Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Getting It Right Before 520: The Chang Ching-sen Case

Civil society must be part of the Tsai Ing-wen administration’s coalition. Alienating it at the outset is not a recommendable policy 

It’s about three weeks before the May 20 inauguration, and already the Tsai Ing-wen administration is in hot water. 

Sadly the wound is a self-inflicted one, what with Chang Ching-sen, a minister without portfolio to-be for the incoming administration, making inappropriate remarks this week about the Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District, a controversy that sparked rounds of protests by civic groups a few years ago. This is an early test for the Tsai administration. Here’s why it must handle it accordingly, and the damage that this could cause if it doesn’t do so could have far-reaching consequences. 

My article, published today in The News Lens International, continues here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

China Spews Vitriol Over ‘Taiwan Night’ in Ottawa

For 20 years Taiwan’s representative office to Canada has held its gala, described as a ‘big draw’ for Canadian MPs. But this year China cried foul 

It’s not been a particularly good past couple of weeks in cross-strait relations, what with China’s “abduction” of 45 Taiwanese, elbowing out of Taiwan from a high-level OECD meeting in Brussels, and questions on whether Beijing will pressure the WHO and ICAO to block Taipei’s efforts to join the organizations as an observer. And now we’re learning that the Chinese embassy in Ottawa has blasted Canadian MPs and Cabinet officials for attending Taiwan Night 2016, an event hosted by the Taipei Economic and Culture Office (TECO) in Canada. 

Described as an evening of food, drinks, and cultural performances, the April 13 dinner reception at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa was attended by several serving and retired Canadian politicians. According to the Hill Times, Chinese officials were “angered” by speeches given by Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr and Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote and infuriated when veteran Liberal Party MPs Hedy Fry and Wayne Easter referred to reality by calling Taiwan a country. Conservative MP Jason Kenney, a former minister of defense and immigration, described Taiwan as “the one-word rebuttal to the notion that Chinese culture is not compatible with democracy.” 

My article, published today in Thinking Taiwan, continues here (photo: Epoch Times).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kenyan Extraditions Raise Questions on Stability of China-Taiwan Relations

Yes, Taiwan must do more to combat Internet scammers. But by overreaching, Beijing has turned this into a political issue

Last week’s controversy over Kenya’s extradition of 45 Taiwanese nationals to China, likely at Beijing’s request, has pointed to souring relations across the Taiwan Strait just a month before the inauguration of a new president in Taipei. Although some have interpreted the incident as a warning directed at the incoming Tsai Ing-wen, whose party opposes unification with China, Beijing’s actions likely resulted from other, though no less troubling, dynamics.

The outrage in Taiwan, which sparked a rare moment of unity in the island nation’s deeply divided political scene, stemmed from Nairobi’s decision to deport the suspects to China rather than Taiwan, even after the Kenyan High Court had cleared them of involvement in telecommunications fraud and given them three weeks to leave the country. Protests by Taiwanese officials, who quickly described the extradition as an act of “illegal abduction,” were to no avail.

My article, published today in the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory, continues here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Fallacy of Yang Hengjun’s ‘Third Option’ for Unification

Sample bias undermines a Chinese author's argument that a third option exists for China to achieve the great dream of national unification 

In a recent post (original in Chinese here), Yang Hengjun (楊恆均), a former official in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs-turned “independent scholar, novelist, and blogger,” presents three scenarios through which unification between Taiwan and China could occur. The first two — “natural unification” following a convergence of social institutions and unification by force triggered by a declaration of independence — were suggestions by netizens after Yang invited his followers on Weibo to discuss the matter. Yang, however, argues that a third option exists to achieve what he calls the “great cause of national unification”: factionalism in Taiwan. Here’s why Yang is probably wrong.  

My latest article, published today in The News Lens International, continues here.

China Forces Taiwan Out of High-Level OECD Meeting in Belgium

Beijing appears to be turning the screws on Taiwan 

In another sign of Beijing’s hardening stance on Taiwan, government representatives from Taiwan on April 18 were asked to leave a high-level meeting at an international steel symposium held by the OECD Steel Committee and the Belgian government after organizers were reportedly pressured by China. 

Giving in to pressure from the Chinese side, which claimed that the Taiwanese delegates were not “senior enough,” Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters weighed in and requested the members of the Taiwanese delegation leave the afternoon High-Level Symposium on Excess Capacity, according to reports. Despite its protests, the Taiwanese delegation was expelled, prompting Taiwan’s representative office in Brussels to issue a protest with the Belgian government. Taipei has since protested with the OECD and to Beijing via the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the agency in charge of relations with China. 

My article, published today in Thinking Taiwan, continues here (photo: Reuters).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can China get away with abducting people overseas?

With the abduction of 45 Taiwanese nationals, China is sending an ominous signal to Taipei and the international community 

The ongoing crisis over the deportation by Kenyan authorities of 45 Taiwanese nationals to China has sparked consternation in Taipei and accusations of international kidnapping worldwide. 

Besides the fact that the individuals were cleared of all crimes by a Kenyan court, their extradition to China, ostensibly due to pressure from Chinese officials, raises essential questions about the future implications of the "one China" policy in a time of greater Chinese assertiveness. 

My article, published today on CNN, continues here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

China ‘Abducts’ Taiwanese in Kenya

The forced deportation of Taiwanese citizens to China sparks fears about extraterritoriality 

Taiwanese of all stripes were aghast this week after eight Taiwanese nationals were among a group of Chinese citizens forced onto a plane to China last Friday. It is not known why Chinese authorities sought to have the Taiwanese extradited to China; the eight had been cleared of charges of telecommunications fraud by a court in in Kenya. The incident, which Taipei has described as “illegal abduction” and “uncivilized action,” raises serious questions about Chinese extraterritoriality and the “one China” policy. 

The eight nationals in question were among a total of 37 individuals — 23 of them Taiwanese — who were acquitted of fraud in an April 5 Kenya High Court decision and were given 21 days to leave Kenya. One of the eight is reportedly a Taiwanese-American. The remaining 15 Taiwanese were put on a plane to China on Tuesday, also in defiance of the court order. Chinese officials in Kenya reportedly pressured Kenyan authorities to send the Taiwanese nationals to China. 

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