Sunday, November 29, 2015

VOTE 2016: The DPP Did Not Mastermind Sino-Skepticism

China’s actions and repressive political system are to blame for public apprehensions about China, not the DPP 

Lacking an actual policy platform ahead of the January 2016 elections, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) camp appears to have made it a policy to blame the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for just about everything, from tainted cooking oil to the state of the economy. On the campaign trail today, Mr. Chu continued that trend with accusations that the DPP had “masterminded,” presumably for political gain, “Sino-skepticism” among a large swath of young Taiwanese. 

Mr. Chu is absolutely right: many young Taiwanese today are apprehensive about China and wary of its intentions. A small number of them could even be said to have feelings of hatred for their neighbor and want nothing to do with it. 

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

Monday, November 23, 2015

DMG Bid to Buy Taiwan’s Top TV Network Has PLA Twist

The powerful Chinese man behind the attempted acquisition of Eastern Broadcasting Co is the son of a former top PLA leader 

The recent announcement that Los Angeles-based Dynamic Marketing Group (DMG) Entertainment is seeking to acquire Eastern Broadcasting Co, Ltd (EBC, 東森), the largest privately owned Mandarin-language TV network in Taiwan, from the private equity firm Carlyle Group for the sum of US$600 million has raised fears in Taiwan that the acquisition may be an indirect attempt by China to further penetrate the island-nation’s media environment. 

At first glance there isn’t anything overtly untoward about the transaction, which has been confirmed by a spokesman for Carlyle: Dan Mintz, chief executive of DMG Entertainment, has signed the deal, which will be subject to approval by the National Communications Commission (NCC), Taiwan’s broadcast regulator, and the Investment Commission at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. 

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

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Ma-Xi Summit: Democracy is Thicker than Blood

'In reality, the meeting was a distraction that is unlikely to fundamentally alter the face of politics between the two countries' 

The eyes of the international community were turned to Singapore this weekend for the “historic” summit between President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan and Xi Jinping of China—the first direct contact between the leaders of the two sides since the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Eager to portray the unprecedented meeting as a potential game-changer, some commentators flirted with hyperbole: an eighty-second handshake had reversed six decades of hostility, realizing common hopes that, we were told, would propel relations across the Taiwan Strait in an entirely new and hopefully peaceful direction. All of this, however, was overhyped by media that thrive on dramatics. In reality, the meeting was a distraction that is unlikely to fundamentally alter the face of politics between the two countries. 

It was certainly tempting to regard the summit as a milestone in cross-Strait relations, especially among latecomers to the issue, who may not have had all the information they needed to fully grasp the hugely complex relationship that exists between China and Taiwan, the democracy of twenty-three million that Beijing regards as a mere breakaway province awaiting “reunification” and the significance (or lack thereof) of the meeting. 

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

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Ma and Xi Hold ‘Historic’ Meeting in Singapore

Despite the little substance to the summit, President Ma’s reference to ‘one China’ has sparked severe criticism back in Taiwan 

For the first time since the creation of the People’s Republic of China after the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the leaders of Taiwan and China met in Singapore on November 7, in a summit that has been widely described as “historic.” Historic it certainly was, and this was the big news internationally on Saturday. But as expected, photo ops and a long handshake aside, the landmark meeting yielded precious little substance and is unlikely to have much of an impact on future relations between Taiwan and China, as that will be decided elsewhere. 

Media worldwide, which normally fail to pay attention to Taiwan, took a sudden interest in the place following the sudden announcement, late on November 3, that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would hold a meeting in a third country on November 7. No sooner had the news spread than talking heads began talking of a “game changer,” of a new phase in relations across the Taiwan Strait, which until a few years ago had been regarded as a dangerous flashpoint. 

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

Friday, November 06, 2015

China-Taiwan summit: Empty symbolism or game changer?

Those who look for a game changer on Saturday stand to be disappointed 

The oft-neglected island-nation of Taiwan was at the center of international news this week after it was announced that its President, Ma Ying-jeou, and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, will hold a summit in Singapore on Saturday. 

Described as "historic," the meeting—the first between the leaders of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists defeated Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces in a brutal civil war, forcing Chiang and more than a million Nationalists to flee to Taiwan—promises additional drama ahead of Taiwan's upcoming presidential elections and could have repercussions on future relations between Taiwan and China. 

My article, published today on the CNN web site, continues here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

BREAKING: Presidents Ma, Xi, to Meet in Singapore Nov. 7

Less than two months before presidential and legislative elections in which the KMT is expected to fare poorly, a bombshell that is sure to shake things up… 

The Presidential Office in Taipei confirmed late on the evening of Nov. 3 that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and President Xi Jinping (習近平) are to meet each other in Singapore on Nov. 7. Both leaders have reportedly been invited by Singaporean authorities. President Xi will head for Singapore after visiting Vietnam. 

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

Monday, November 02, 2015

China’s Taiwan Policy Under Xi Jinping and Implications in a Time of Transition

Ideology is a driver of Xi’s policy, but its influence must also be weighed against other, and often more pragmatic, considerations 

The challenge of analyzing and writing about China’s Taiwan policy — or any policy that touches on China’s “national security,” for that matter — lies in the country’s authoritarian style of governance, which often makes information difficult to access. Moreover, due to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology, more often than not we can only guess what the Chinese leadership really thinks. 

China has undeniably been very clear and consistent about its position on Taiwan (it is part of China awaiting “re-unification”), but ironically that clarity does not necessarily help us understand what China’s actual short-term, medium-term and long-term policies regarding Taiwan are. 

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