Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Disinformation Targets Legitimacy of Taiwan’s Passport

A rumor claiming that Taiwanese can no longer use their passport to board international flights and that the E.U. had revised its visa-free entry policy for Taiwanese nationals has forced the Taiwanese government to respond. Expect more such incidents as China ramps up its disinformation campaign 

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday was forced to step in and deny an Internet rumor that from July 25 international airlines no longer recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) passport and that Taiwanese nationals no longer enjoyed visa-free entry into the U.K. and the E.U. 

The rumors, which spread on various online platforms including the popular Line application, stemmed from a message alleging that a Taiwanese national had been unable to board an Air Canada flight because the airline no longer recognized the ROC passport “due to pressure from China” and the fact that “Taiwan is not recognized as a country.” Only after presenting his Taiwan ID card was the man allowed to board the plane, the message claimed. “Two people with Taiwanese passports have already been denied boarding, so please remember to bring your [Taiwan] ID card,” it said. 

Continues here.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Unity Is Key to Countering China’s ‘Sharp Power’

China is in conflict with a world order and a system of rules and beliefs that it now regards as an impediment to its ambitions. As its influence activities corrode the democratic firewall that unites and protects us, we must respond with our own united front 

As the world begins to understand the scope and ramifications of China’s “sharp power,” it has become evident that in the 21st century, Taiwan will be an indispensable partner to the international community as it strives to counter efforts by revisionist forces and defend the democratic values that we cherish. More than ever, it is clear that China’s unending — and intensifying — assault on Taiwan is an assault on the entire liberal democratic order that has underpinned our societies since the end of World War II. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

China’s Great Squeeze Strategy Against Tsai Ing-wen

Beijing seeks to isolate Taiwan and condition its people and the international community to accept a ‘new normal.’ It also seeks to widen differences not only between the ‘blue’ and ‘green’ camps in Taiwan politics, but also between the ‘mainstream’ and ‘radical’ greens and thus spark a dangerous vicious circle 

Beijing has precious few partners left back in Taiwan to help it engineer the “peaceful” unification that is at the core of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “great rejuvenation” ambitions. In fact, trends over the years and Beijing’s inability to come up with a formula that can have a modicum of appeal among the Taiwanese have put the lie to the notion that unification can occur without a largely coercive component. 

Forget the Taiwan Affairs Office’s “31 incentives” unveiled earlier this year, or the trickle of delegations by marginal members of the “blue” and “red” camps to Beijing, or the United Front forums organized here and there to cultivate a pro-Beijing youth among the Taiwanese. None of those measures will succeed in generating enough momentum to shift overall perceptions of China in Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

It's Time to Stop China's Seaward Expansion

Through our inattention, we have lost control of the South China Sea, which Beijing now occupies and has militarized. It is now time to push back, and the best place to do so is in the East China Sea 

There was a time, when President Barack Obama was still in the White House, when the U.S.-led coalition in the Asia-Pacific could have responded to, and perhaps countered, the creeping occupation and militarization of the South China Sea. According to many security experts, the window for such action has now closed, and Beijing has successfully created irreversible facts on the ground. If that is indeed the case, then freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) and other measures are too little, too late. China has engineered a new status quo in the South China Sea, and efforts to counter its larger ambitions should henceforth focus elsewhere. 

What is perhaps most surprising about what has occurred in the South China Sea in the past decade isn’t so much that China has succeeded in building a series of artificial islands and militarizing what it regards as its “lake,” but rather that the international community would be caught unawares by the current state of affairs. From the outset, Beijing telegraphed its intentions in the South China Sea, and if it has become a no-go zone for others in the region, and for the United States, it is largely the result of our inattention and our failure to read the tea leaves. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Threatened Ban on Hong Kong National Party Signals Beijing’s Weakness

One hell of a contrast: As Beijing renders illegal small political parties in the Hong Kong experiment with autonomy, Taiwan has moved in the opposite direction, even allowing the existence of political parties that openly advocate for unification 

Hong Kong authorities this week signaled that the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) could be banned under the Societies Ordinance. 

If HKNP is banned, it would be illegal to be a member of the party, to raise funds for it or to act on its behalf. Violators could face up to three years imprisonment and a HK$12,000 fine. Party leaders have been given three weeks to make the case as to why HKNP should not be slapped a prohibition order, which would ostensibly be issued “in the interest of national security.” 

Continues here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Xi-Lien Meeting: Same Old Platitudes, With Two Possible Gems

Given how little the two men gave us to run with, all we’re left with is what wasn’t said, or things half-said, which may give us a glimpse of the unconscious elements that fuel the narrative. If we’re lucky, those may yield opportunities for conflict resolution 

Anyone who expected substance from last Friday’s meeting in Beijing between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and former Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Lien Chan was probably asking for the impossible. As expected, the two men mostly regurgitated the same old platitudes about “one China” and the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 

The fact that Xi can only meet someone like Lien, whose relevance in Taiwanese affairs has markedly dimmed over the years, speaks volumes about Beijing’s inability to entertain contact with people who can actually influence the shape and direction of Taiwanese politics. In fact, Xi has largely limited himself to meetings with people, like the 81-year-old Lien, the unelectable Hung Hsiu-chu (dumped by her own party ahead of the 2016 elections), and Yok Mu-ming, chairman of the marginal pro-unification New Party, who are unlikely to challenge him and whose views, I must add, are completely out of sync with the large majority of Taiwanese — in both the “green” and “blue” camps.  

Continues here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taiwan in Dead Center of China’s Greater Territorial Ambitions

Beijing is determined to rewrite the rules in the Asia-Pacific region. No matter who occupies the Presidential Office in Taipei, that will be a problem for them 

China on Monday accused the United States of “playing psychological games” and “harming peace and stability” after two U.S. Navy warships transited the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, the first such passage since July 2017. 

The Japan-based USS Mustin and USS Benfold Arleigh Burke-class destroyers made the transit in international waters late on Saturday evening as part of routine freedom of navigation passages. U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown said that “U.S. Navy ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait and have done so for many years.” 

Continues here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Neutrality for Taiwan: A Dangerous Proposal

Former vice president Annette Lu and her supporters have floated the idea of a ‘neutral’ Taiwan that is ‘devoted to peace.’ Not only is that proposal based on a naive view of China, it could take Taiwan down the road to ruin 

Sometime in 2014, former vice president Annette Lu and other luminaries launched her Peace and Neutrality for Taiwan Alliance, an initiative that seeks to secure genuine political neutrality for Taiwan as the region becomes a battleground for U.S. and Chinese influence. 

Under Lu’s proposal, which would come in the form of a referendum, Taiwan would “give up confrontation with China, and … proclaim to the world that we want peace and neutrality. “We will forge friendship with every country that is friendly to us, including China,” she told a press conference last year. 

Continues here.