Sunday, April 30, 2017

Why China May Play Tough in the Lead-Up to Its 19th Party Conference

The CCP party congress later this year will activate survival instincts of Communist officials in order to secure their power. Taiwan and the South and East China Sea could be areas that officials needing a quick success or distraction might turn to

Facing intense pressure on several fronts in the lead-up to the 19th Party Congress in the fall, Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping will likely be compelled to bolster his credentials with the more radical elements—and thereby placate his enemies—within his party. Expect, therefore, an eventful second half of 2017. 

At the heart of the coming drama are succession and elite politics within the CCP and their interplay with a series of unprecedented structural challenges facing China on both the domestic and global fronts. Not since the 14th Party Congress in 1992 has the quinquennial CCP reshuffle, in which the future Politburo Standing Committee will be selected and, presumably, the identities of the party members who will replace Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in 2022 will be revealed, been of such import. 

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

It Wasn’t Ever Going to be Easy

Four foreign diplomats on Thursday shared their countries’ experiences with legalization of same-sex marriage with a Taiwanese audience. There’s a lot to be learned from those precedents, and a few things that President Tsai herself should pay heed to 

The election of Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and her party’s securing a majority of seats in the January 2016 elections created much optimism within the LGBTQ community about the prospects of soon achieving marriage equality in Taiwan. Much of that enthusiasm stemmed from the fact that marriage equality was a major item in the DPP’s slick election campaign, so much so that after her election, several international media were headlining Taiwan as the first country in Asia likely to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Since President Tsai entered office on May 20 last year, some progress has been made on the issue, but the pace has been much slower than expected. After undergoing some modifications, a bill has made its way up the legislative process, and the case has also been brought before the Council of Grand Justices, which will render its verdict on on May 24. 

Continues here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

President Tsai Dodges Another Cross-Strait Bullet

A Chinese activist’s attempt to defect to Taiwan earlier this week could have shaken the careful balancing act that has prevailed across the Taiwan Strait since May 20 last year

The decision by the Taiwanese government earlier this week to deny political asylum to a Chinese dissident who had left his tour group at the weekend may have saved the Tsai Ing-wen administration serious headaches amid a controversy surrounding the detention of a Taiwanese rights activist in China. 

At first glance, Zhang Xiangzhong’s attempt to obtain asylum in Taiwan looked like a straight-up case of a Chinese dissident seeking freedom from authoritarian rule in China. The 48-year-old civil rights activist from Shandong Province claims he had served three years in jail after taking part in the New Citizens Movement (he was arrested in July 2013). Upon his release in July 2016, Zhang says he was under constant surveillance by the Chinese security apparatus. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TFD Hosts 2017 Community of Democracies Youth Forum

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies today opened the 2017 CoD Youth Forum at TFD headquarters in Taipei, bringing together young human rights activists and academics from around the world to discuss the many challenges facing democracy 

Titled “Strengthening Youth Participation in Democracies Worldwide,” the three-day workshop is one of the first CoD events to focus specifically on youth and their role in democracy. 

Nearly 40 speakers and participants, from countries as varied as Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan, Mongolia, Mexico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Gambia, Morocco, Pakistan, the U.K. and the U.S., are taking part in this year’s workshop. Among the participants from Taiwan are Lin Fei-fan, Wei Yang, Poyu Tseng and Jennifer Lu. 

Among the topics discussed at the panels are “Security and Democracy: Extremism, Cultural Bigotry and the threats to Democracy,” “Unbalanced Globalization: Impact on Democracy,” “Effective Youth Participation – The balance between social movements and political participation,” “Global Youth Solidarity for Democracy,” and “Establishment of a Youth Pillar.” 

Continues here.

Trends in Physical Violence and Assaults on the Press

Physical violence and denial of access to members of the press are two tactics that have been used with alarming frequency in recent months by civic groups bent on blocking legislation proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party 

Same-sex marriage and pension reform are two pieces of legislation that have resulted in escalatory action since late 2016 by civic organizations that are primarily associated with the pan-blue camp. In the former case, conservative Christian organizations have spearheaded efforts to block a marriage equality bill; in the latter, retired personnel, as well as deep-blue organizations such as the Blue Sky Alliance, have led the movement. While marginal, the Alliance has a track record of disruptive behavior and physical violence against officials. 

Continues here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry Proposes High-Tech Weapon Deployments on Taiping Island

As tensions rise in the South China Sea, Taiwan could deploy new high-tech weapons on an island it controls

Due to a changing security environment in the South China Sea, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has reportedly made 17 specific proposals to bolster Taiwan’s defensive capabilities on Taiping Island, one of the largest islets in the disputed area. Among the new weapons recommended for deployment are small and medium unmanned aerial vehicles as well as the new indigenously developed Coastal Defense Rocket System (CDRS) and the automated short-range XTR-102.

Continues here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

US-China Relations after Mar-a-Lago

Not much substance, but the two leaders agreed to a new framework for dialogue 

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, held their first face-to-face meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6-7. Despite being upstaged by U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian airbase suspected of involvement in chemical attacks on civilians earlier in the week, the highly anticipated summit seems to have achieved most of what the two leaders were looking for. The only thing to come out of the two-day summit was a commitment by the two sides to talk some more. Furthermore, the two sides agreed to implement a US-China Comprehensive Dialogue, to be overseen by the two presidents, which will consist of four pillars: diplomatic and security; economic; law enforcement and cyber security; and social and cultural issues. 

My analysis of the Xi-Trump summit, published today by the Prospect Foundation, continues here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Is President Tsai’s Handling of the Lee Ming-che Case Adequate?

We shouldn’t expect the Tsai government to burst out guns blazing on the Lee case, as to do so would only spring the traps set by elements in China who are uncomfortable with the current equilibrium in the Taiwan Strait

The case of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese human rights and democracy advocate who has been missing in China since March 19, took another turn yesterday after Chinese authorities revoked the travel permit of Lee’s spouse, Lee Ching-yu, before she could board a plane to China to see her husband. 

Lee Ming-che was nabbed on March 19 after attempting to enter Zhuhai, in Guangdong Province, via Macau. The State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) has since said that Lee was detained for “endangering national security.” Chinese authorities have yet to provide any details as to which laws he may have broken, though it is suspected that his arrest may have occurred under the recently passed Foreign NGO Management Law, which severely constrains the ability of foreign NGOs to operate in China. 

Continues here.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Creative Ideas for Conflict Resolution in the Taiwan Strait Must be Based on Facts: A Response to Liu Yawei

If a just solution is ever to be found to the hugely complex dispute in the Taiwan Strait, its foundations will have to rest on the facts, not on illusion or the wishes of CCP decision makers 

In an article published in the Diplomat on 4 April, Dr. Liu Yawei, director of the China Program at the Carter Center and founding editor of the U.S.-China Perception Monitor, proposes five areas in which U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, could cooperate after their groundbreaking meeting in Florida later this week. 

While there is much to agree on his first four “doables,” which among other things call for Beijing and Washington to work together in resolving a variety of global challenges, from trade to territorial dispute, his last point, which is specifically on the Taiwan “issue,” presents a picture of the trilateral relationship that unfortunately has much more in common with the Chinese Communist Party’s wishes than with reality, a fact which weakens the potency of Dr. Liu’s “doable” as a means to shed light on, if not resolve, the longstanding dispute. 

My article, published today in CPI Analysis, continues here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Can President Xi Score Points on Taiwan at Mar-a-Lago?

The leaders of the world’s two most powerful countries will meet in Florida on April 6-7. Among the many issues they will discuss, Taiwan’s status and longstanding American commitments to it are expected to be raised. We look at what President Xi is likely to ask for, and whether he can hope to obtain any concessions from the American president

As U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, prepare to meet at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday and Friday this week, many have wondered whether Mr. Xi will press the issue of Taiwan and, if he does so, whether he can obtain anything from Mr. Trump. 

What is almost certain is that Mr. Xi will raise the matter, if only to assess where Mr. Trump stands on the status of the democratic island-nation. At minimum, Mr. Xi hopes to leave Florida with assurances that Mr. Trump is no longer questioning the wisdom, if we can call it that, of the “one China” policy, a longstanding U.S. policy that, as president-elect, Mr. Trump said it might no longer be advisable to follow. Coming on the heels of a precedent-setting 10-minute telephone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in early December 2016, Beijing certainly had reason to believe that the political maverick could indeed upend the very foundations of the trilateral relationship that had existed since Washington established official diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979. 

Continues here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Lee Ming-che disappearance in China causes fears among Taiwan NGOs

Whether they are the result of new regulations in China governing foreign NGOs, the application of vague national security measures, or factional politics in the lead-up to an important CCP congress later this year, two incidents in late March suggest that it may be getting increasingly dangerous for NGO workers and activists to visit China 

The disappearance and detention of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese rights activist and staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, by Chinese authorities last month could have a chilling effect on the willingness of Taiwan-based human rights workers and NGOs to put their personal safety at risk by operating in China. 

Continues here.