Friday, August 17, 2018

China’s Dangerous ‘Bottom-Up’ Ultranationalism and the 85℃ Incident: a Warning

By allowing netizens to define its cross-Strait policy, Beijing risks losing control of the situation and could cause severe harm to an already tense relationship 

China’s punitive “strategy” on Taiwan once again escalated this week after the Taiwanese coffee chain 85℃ Bakery Cafe came under assault by Chinese ultranationalists over a visit to one of its stores in Los Angeles by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. 

The ire was sparked by President Tsai’s visit to the coffee shop, where staff, excited to be meeting the democratically elected head of state, gave her store paraphernalia as a gift (Chinese disinformation claimed the package was stuffed with money). 

After photos of the encounter were made public, Chinese ultranationalists kicked into action and accused the chain, which operates 859 stores in China and made 64% of its Q1 revenue there, of supporting Taiwan independence. Threats of a boycott (described by the South China Morning Post as a “zealous online campaign”) were sent to the company’s Weibo account, and its Taiwan website was was knocked offline by what is believe to have been a cyber attack. The next day, Long Mingbiao, deputy director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said China would “never allow” a company that (purportedly) supports Taiwanese independence to operate in China. 

Continues here.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Conflict in the Taiwan Strait Is No Mere ‘Family Struggle’—It’s Part of Something Much Greater

Whether we like it or not, Taiwan is in the frontline of an ongoing battle — and it is heating up — to determine the kind of world we and our children will live in for years to come 

In his latest article for the National Interest, Lyle J. Goldstein, a research professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) at the United States Naval War College, builds upon a theme he explored in his 2015 book Meeting China Halfway and counters his critic, Gordon Chang, with a series of arguments that simply do not stand the test of scrutiny. 

The gist of Goldstein’s argument is that the United States should not risk the lives of tens of thousands of its servicemen and women in the defense of Taiwan should the democratic island-nation of twenty-three million people come under military assault from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). One of the reasons why the United States should avoid doing so, he avers, is that conflict in the Taiwan Strait is little more than a “family quarrel,” unfinished business from the Chinese Civil War that led to the defeat of the Kuomintang (KMT), which at the time ruled over the Republic of China (ROC), at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which after evicting the KMT in 1949 established the PRC. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

WATCH: China's Military Just Released a New Video Showing Off Its Most Powerful Weapons

The video is brimful with the grandiosity that is now associated with the military under Xi Jinping: a lot of ammunition is fired, and the very latest in China’s military technology — combat aircraft, a carrier battle group, long-range ballistic missiles, submarines and armored vehicles — is on full, proud, active display 

On Aug. 1 a video titled “I am a Chinese Soldier” began circulating in China and quickly went viral on social media as the country marked Army Day. 

The slick, 2 min 20 second production emphasizes the personal sacrifices made by members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who leave their families behind to resolutely defend the nation and its claimed territory. 

Continues here. (Note that the carrier battle group shown in the video is actually...from the U.S. Navy!)

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

‘Peaceful Unification’ Is Dead and Buried

The Chinese Communist Party uses ‘peaceful’ as a cover, a smokescreen to isolate and sideline whomever opposes its objective of annexing Taiwan. It is in fact coercive, one-sided, certainly not magnanimous, and increasingly punitive in its response to the resistance this project has encountered 

Hardly a week goes by without Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a spokesperson at the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, or a political commentator at some institute somewhere in China emphasizing China’s desire for “peaceful unification” with Taiwan. The expression has a nice, soothing din to it — after all, who opposes peace, or the peaceful resolution of a decades-long conflict? Only radicals, extremists, or groups with unsavory ties to foreign imperialist powers could possibly seek to derail such lofty goals. 

There are two fundamental problems with that formulation. 

Continues here.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

China’s Bullying of Taiwan Highlights its Helplessness Against the Drift of Taiwanese Society

Beijing’s hopes for a gradual unification of Taiwan with China have been frustrated, not by Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP, but by Taiwanese society’s growing drift from China. Unable to admit this, China has resorted to heavy-handed tactics that is pushing the Taiwanese further away 

The election of Tsai Ing-wen of the Taiwan-centric Democratic Progressive Party in January 2016 marked the end of a phase in cross-strait relations when Beijing still believed in the possibility of winning the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese through “goodwill” and economic incentives. Since then, Beijing has embraced a strategy that seeks to corner, isolate and punish Taiwan for its intransigence on the unification question. 

Although many would ascribe that change in attitude to the 2016 elections and blame the Tsai administration’s refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus” for the souring relations, this reckoning actually occurred earlier – two years earlier, in 2014, when the Sunflower student movement derailed the partial rapprochement that had prevailed since 2008 under former president Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang. More than an incident over a particular trade agreement, the movement epitomised a society’s refusal to associate too closely with authoritarian China, a reality that not only contributed to Tsai’s victory but also to the KMT’s dismissal of its initial candidate for the presidency, who was regarded as too ideologically close to Beijing – even for the blue camp’s taste. 

Continues here.