Wednesday, February 28, 2018

228: Trauma, Memory and the Birth of a Nation

The 228 Massacre is sacred ground — a graveyard out of whose soil a nation emerged. And for many, it was an original sin for the Nationalists. How much should be remembered? Should anything be forgotten? 

Trauma is the furnace of nations, an incident or series of incidents spanning months, years and sometimes decades that creates a “before” and “after,” and which transforms primary matter into, as Thomas Aquinas would phrase it, a “substantial being.” For Taiwan, the series of nationwide massacres that was unleashed on Feb. 28, 1947, followed by four decades of authoritarian rule known as the “White Terror,” marks the period in the nation’s history when its otherness became not only fact, but a necessity, a matter of survival. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Xi Jinping’s Power Grab Creates Systemic Instability

Lifting the term limits for the Chinese president could increase the likelihood of a coup d’etat in China 

The China-watching punditry has been aflutter since the not entirely unexpected announcement on Sunday that China was dropping the term limits for president, a move that would conceivably open the door for President Xi Jinping — arguably the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong — to stay in office indefinitely. 

This development, which has already prompted parallels with Russia’s persistent autocrat Vladimir Putin, has led some to argue that that Emperor Xi, as some now dub him, would use the extra time accorded him by the constitutional change to further consolidate the power necessary to tackle endemic corruption and push economic reform. Others of a more pessimistic inclination see this as a power grab that will lead to greater repression inside China, which under Xi has already reached levels unprecedented in decades, and a higher likelihood that China will flex its muscles to grab territory in the East and South China Sea, as well as the top real-estate prize — Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lufthansa, British Airways Give in to Chinese Pressure, List Taiwan as Part of China

Two more carriers now list Taiwan as part of China on their web sites as Beijing threatens fines for ‘violations’ to advertisement and cyber regulations 

Chinese pressure on global companies has scored more successes in recent days, with Taiwanese netizens discovering in the past week that German carrier Lufthansa and British Airways are now listing Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” and “Taiwan (China)” respectively on their web sites. 

The changes, which have sparked anger among many Taiwanese, follows similar incidents involving various brands in recent months, including Qantas, Delta Airline, Zara, Marriott International and Medtronic. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Top Chinese Military Strategist Bemoans KMT’s Lack of Commitment to Unification

Members of the Kuomintang who visit China are ‘lying and eating and drinking’, a Chinese military strategist argues 

Speaking in a recent interview, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Major General Zhu Chenghu reserved harsh words for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the party in Taiwan that, according to the narrative, is supposed to be Beijing’s “natural ally” in promoting the unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. 

“Today’s KMT is no longer the KMT of yesterday,” Zhu, a military strategist and former dean of China’s National Defense University, told reporters, adding that party members who visit China and ostensibly support unification are all, in reality, doing little more than “lying and eating and drinking.” 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Congress Is Right to Stand Up for Taiwan

A bill that would allow exchanges between senior US and Taiwanese officials is making its way in Congress, sparking some push-back by China and some critics in academia 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed the Taiwan Travel Act on February 7, 2018, a bill that would permit exchanges and visits by senior Taiwanese and American government officials. Seen by Beijing as a ploy to undermine “one China,” the bill has also attracted criticism by some American academics, who regard the move as “unnecessary” and “provocative.” 

Bill H.R.535, which the House of Representatives passed on January 9, will now be sent to the floor of the U.S. Senate. If it becomes law, it would “allow officials at all levels of the United States government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts,” and mark a milestone in relations since the United States shifted official diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China in 1979. 

Continues here.

Friday, February 09, 2018

China Unleashes ‘Rough Power’ as Taiwan Deals with Deadly Quake

Internet ultranationalism and political calculation are poisoning whatever ‘goodwill’ China has shown for Taiwan as it handles the aftermath of a powerful earthquake in Hualien. And this is not the first time the Chinese have engaged in such self-defeating behavior 

It has been trendy in recent months to coin new terms to describe the means by which states wield power to further their interests abroad. As most have been variations on Joseph Nye’s “soft power,” allow me to continue the tradition by coining one of my own to describe one type of power that China has unleashed upon Taiwan following the deadly earthquake that struck Hualien earlier this week: “rough power.” 

The antithesis of “soft power,” rough power uses the state apparatus and the many communication instruments that allow a people to make their presence felt abroad. While “soft power” is meant to win hearts and minds, “rough power” achieves the opposite by alienating the targeted population. 

Continues here.