Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan Travel Act: Use it Wisely

Recently signed into law by President Trump, the Taiwan Travel Act opens the door for high-level exchanges between Taiwanese and American officials. Substance, not symbolism, should be the key factor deciding who meets whom, where and when 

Since U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month signed the Taiwan Travel Act, a piece of legislation that encourages high-level exchanges between American and Taiwanese officials, reactions in some pro-Taiwan circles have been marked by elation, even leading some to suggest that President Trump himself should break with precedent and visit the island-nation for the opening of the U.S.’ brand new de facto embassy later this year. 

The reception to the Act, a bill 12 years in the making which received bipartisan support in U.S. Congress, is understandable, given that Washington’s longstanding — albeit unwritten — policy of barring senior officials from Taiwan, a democratic ally and key economic partner in Asia, from engaging with their American counterparts was both illogical and undignified. Nothing in the U.S.’ “one China” policy or in the Communiqués prevented such high-level exchanges; the tacit rule was instead an olive branch to Beijing, which over the years succeeded in pressuring U.S. government into avoiding official contact with senior government officials from Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Taiwanese Novelist Wu Ming-yi To Lodge Protest With Man Booker Prize Over ‘Taiwan, China’ Designation

Man Group, the hedge fund manager which sponsors the literary prize, launched a quantitative hedge fund in China last year catering to wealthy Chinese investors 

Well-known Taiwanese author Wu Ming-yi, whose novel The Stolen Bicycle was long-listed for the prestigious 2018 Man Booker International Prize, revealed on his Facebook page this morning that the organizers of the literary prize had changed his country of origin from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China,” a move that he said did not reflect his personal position. 

Wu is one of 13 authors nominated for the prize, the leading literary award in the English-speaking world. According to the official web site, the Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005, biannually rewarding an author for a body of work originally written in any language as long as it was widely available in English. The Stolen Bicycle was first published in Chinese in 2015 and was translated into English by the Taipei-based Darryl Sterk. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Xi Issues Stern Warning to Taiwan, Vows to Defend ‘Every Inch’ of Chinese Territory

An emboldened President Xi had some strong words for Taiwan after President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law last week 

Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday warned that Taiwan would be “punished by history” if it attempted to formally separate from China. Speaking at the concluding day of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Xi told the three-thousand-odd delegates that “all acts and tricks to split the motherland [China] are doomed to failure and will be condemned by the people and punished by history.” 

“The Chinese people share a common belief that it is never allowed and it is absolutely impossible to separate any inch of our great country’s territory from China,” he said, vowing to protect “every inch” of Chinese territory. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The CCP is Our Adversary, Not the Chinese People

As the CCP increasingly tries to narrow the space between party and state, and as President Xi erases the line between himself and the party, it will be more important than ever for critics to draw a distinction between the Party and the Chinese people 

Academics and journalists in the past year have begun to uncover activities by China that seek to undermine democratic institutions worldwide. As various aspects of Beijing’s United Front activities abroad are made public, and as governments begin to take the threat more seriously, the Chinese government’s response — and that of many Chinese — has been to depict those investigative efforts as racist, xenophobic and ultimately “anti China.” 

The accusations of racism and xenophobia, of a supposed anti-China sentiment, however, are for the most part unfounded. Through studious accounts of the agencies and organizations involved, the authors of the reports, documentaries and articles that have drawn attention to China’s intense influence operations have drawn a clear distinction between the agents of influence and ordinary Chinese, both in China and as part of the Chinese diaspora. In several cases, the authors are married to a Chinese partner and developed a deep affinity for the Chinese people through years of academic research or journalism in the country. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Great Chinese Lure: A Matter of National Security for Taiwan

A far greater threat to Taiwan than the PLA or pro-unification forces is the potential hollowing-out of Taiwan’s brain trust as China’s economy becomes increasingly attractive to skilled Taiwanese. Taipei has been far too complacent in tackling this challenge and must reverse course before it’s too late 

The unveiling by the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in late February of 31 measures to lure Taiwanese to work in China has renewed fears in Taiwan of a potentially devastating “brain drain” as young, educated and driven Taiwanese look across the Taiwan Strait for career opportunities. 

Beijing’s new strategy, which involves 12 incentives related to business and 19 to social and employment issues, is the latest in a long list of efforts over the years to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese while increasing the economic interdependence between the two sides. Like similar efforts before it, the strategy relies on a deterministic view of the world, whereby material benefits are seen as a means to shape non tangibles such as political and ideological beliefs, as well as self-identification. The ultimate aim, which Beijing has made no secret of, is to break support for Taiwanese independence or the “status quo” and to engineer desire for unification under “one China.”  

Continues here.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Who’s to Blame for the ‘1992 Consensus’ Impasse?

Beijing’s intransigence, and not Taipei’s refusal to fall into a trap, is the source of instability in bilateral relations 

It has become a common refrain since sometime in 2016 that relations between Taiwan and China have deteriorated due to the Tsai Ing-wen administration’s refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus.” However, that formulation not only stems from a cognitive bias that is unfair to Taiwan, it also suffers from amnesia and ignores Beijing’s stated long-term aims. 

According to this unquestioned rule, President Tsai’s refusal to abide by or recognize the “1992 consensus” is the reason why tensions have risen in the Taiwan Strait since her election in January 2016, why Beijing has “license” to punish Taiwan, and why the two sides — at least reports claim — no longer use official high-level channels to communicate with each other. Leaving alone the fact that the “consensus” was, by his own admission, invented by the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Su Chi in 2000, this formulation also imposes a baseline, a natural state from which departure bad things have necessarily happened in the Taiwan Strait. 

Continues here.