo International Film Festival in late October attending under the name “Taiwan.”

However, behind such headline-grabbing acts of insanity lurk several instances of Chinese officials impeding Taiwanese efforts in a different sphere altogether: the economic sector. This is often the result of Chinese officials at the local level pressuring governments by raising the specter of Chinese “anger.”

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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