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.

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