Friday, July 29, 2016

Due to ‘Safety Concerns’, Chinese Dance Competition Cancels HK Venue, Shifts to Taiwan

Various pro-CCP groups have been protesting outside Macpherson Stadium in Mong Kok District since July 20, prompting management to cancel its contract with the organizers of the competition 

In yet another sign that Taiwan is the last remaining free society in the Chinese-speaking world, a Chinese dance competition has been forced to relocate to Taiwan after the last-minute cancellation of a contract by the managers of a venue in Hong Kong. 

The preliminary round of the seventh New Tang Dynasty International Chinese Classical Dance Competition was set to begin at Macpherson Stadium, in Mong Kok District, on Aug. 1. However, as the Epoch Times reports, “rowdy” and “aggressive” members of Chinese Communist Party front groups had been protesting outside the venue since July 18. Some of the protesters are said to have used loudspeakers and megaphones to hurl abuse at the organizers and the Falun Gong spiritual group, which is closely associated with NTD and is outlawed in China proper. By July 25, eight front groups were reportedly protesting outside the venue. 

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Bear and a Complex Character: New Symbols of Taiwanese Patriotism?

Symbols are essential to nationalism, and Taiwan will need more of those if it is to succeed in making the case for its continued existence as a distinct political entity on the international stage 

Developments in China in recent years have showcased how expressions of patriotic or nationalistic fervor can spin out of control and cause apprehension in the region. 

Several incidents in recent months, from online campaigns launched by the Communist Youth League against “separatist” performance artists to Beijing’s intransigent stance in the South China Sea dispute, stem from a deepening of the Chinese nationalism cultivated by the Chinese Communist Party and drilled into the minds and hearts of Chinese citizens from a very young age. Some would argue that the Chinese nationalism on display today, what with the many references to Han blood and militaristic undertones, is now approaching its much more worrying related cousin — fascism. 

Across the Taiwan Strait, the liberal-democratic nation of Taiwan, which China regards as indivisibly part of its territory since time immemorial (nationalism again), has countered the overbearing Chinese narrative much more quietly. 

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Taiwan, Hong Kong Artists Forced to Sign ‘No Separatism’ Form: Reports

While there has not been any confirmation of a new rule, several artists have heard rumors that they will have to sign the document to perform in China 

Following an incident earlier this month in which Taiwanese actor Leon Dai (戴立忍) was removed from a film project in China due to his alleged pro-Taiwan independence ideology, rumors are now circulating in the artistic community that Taiwanese and Hong Kong artists wishing to work on Chinese productions must sign a declaration promising not to “split the country.” The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported on July 26 that a number of Taiwanese artists had heard that the Chinese government was now asking performing artists from Taiwan and Hong Kong to sign a declaration vowing not to participate in various “separatist” activities to “split the country.” However, prior involvement in such “separatist” activities will be “forgiven.” 

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

Chinese Warns of ‘Soft’ and ‘Insidious’ Taiwan Independence Forces

Chinese officials and academics continue to fail to understand the origins of the widespread opposition to unification in Taiwan 

The chairwoman of China’s National Association of Taiwan Compatriots (中華全國台灣同胞聯誼會) on Tuesday warned of the dangers of “soft Taiwan independence” at a cross-Strait forum in China. Su Hui (蘇輝), chairwoman of the association, made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the 25th Cross-Strait Relations Symposium in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The forum, which brought together close to 100 academics, was sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ (CASS) Institute of Taiwan Studies. 

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Catalyst for KMT Reform?

In post-Sunflower Taiwan, the KMT’s ‘ill-gotten’ assets are more scarlet letter than an advantage 

After a marathon review in the legislature on Monday, the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) was finally passed, empowering the government to investigate, and presumably go after, the Kuomintang’s (KMT) “ill-gotten” assets. Traumatic though this experience may be, it could also be just what the KMT needs to reform and rejuvenate itself. 

Substantial resistance is expected. The KMT leadership has already promised to use every legal instrument at its disposal, including the request for a constitutional interpretation, to counter what elements within the party regard as retribution by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which now controls both the executive and legislative branches of government. 

My op-ed, published today in The News Lens International, continues here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Closing of the Chinese Mind

‘If we are to avoid major tensions in the Taiwan Strait, there will have to be a time when the people in Chinese academia and government who actually know what is going on in Taiwan are allowed to speak up’ 

Given how often Beijing has stated that Taiwan is a “core interest” of China, it is fascinating — disturbing, in fact — how little Chinese “experts” seem to understand Taiwanese society, even after eight years of much more frequent interactions between the two sides. Since Chinese annexationist designs on the democratic nation-state remain a potential cause of armed conflict between China and the U.S., one would hope that influential Chinese thinkers would be more refined in their analyses of the situation. Sadly, whether as a result of groupthink, fear of angering Beijing authorities or blind nationalism, Chinese academics are simply not delivering. 

No doubt there are academics in China who have a better grasp of what’s going on in Taiwan and the decades-long developments there that have contributed to its distinct identity. The problem, however, is that those tend to remain silent, or their views are, due to censorship, not given the oxygen they need to spread. 

My op-ed, published today in The News Lens International, continues here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ex-Convict Calls on ‘Anti-Independence Heroes’ to Firebomb DPP HQ

Tung Nien-tai is known to seek publicity and may be mentally unstable. Police have been alerted 

A former convict and debt collector yesterday called on people to combat Taiwanese independence by throwing petrol bombs at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters. Tung Nien-tai (董念台) made the call in a Facebook post on Wednesday, inviting hundreds of “anti-independence heroes” to take part in a “100 person surrender” event during which they would throw Molotov cocktails at the DPP building to “formally declare war” on Taiwanese independence. 

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Visit to Taiping Island: An Exercise in Wastefulness and Futility

A bipartisan group of Taiwanese legislators headed for the South China Sea today to ‘defend’ the nation’s sovereignty. All of this is grandstanding and does nothing to protect Taiwan against external aggression 

A group of legislators from the ruling and opposition parties on Wednesday hopped onto a C-130 military transport aircraft and landed on Taiping Island (Itu Aba) in the disputed South China Sea to reaffirm Taiwan’s sovereignty claims after a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last week designated the island as a rock, angering Taipei. 

The latest visit to the islet was initiated by Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who requested that Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense organize the trip after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “weak” response to last week’s ruling. Besides the legislators, fishermen from Southern Taiwan have also joined the visit. Legislators Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) and Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) are representing the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), where Lo also serves as director of international affairs. 

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Taiwan Must Avoid Short-Termism and Think Strategically

With control of both the legislative and executive branches of government, it must be very tempting for the DPP to take bold actions. But there are risks in doing so, and the Tsai administration is well aware of that 

Following the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) resounding victory in the Jan. 16 presidential and legislative elections, it has understandably been tempting for elements within the green camp to try to immediately fix issues of high symbolic importance to them, such as the rectification of names or the removal of portraits. 

Many of those efforts have occurred as the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration tries to find a proper balance in its efforts to achieve transitional justice. Such balance is necessary, as going for the Kuomintang’s (KMT) jugular would smack of triumphalism — or worse, retribution — mere months after the DPP has for the first time in Taiwan’s history captured both branches of government. 

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

Beijing Alters Recent History: Says Taipei Suspended Dialogue

China unilaterally suspended cross-strait communication mechanisms late last month after judging that President Tsai had failed to meet Beijing’s expectations 

Sometimes it is not enough for China’s propaganda organs to brainwash people through repetition, such as, say, by insisting that there is only one China and that Taiwan is indivisibly part of it. On some occasions the facts themselves must be created. 

China did just that at the weekend when the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Xinhua news agency reported on remarks by Taiwan Affairs Office chairman Zhang Zhijun (張志軍). During a speech at the fifth World Peace Forum in Beijing on Sunday, Zhang, a keen practitioner of saturation propaganda, touched on souring relations in the Taiwan Strait following the election of Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as president in Taiwan. 

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Chinese Communist Youth League Wins: Film Drops Taiwanese Actor from Project

After weeks of pressure online and a threat of boycott by Chinese ultranationalists, a film studio has given in and chose to replace Taiwan’s award-winning actor Leon Dai 

Following an online campaign attacking Chinese actress-turned-director Vicky Zhao (趙薇) for starring Taiwanese actor Leon Dai (戴立忍) in her upcoming movie “No Other Love,” the film studio said in a press release on July 15 that it has decided to drop the actor while the movie is still in production. 

Starting in late June, Chinese netizens and the Chinese Communist Youth League launched a boycott of Zhao’s movie, accusing Dai of supporting Taiwanese independence and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, among other things. Several nationalistic netizens observed that Zhao should put the state interest before “idol worship.” 

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Beijing in ‘State of Alert’ Ahead of Key Ruling on South China Sea

Armored vehicles and undercover police have been deployed around the Embassy of the Philippines in Beijing amid rumors of planned protests 

Hours before a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the South China Sea dispute, authorities in Beijing have issued instructions to law enforcement to increase security outside the Embassy of the Philippines and around the city. 

The decree comes in a tense atmosphere and amid rumors of possible large protests outside the embassy of the Philippines — the country that took the dispute to the court — as well as the Embassy of the United States, the country that Chinese nationalists blame for the whole mess. 

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

Communist Youth League Slams Chinese Film Director For Starring Taiwanese Actor

Chinese ultranationalists have called for a boycott of Vicki Zhao’s upcoming film for her casting of Taiwan’s Leon Dai as the lead actor 

China’s ultra-nationalistic Communist Youth League has launched an online campaign targeting actress-turned-director Vicki Zhao (趙薇) for her decision to cast a Taiwanese actor in her latest movie. Zhao’s movie, “No Other Love,” will feature Leon Dai (戴立忍) as the lead actor. The Communist Youth League has used its website and social media accounts, like Weibo, to call for a boycott of the movie — as well as other movies Zhao is involved with. It alleges that Dai is a supporter of Taiwanese independence and the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. 

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

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Explosion at Taiwan Train Station, 24 Injured

Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the explosion 

As many as 24 people were injured in an explosion on board a train at the Songshan Train Station in Taipei at 9:59 pm on July 7. The Taipei City Fire Department said it dispatched dispatched 12 fire engines, 11 ambulances and 66 rescue personnel to the scene. All injured passengers have been sent to hospital. One of the injured, a 24-year-old man, suffered second-degree burns on 30% of his body. Most other injuries were reportedly minor. 

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

Forbes’ Inexplicable Contempt for Taiwan

By putting it in the same category as Donald Trump, European nationalists and Rodrigo Duterte, Tim Ferguson provides an image of Taiwan’s democracy that is unfair in the extreme 

There is something about Forbes magazine and Taiwan that I’ve always struggled to explain, and that’s the publication’s apparent dislike for the island nation’s democratic achievements. Time and again, Forbes has published articles, many of them alarmist, that unashamedly present the democratic choices that the Taiwanese make as an impediment to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, or to its economic prosperity. 

Forbes renewed its assault in its current issue with an op-ed by Tim Ferguson titled “Asia Can Avoid Unprofitable Passions Of Nationalism.” In his piece, the author makes it very clear that he dislikes European nationalists and politicians like Donald Trump, whose candidacy he describes as “grotesque,” as well as the democratic decision surrounding Brexit, which he likens to a “political craze.” 

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

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Taiwan to Join Family of U.S.-Made AIM-9X Block II Missile Users

‘The missile would have made Top Gun a very short movie’ 

Tucson, Arizona-based Raytheon Co., Missile Systems on July 1 was awarded a US$291.8 million contract to supply 660 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to the U.S. military, as well as — for the first time — Taiwan and Norway. According to industry analysts, the AIM-9X Block II is the U.S.’ “most advanced short range air-air missile, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets behind the launching fighter.” 

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

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Top Chinese Official Calls for Greater Cooperation with Taiwan Media (Dream On)

Given the state of the media in China today, any closer cooperation with its highly censored and propagandistic news outlets would be suicidal for would-be partners 

The chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on Monday called for more exchanges and cooperation between Taiwanese and Chinese media. Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), China’s top political adviser, made the remarks while meeting a delegation from Taiwan headed by Want Want China Times Group Chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) in Beijing. 

If it feels like Yu’s proposal — and this is one that we have been hearing for years — is behind the times, that’s because it is. 

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

Monday, July 04, 2016

Missile Incident Propels New Round of Insanity in Taiwan’s Media

Like other forces the world over, the Taiwanese military is prone to mistakes. While it should be pressured to improve its performance, repeated public humiliation isn’t the way to reach that goal 

As expected, last week’s accidental firing of an anti-ship missile by a Taiwan Navy ship during a routine exercise, resulting in the death of a fishing boat captain, has sparked a storm of derision in Taiwan’s media, which never miss an occasion to belittle the nation’s armed forces. Friday’s Hsiung Feng III incident was unquestionably a serious blunder, one that warrants a full investigation and through review of the procedures that, in this case, failed to prevent the launch of a deadly missile. 

That being said, the accident and the reactions to it should not turn into a media circus or a platform to humiliate the men and women who every day put their lives on the line defending this nation’s way of life. 

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

Friday, July 01, 2016

Polish Journalists Denied Accreditation Due to Chinese Pressure

One of the journalists says that her criticism of Beijing’s human rights track record and her signing of an open letter ahead of President Xi’s visit last month are behind Warsaw’s giving in to Beijing’s demand that she be sidelined 

A polish journalist critical of China’s human rights record claims that she and at least one other reporter were unable to receive proper accreditation to cover President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) visit to Poland last month due to Beijing’s pressure on the Prime Minster’s Office in Warsaw. 

In yet another sign of China’s growing influence in Eastern Europe and the consequent impact on press freedom, Hania Shen, a journalist with Gazeta Polska Codziennie, says that she and another journalist were denied the accreditation required to be able to cover Xi’s separate meetings with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo. 

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

Taiwanese Navy ‘Mistakenly’ Fires ‘Carrier Killer’ Cruise Missile, Hits Fishing Vessel, Kills 1

Nobody was injured in the incident, and the Navy is conducting an investigation 

The Taiwanese Navy on Friday (July 1) announced that one of its vessels had mistakenly fired a Hsiung Feng 3 (HF-3) anti-ship missile earlier in the morning. 

Navy Command said the vessel, a Ching Chiang-class 580-tonne guided missile patrol ship from the 131 Navy Fleet based in Keelung, mistakenly fired the missile during a routine exercise near Zuoying Naval Base in the south. The missile landed near the outlying islands of Penghu, it said. The missile hit a fishing vessel, killing one and injuring three.

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