Monday, March 27, 2017

China’s New Terror Campaign Against Foreign Opponents

A wave of disappearances in recent years could be part of ongoing efforts by Beijing to further insulate China from external influences 

Amid a tightening of ideological controls in Xi Jinping’s increasingly paranoid China, the country’s security apparatus appears to have launched a campaign of targeted disappearances against foreign activists and academics to further insulate China from external influences and deter potential interlopers. 

Beijing’s belief that external forces are trying to destabilize China is nothing new. From protests in Tibet to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have often stated — without ever producing convincing evidence — that foreign elements were behind the unrest. Foreign governments, institutions such as the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and media moguls critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have all at some point been accused by Beijing of conspiring to cause trouble within China. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why Strengthening the Taiwan-Japan Alliance Makes Perfect Sense

Taiwan-Japan security cooperation is not only logical; it is essential 

Amid uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s plans for US engagement in the Asia-Pacific, it makes sense for states with a longstanding dependence on American security guarantees to consider alternative measures to ensure they retain the ability to defend themselves against regional challengers and revisionist powers. 

Like other states situated on the peripheries of the global US security architecture that has prevailed since the end of World War II, Taiwan has greatly benefited from American support, particularly in countering the territorial aspirations of rising powers. 

Absent continued US political and military support for vulnerable 'peripheral' states, the logic goes, revisionist powers like China, Russia and Iran may be tempted to resolve a longstanding dispute through use of force. The latest iteration of such behavior was Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which many believe occurred in large part due to Moscow’s conviction that the American leadership, along with European states and NATO, did not have the appetite for a fight over Ukraine’s territorial integrity. 

My article, published today in the Lowy Interpreter, continues here.

Beijing Leans on Nigeria to ‘Fully Implement’ ‘One China’ Policy, Avoid ‘Two Chinas’

The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria is calling upon Abuja to ensure the ‘full execution’ of the ‘one China’ policy 

During a visit to Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) this week, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian, accompanied by Deputy Ambassador Jing Lin and Political Officer Peng Chen, lamented that Nigeria had not fully implemented its “one China” policy and called on the oil-rich African country to meet its part of the bargain. 

Following the announcement of a pledge by Beijing of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects in Nigeria, Abuja announced in January that Taiwan’s representative office in the capital was to be downgraded and relocated to Lagos, the country’s commercial center. Due to pressure from Chinese authorities, “diplomatic privileges” and staff at Taiwan’s mission were also to be curtailed. 

Continues here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

MND Confirms DF-16 Medium-Range Ballistic Missile Deployed Against Taiwan

The ballistic missile threat against Taiwan just got more serious

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense today confirmed for the first time that China has deployed and is targeting the island-nation with the advanced Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) ballistic missile. 

The DF-16, a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with an estimated range of 800-1,000 km, is believed to be maneuverable and may carry multiple warheads (Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicles, or MIRV), according to a MND report to Taiwan’s legislature this morning. Due to the higher altitude it must reach before descending towards its target, the faster re-entry of a medium-range missile also poses additional challenges for tracking and interception and could overwhelm Taiwan’s PAC-2/3 air defense systems. 

Continues here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Taiwan to Increase Defense Spending, Improve Military Capabilities

With the DPP controlling the legislature, Taiwan could finally succeed in setting defense spending at 3% of GDP, something that hasn’t occurred since 1999. But will that be enough to ensure it can defend itself? A look at the Ministry of National Defense’s latest QDR 

Taiwan will increase defense spending to nearly 3% of GDP and acquire a series of new capabilities to deter China, Ministry of National Defense (MND) officials told the legislature upon the release of the ministry’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) on Thursday. 

Mandated by the National Defense Act, the QDR provides an update on military readiness, planning and strategy, and must be made available within 10 months of a presidential inauguration. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Fall Of Ma Ying-jeou

The belief that those in power are using the court system to punish their opponents bespeaks a deep cynicism about Taiwanese politics 

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Tuesday indicted former president Ma Ying-jeou over allegations that he abetted a leak of classified information during an investigation against an opposition lawmaker in 2013. 

Ma, of the Kuomintang party (KMT), was in office from 2008–16. According to the court, his actions were in violation of the Communication Security and Surveillance Act, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Criminal Code. In September 2013, State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming reportedly provided Ma with transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the KMT and Ker Chien-ming, a senior lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), collected as part of an ongoing investigation into influence peddling at the Legislative Yuan, the nation’s parliament. 

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Beijing Counts on Handful of Allies in Taiwan to Keep Propaganda Drive Alive

With the KMT still struggling to get back on its feet and the Tsai administration not giving an inch on the ‘1992 consensus’ and ‘one China,’ Beijing now counts on smaller parties and civic groups to reinforce those notions with the Taiwanese public. 

One of the classic ingredients in the recipe for political propaganda is repetition — convince your opponent (or erode his resistance) through the sustained reinforcement of a notion, or create new facts by saturating the environment with signals that reinforce the message. With its ideological allies in Taiwan, Beijing is intensifying its propaganda work on the so-called “1992 consensus” and “one China” in an effort to convince the Taiwanese public that their welfare depends on the government’s embrace of both. 

Continues here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis: The Forgotten Showdown Between China and America

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the Missile Crisis of 1996, when China fired missiles off the northern and southern tips of Taiwan and held large-scale military exercises to intimidate the Taiwanese ahead of the country's first-ever direct presidential election. Much of that history, and the lessons learned, is forgotten. In the new regional order, what does this mean for Taiwan, and what role can it play in a part of the world that is now bristling with ballistic missiles? 

Twenty-one years ago this week, as Taiwanese were readying to hold their country’s first direct presidential election later in March, China flexed its military muscles by holding a series of military exercises and firing missiles within thirty-five miles off the ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung, causing a panic in Taiwan and prompted U.S. President William J. Clinton to deploy a carrier battle group to international waters near Taiwan. 

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, as the events came to be known, disrupted naval shipping and commercial air traffic, causing harm to Taiwan’s economy. Amid fears of a possible invasion—fuelled by planned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercises simulating an amphibious assault and live-fire exercises near the outlying island of Penghu—Taiwanese scrambled to reserve seats on flights to North America. 

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

Monday, March 06, 2017

Should President Tsai be More Flexible Toward China?

Calls for punishing Taiwan due to its unwillingness to recognize the ‘1992 consensus’ have gotten louder ahead of a CCP leadership reshuffle in the fall. That National Congress is exactly the reason why President Tsai should stick to her guns for the time being

A number of politicians and academics from the pan-blue camp have in recent months argued that President Tsai Ing-wen should show some flexibility toward China by acknowledging the so-called “1992 consensus,” a highly symbolic formulation that Beijing has insisted upon for the resumption of normal cross-Strait interactions. 

Following President Tsai’s inauguration on May 20 last year, Beijing ramped up its pressure on Taipei to recognize the “1992 consensus” — a construct that under President Tsai’s predecessor was seen as a conduit for interactions between the two sides — and acknowledge “one China.” In the absence of such recognition, Beijing has ostensibly refused to engage in official interactions with Taipei (though talks using other channels have not ceased altogether) and has implemented a series of “punitive” measures to undermine Taiwan’s economy. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Avoid the Vicious Circle

The greatest impediment to ‘peaceful’ unification in the Taiwan Strait is the consolidation of a distinct system of beliefs and values in Taiwan, irrespective of political affiliation. Pro-unification groups want to break that bond and thereby weaken Taiwan’s ability to resist

Every year around “2.28” — the day on which the massacre of thousands of Taiwanese by Kuomintang (KMT) forces in 1947 is commemorated — the raw emotions on both sides of the historical divide come to a boil, resulting in excess of rhetoric and the occasional incident. The more passionate voices on either end of the political spectrum have used this period of remembrance to highlight a longstanding animosity between the “green” and “blue” camps. 

Continues here.