Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why Jiang Yi-huah Will be Able to Talk About Taiwan’s Democracy in Hong Kong

The former Taiwanese premier under president Ma Ying-jeou appears to have slipped through the firewall that has been erected around Hong Kong. But read the fine print 

With relations between Taiwan and China deteriorating in recent years, Hong Kong immigration authorities, ostensibly acting on orders from the central government in Beijing, have denied entry to a growing number of Taiwanese activists, officials, and democracy activists into the troubled former British colony. More rigid still have been immigration controls on individuals wishing to give lectures about democracy in Hong Kong. 

But not so for Jiang Yi-huah, the former premier of Taiwan, who is scheduled to give a talk on Feb. 16 at City University of Hong Kong, College of Business, titled — rather extraordinarily, given the current mood in the territory — “The Successes and Failures of Taiwanese Democracy and Its Meaning.” 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When They Get it Wrong

A bizarre analysis of Taiwan’s delegation to President Trump’s swearing-in ceremony exemplifies everything that is wrong with much of what is written about Taiwan overseas 

Last week I wrote about signs that China may be ramping up its disinformation campaign against Taiwan as part of its psychological warfare efforts to confuse and discredit the democratic island-nation. To do so, pro-Beijing media have been planting “alternative truths” and count on traditional outlets to replicate the information so that over time they become new “memes.” But there’s another element at play that is also detrimental to Taiwan’s ability to be known and understood: downright ignorance passing off as “expert analysis.” 

For various reasons that I have discussed elsewhere, Taiwan hasn’t received the attention it deserves in international media and academic blogs. This changed somewhat following the brief telephone conversation between President Tsai Ing-wen and then president elect Donald J. Trump on Dec. 2 and Mr. Trump’s subsequent remarks concerning “one China.” All of a sudden, and on the assumption that trouble was brewing, Taiwan was “newsworthy” again for international media and think tanks. 

Continues here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

China Intensifies Disinformation Campaign Against Taiwan

Banking on structural weaknesses in today’s media, Beijing has succeeded in broadcasting a false narrative about Taiwan, often on a global scale 

Chinese media and the state apparatus appear to have joined hands to intensify a campaign of propaganda and disinformation targeting Taiwan, with fabrication, half-truths and comments taken out of context aimed at sowing confusion across the democratic nation and undermining its image abroad. 

Although there is nothing particularly new about disinformation campaigns — in fact the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long used this as a tool in and outside China — their utility tends to increase in times of conflict or when a party is not getting what it wants from an ideological opponent, as is currently the case in the Taiwan Strait. 

Disinformation is a key component of political or psychological warfare activity that seeks to weaken the enemy by undermining trust and cohesion across society. Although disinformation can be broadcast using various channels (think tanks, academic conferences, social forums and so on), mass media are the principal means of diffusion and the practice thrives in societies where journalism is either hampered by authoritarian censorship or, even in more open societies, a poor track record of fact-checking. 

Continues here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

China Goes After Taiwan’s Allies, Official and Not

Given Taiwan’s unusual situation, the erosion of unofficial relationships with key countries could in the long run be more damaging to its survival than the theft of official diplomatic allies. 

Following a visit by China’s Foreign Minister earlier this week, Nigerian authorities ordered Taiwan to move its representative office in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to Lagos, the country’s commercial center, and to curtail “diplomatic privileges” and staff, a move that, besides the insult, presages escalating efforts by Beijing to narrow Taiwan’s international space. 

Beyond the symbolism of seeing its de-facto embassy removed from the capital, Nigerian officials and organizations have also reportedly been ordered to avoid all official exchanges with Taiwan. Consequently, Taiwan’s presence in the oil-rich African country has been relegated to that of a mere trade office, trade being the only exercise that Beijing officially countenances between Taiwan and the international community. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

China Tightens Pincers on Taiwan

While the external threat to Taiwan appears to be growing, Beijing could also increase its cooperation with local proxies to undermine the island-nation’s social stability and discredit its democracy 

Unable to win enough hearts and minds in Taiwan after eight years of closer engagement and unwilling to explore a more accommodating modus vivendi with its democratic neighbor, Beijing in recent months has adopted an increasingly maximalist stance on cross-Strait relations that could mean trouble for the region in the coming years. 

Deep frustrations, coupled with nationalistic fervor, an upcoming party congress in which Chinese politicians vying for key positions within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will feel compelled to demonstrate their intransigence on the Taiwan “question,” and uncertainty regarding the future direction of U.S.-Taiwan ties under incoming president Donald Trump, have led the leadership in Beijing down a dangerous road, one in which the desire to “punish” Taiwan for the choices its people have arrived at by democratic means supersedes the incentives for dialogue and stability. 

Continues here.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Sorry Beijing: States Have Sovereign Rights

Whatever we might say about the Trump camp, they are stiffening American spines when it comes to doing the right thing by democratic Taiwan 

A handful of U.S. officials in the past 24 hours did what many heads of state and ministries worldwide have failed to do in recent years — they reclaimed their country’s sovereign right to decide who to allow into their territory and who to engage with, thus ignoring the warnings of retaliation by Beijing that, far too often, have succeeded in isolating individuals whom China regards as its enemies. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, on her way to Central America, where she will visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador this week, made a stopover in Houston at the weekend, despite a request by Beijing that she not be allowed in the U.S. During her two-day stay in Texas, Tsai met members of the Taiwanese-American community as well as top Republican officials, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz. She also had a telephone conversation with U.S. senator John McCain, head of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. 

Continues here.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Pro-unification Groups, Triad Members Threaten Hong Kong Activist Joshua Wong, Legislators in Taiwan

Brief altercations at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport this morning when pro-Beijing gangsters broke through police lines and tried to assault Hong Kong activists 

About 200 people mobilized by the pro-unification Patriot Association (愛國同心會) and pro-Beijing gangsters gathered at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to protest the arrival of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and pro-self determination legislators early today and clashed with police as they tried to assault them. 

Wong, who played a leadership role in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, Eddie Chu (朱凱廸), Edward Yiu (姚松炎) and Nathan Law (羅冠聰), legislators who advocate for the territory’s self-determination, were invited to Taiwan to participate in a forum on self-determination held in Taipei this afternoon (Jan. 7) and tomorrow. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

China’s ‘Soft Powerlessness’

Ultra-nationalistic Chinese citizens and organizations are out of control on the Internet and harassing Beijing’s opponents in ways that often undermine the state’s interests. 

As China’s comprehensive national power continues to grow, so has the nationalist sentiment among Chinese citizens, which in recent years has become an extremely vocal component of China’s external policy. But in the areas where state power has failed to translate into policy successes, such as in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, those expressions of nationalistic fervor have often turned to frustrated rage rather than a tool of persuasion or “soft power.” 

When it comes to Taiwan, the Chinese consternation has been most apparent online, largely due to the election of Tsai Ing-wen of the Taiwan-centric Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in January 2016 and the abject failure of eight years of rapprochement under M. Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, during which Beijing hoped to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese and thereby facilitate unification. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A New Voice for Taiwan in Times of High Uncertainty

The years ahead promise to be challenging ones for Taiwan. More than ever, its people need to engage the international community so that their nation’s complex situation and value to the world as a free democratic society are properly understood. 

After a transformative 2016, which saw another peaceful transition of power in Taiwan, 2017 is now upon us and promises to be as, if not even more, eventful. A new administration will enter the White House in the U.S. later this month, and in China the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will hold its party congress later this year, during which the next generation of party leaders will be selected. In Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen will continue to face several challenges, from reviving the nation’s stagnant economy to navigating the uncertain waters of the U.S.-Taiwan-China trilateral relationship to facing off with a Chinese leadership that seems intent on punishing Taiwan for the democratic choices its people have made. 

Continues here.

U.S. Hate Group MassResistance Behind Anti-LGBT Activities in Taiwan

The Christian-led movement against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan is now being directly aided by a group from the Extreme Right in the United States. 

A Massachusetts-based anti-gay organization has been playing a behind-the-scenes role in efforts by conservative Christians in Taiwan to block legal amendments that would turn Taiwan into the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. 

According to a Dec. 27 blog entry, MassResistance’s point man in Taiwan is Arthur Christopher Schaper, head of the California branch of the organization, “who has been working tirelessly with Taiwanese activists, expatriates in the US, and others to get the word out.” On Dec. 24, the Chinese-language service of Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency ran a piece exposing how MassResistance has been trying to “educate” the Taiwanese public on the supposedly nefarious impact of homosexual unions using Chinese-language translations of a video titled “What ‘gay marriage’ did to Massachusetts” as well as a booklet. 

Continues here.

Book Review: Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard

In his latest book, professor Bruce Jacobs walks us through the key trials surrounding the Kaohsiung Incident and gets down and personal with his own troubles with the Taiwanese authorities at the time.  

Following his sweeping history of Taiwan’s democratization (Democratizing Taiwan, Brill: 2012), Taiwan hand Bruce Jacobs in his latest book narrows the scope of his research by focusing on the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979-1980 and the trials of pro-democracy activists that followed. In this slim two-part volume titled The Kaohsiung Incident in Taiwan and Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard, Jacobs provides the context in which the events leading to the transformative incident occurred — what he calls the “Dangwai setting” when civil society pressured the authoritarian Kuomintang (KMT) to open the space for political participation — and through a blow-by-blow exploration of the military trial of eight key defendants shows how those developments ultimately contributed to Taiwan’s democratization. Most of the defendants, along with their defense lawyers, would eventually assume key positions in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and later on in government. 

Continues here.