Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Conflict in the Taiwan Strait: What it Is, and What it Isn’t

International media need to find a better term than ‘rivals’ to describe a situation in which a small democracy is fighting for its survival against the encroachment of a gigantic authoritarian state 

It doesn’t just regularly pop up in “click-bait” headlines, but rears its ugly head in the body of articles as well. Keen on providing a narrative that is understandable to a global audience, international media have often used the term “rivals” — sometimes “bitter rivals” — to describe Taiwan and China (examples here and here and here). Unfortunately, this oversimplification fails to accurately describe the true nature of the conflict in the Taiwan Strait. In fact, it is utterly misleading. 

The descriptor “rivals” would have held true decades ago, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China (ROC), which transplanted itself into Taiwan following the Nationalists’ defeat in the Chinese civil war, still aimed to “retake the mainland” from Mao Zedong’s communists, by force if necessary. During that period, both sides, by then ideological rivals in the Cold War, vied for recognition by the international community as the “real” China (“free China” versus “Red China”), and the two governments were locked into a zero-sum game out of which a single victor could emerge. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Globalizing Taiwan’s Defense Industry

Opportunities exist for much greater cooperation between Taiwanese defense firms and partners around the world. But before this can happen, the Taiwanese government must address a number of issues 

Uncertainty over the willingness of foreign countries to sell weapons to Taiwan, primarily due to pressure by Beijing on the governments and firms involved, concerns over the espionage risks associated with the transfer of high-tech equipment to a partner that is a direct target of Chinese intelligence collection, and the high costs associated with the procurement of high-value foreign defense articles, have compelled Taiwanese authorities in recent years to increasingly look for a domestic solution to meet the nation’s defense requirements. 

As Taipei endeavors to strike a balance between foreign procurement — still indispensable in various areas, not to mention the political symbolism that is inherently associated with the practice — and indigenous development, new opportunities to plug Taiwan’s defense industry into the global supply chain may be arising which could be both beneficial to Taiwan’s self-defense and to its economy. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Beijing Ramps Up Pressure on Foreign Airlines, Firms to Respect China’s ‘Territorial Integrity’

After Delta Air Lines and Qantas, several airlines are coming under pressure by Beijing to remove references to Taiwan as a sovereign entity from their web sites as ultra-nationalism enters a new phase in China 

Several airlines may be be coming under pressure from Chinese authorities to “correct” their web sites and APPs by removing references to Taiwan as a country after U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines was ordered to do so last week and Australian carrier Qantas yielded to the pressure earlier this week. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last week ordered all foreign airlines operating flights to China to conduct a full review of their client information content such as their official websites or APPs to ensure they do not breach Chinese laws. The CAAC has reportedly summoned the representatives of 25 foreign airlines operating in China and demanded their companies remove all references to Taiwan as a country, as well as its national flag, from their web sites immediately. 

Continues here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump’s National Security Strategy and Taiwan’s Changing Security Environment

Despite some positive language in the new National Security Strategy, allies like Taiwan that rely on continued U.S. support cannot afford to sit still and must prepare for various contingencies 

Focusing on confronting undemocratic forces and promoting a balance of power that favors the U.S. and its partners, President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) released on Dec. 18 struck a positive note with many security analysts in Asia who were looking for signs of continued engagement. While only one direct reference is made to Taiwan in the entire document, any signalling that the U.S. intends to maintain, or perhaps increase, its presence in the Indo-Pacific is seen as a positive development for Taipei, whose ability to counter pressure from Beijing is largely contingent on the security umbrella the U.S. has been providing since the end of World War II. 

Continues here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Analysis: China’s New Air Routes Near Taiwan: Why Now? To What End?

Beijing has reneged on an agreement reached with Taipei in 2015, in part to destabilize the Tsai Ing-wen administration and to show who is boss in the region. Given the air safety risks caused by such unilateral moves, the international community cannot afford to remain silent 

The unilateral activation by China earlier this month of four air routes close to the median line in the Taiwan Strait has sparked protests by Taipei and led analysts to conclude that Beijing is ramping up the pressure on the Tsai Ing-wen administration following the conclusion of the 19th CCP Party Congress. 

Four routes — a northbound path for the M503 line and three east-west extension routes (W121, W122 and W123) — were launched without prior consultation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). At its nearest point, M503 is 7.8 km from the median line on the Taiwan Strait and close to the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR). It is also close to a training area for the Taiwanese Air Force. W122 and W123 are close to the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Taiwan Strait in 2018 – Still a Dangerous Flashpoint

While the world’s attention is fixated on North Korea, it would be imprudent to ignore the other dangerous flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific – the Taiwan Strait 

Intensifying activity by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a deepening crisis pitting democratic Taiwan against authoritarian China have ensured that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific. 

At the heart of the conflict is Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, an island-nation of 23.5 million people that, due to history and its geographical proximity to China, has always been caught in the gravitational pull of its gigantic neighbour. For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan is “unfinished business,” a relic not only of the Cold War, when Nationalist-run Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) fell under the US security umbrella in the midst of the Korean War, but also a reminder of China’s humiliation following its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War. That war concluded in 1895 with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, resulting in Taiwan being ceded to Japan until the Japanese Empire was defeated in World War II. 

My article for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute continues here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

How can democracies counter China’s growing clout

Canada must adjust its policies of engagement with China by building upon the knowledge that is accumulating globally 

China is on a mission to provide an alternative to the liberal-democratic order that has underpinned international relations since the end of the Second World War, an order in which Canada is a proud participant. 

Amid uncertainty over the future of the North American free-trade agreement and U.S. global leadership, it is only natural that Ottawa would seek to deepen its relationship with China, the world's second-largest economy and an increasingly important player in international affairs. But as recent cases in Australia and New Zealand have made clear, it is time Canada started paying closer attention to the potential costs to our democracy of engaging authoritarian China, a country that is led by the most successful communist party in history. 

My article, published today in the Globe and Mail, continues here.