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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Conflict in the Taiwan Strait: What it Is, and What it Isn’t

International media need to find a better term than ‘rivals’ to describe a situation in which a small democracy is fighting for its survival against the encroachment of a gigantic authoritarian state 

It doesn’t just regularly pop up in “click-bait” headlines, but rears its ugly head in the body of articles as well. Keen on providing a narrative that is understandable to a global audience, international media have often used the term “rivals” — sometimes “bitter rivals” — to describe Taiwan and China (examples here and here and here). Unfortunately, this oversimplification fails to accurately describe the true nature of the conflict in the Taiwan Strait. In fact, it is utterly misleading. 

The descriptor “rivals” would have held true decades ago, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China (ROC), which transplanted itself into Taiwan following the Nationalists’ defeat in the Chinese civil war, still aimed to “retake the mainland” from Mao Zedong’s communists, by force if necessary. During that period, both sides, by then ideological rivals in the Cold War, vied for recognition by the international community as the “real” China (“free China” versus “Red China”), and the two governments were locked into a zero-sum game out of which a single victor could emerge. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Globalizing Taiwan’s Defense Industry

Opportunities exist for much greater cooperation between Taiwanese defense firms and partners around the world. But before this can happen, the Taiwanese government must address a number of issues 

Uncertainty over the willingness of foreign countries to sell weapons to Taiwan, primarily due to pressure by Beijing on the governments and firms involved, concerns over the espionage risks associated with the transfer of high-tech equipment to a partner that is a direct target of Chinese intelligence collection, and the high costs associated with the procurement of high-value foreign defense articles, have compelled Taiwanese authorities in recent years to increasingly look for a domestic solution to meet the nation’s defense requirements. 

As Taipei endeavors to strike a balance between foreign procurement — still indispensable in various areas, not to mention the political symbolism that is inherently associated with the practice — and indigenous development, new opportunities to plug Taiwan’s defense industry into the global supply chain may be arising which could be both beneficial to Taiwan’s self-defense and to its economy. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Beijing Ramps Up Pressure on Foreign Airlines, Firms to Respect China’s ‘Territorial Integrity’

After Delta Air Lines and Qantas, several airlines are coming under pressure by Beijing to remove references to Taiwan as a sovereign entity from their web sites as ultra-nationalism enters a new phase in China 

Several airlines may be be coming under pressure from Chinese authorities to “correct” their web sites and APPs by removing references to Taiwan as a country after U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines was ordered to do so last week and Australian carrier Qantas yielded to the pressure earlier this week. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last week ordered all foreign airlines operating flights to China to conduct a full review of their client information content such as their official websites or APPs to ensure they do not breach Chinese laws. The CAAC has reportedly summoned the representatives of 25 foreign airlines operating in China and demanded their companies remove all references to Taiwan as a country, as well as its national flag, from their web sites immediately. 

Continues here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump’s National Security Strategy and Taiwan’s Changing Security Environment

Despite some positive language in the new National Security Strategy, allies like Taiwan that rely on continued U.S. support cannot afford to sit still and must prepare for various contingencies 

Focusing on confronting undemocratic forces and promoting a balance of power that favors the U.S. and its partners, President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) released on Dec. 18 struck a positive note with many security analysts in Asia who were looking for signs of continued engagement. While only one direct reference is made to Taiwan in the entire document, any signalling that the U.S. intends to maintain, or perhaps increase, its presence in the Indo-Pacific is seen as a positive development for Taipei, whose ability to counter pressure from Beijing is largely contingent on the security umbrella the U.S. has been providing since the end of World War II. 

Continues here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Analysis: China’s New Air Routes Near Taiwan: Why Now? To What End?

Beijing has reneged on an agreement reached with Taipei in 2015, in part to destabilize the Tsai Ing-wen administration and to show who is boss in the region. Given the air safety risks caused by such unilateral moves, the international community cannot afford to remain silent 

The unilateral activation by China earlier this month of four air routes close to the median line in the Taiwan Strait has sparked protests by Taipei and led analysts to conclude that Beijing is ramping up the pressure on the Tsai Ing-wen administration following the conclusion of the 19th CCP Party Congress. 

Four routes — a northbound path for the M503 line and three east-west extension routes (W121, W122 and W123) — were launched without prior consultation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). At its nearest point, M503 is 7.8 km from the median line on the Taiwan Strait and close to the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR). It is also close to a training area for the Taiwanese Air Force. W122 and W123 are close to the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Taiwan Strait in 2018 – Still a Dangerous Flashpoint

While the world’s attention is fixated on North Korea, it would be imprudent to ignore the other dangerous flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific – the Taiwan Strait 

Intensifying activity by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a deepening crisis pitting democratic Taiwan against authoritarian China have ensured that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific. 

At the heart of the conflict is Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, an island-nation of 23.5 million people that, due to history and its geographical proximity to China, has always been caught in the gravitational pull of its gigantic neighbour. For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan is “unfinished business,” a relic not only of the Cold War, when Nationalist-run Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) fell under the US security umbrella in the midst of the Korean War, but also a reminder of China’s humiliation following its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War. That war concluded in 1895 with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, resulting in Taiwan being ceded to Japan until the Japanese Empire was defeated in World War II. 

My article for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute continues here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

How can democracies counter China’s growing clout

Canada must adjust its policies of engagement with China by building upon the knowledge that is accumulating globally 

China is on a mission to provide an alternative to the liberal-democratic order that has underpinned international relations since the end of the Second World War, an order in which Canada is a proud participant. 

Amid uncertainty over the future of the North American free-trade agreement and U.S. global leadership, it is only natural that Ottawa would seek to deepen its relationship with China, the world's second-largest economy and an increasingly important player in international affairs. But as recent cases in Australia and New Zealand have made clear, it is time Canada started paying closer attention to the potential costs to our democracy of engaging authoritarian China, a country that is led by the most successful communist party in history. 

My article, published today in the Globe and Mail, continues here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A U.S. Attack on North Korea: Could China Retaliate Against Taiwan?

Chinese retaliation against Taiwan amid a U.S. military move on North Korea would be an occasion for Beijing to redress two historical wounds inflicted by Washington in 1950 and again in 1995–6 

As it has in much of 2017, the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is likely to haunt Northeast Asia for a good part of 2018. Beyond the immediate issue of Pyongyang’s weapons development is the interlocking nature of the conflict, which under certain circumstances—such as a decision by the United States to use force against North Korea—could spark other contingencies in the Asia Pacific. 

The pivotal actor in all this is China, Pyongyang’s sole benefactor and a rising power in its own right, whose reaction to a U.S.-led war in the Korean Peninsula could determine the future of the entire region. This article does not aim to evaluate the merits, moral or strategic, of taking military action against North Korea to break the logjam. Instead, with the prospects of war seemingly becoming likelier, it looks at the potential repercussions of the Trump administration choosing the military option to resolve the impasse by presenting the problem as the continuation of a conflict, regional in nature, that began when the United States intervened in the Korean War in 1950. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Party Officials Held for Questioning as China-Linked Spy Probe Widens

A handful of individuals from the pro-unification New Party were taken in for questioning in a case that seems to be linked to a spy ring organized by Zhou Hongxu, a Chinese man who was arrested earlier this year 

Investigators today raided the residence of Wang Ping-chung, convener of the pro-unification New Party’s Youth Committee, on suspicions that he may have engaged in activities that compromised national security. 

Armed with a warrant, Taipei investigators seized financial documents and took Wang in for questioning. According to reports, the raid is related to Wang’s possible connections with Zhou Hongxu, a former Chinese student who was detained in March this year on suspicions of recruiting people for a spy ring while enrolled at a university in Taiwan. The Taipei District Court in September sentenced Zhou, who reportedly received his directives from Shanghai, to 14 months in prison for violating the National Security Act. 

Continues here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Taiwan’s Democracy Dodges a Bullet

The attempt to unseat Huang Kuo-chang of the New Power Party highlights troubling flaws with Taiwan’s recall laws, which could become a source of instability in the nation’s democratic processes 

A conservative coalition on Saturday failed in its bid to recall New Power Party Chairman Huang Kuo-chang due to his support for marriage equality. 

Initiated by the Greater Taipei Stability Power Alliance, Saturday’s recall attempt in New Taipei City’s 12th electoral district masqueraded as a move to unseat the charismatic Huang for various reasons, among them that he is “arrogant,” a “populist” who doesn’t listen to the people, and that he spends “too much time at the legislature.” Despite their repeated denials, it is an open secret that the Alliance has cooperated closely with conservative Christian Churches in Taiwan and that their principal objective is to unseat legislators who support same-sex marriage. 

Continues here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beijing’s Orwellian View of Taiwan is Getting Dangerous

The often risible comments by Chinese officials about Taiwan are certainly entertaining, but they signal a dangerous malaise within the CCP, one that should not be laughed at 

The rhetoric used by Chinese officials about Taiwan in recent years has attained such levels of stridency that it has become easy to dismiss it as little more than necessary platitudes, humorous outbursts that briefly make international headlines before life returns to its normal course. 

Whether it is a warning over Taiwan collaborating with foreign powers to defend itself or Beijing’s view of the Taiwan independence movement as a small group of bandits, much of what comes out of official channels in China today is downright disconnected from reality. With their regular confabulatory press briefings, An Fengshan and Ma Xiaoguang, spokespersons for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), have become the Chinese equivalents of regular characters on the Saturday Night Live comedy show. Meanwhile, other officials in China or posted abroad constantly warn of war should Taiwan fail to return the embrace of a jealous and resentful suitor. 

Continues here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Analysis: Chinese Envoy to the U.S. Threatens War Over U.S. Navy Port Calls in Taiwan

While it is unlikely the PLA would invade Taiwan in response to the resumption of regular U.S. Navy visits to Taiwan, Taipei and Washington must weigh the advantages of the largely symbolic move against the possible costs 

Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Minister Li Kexin last week told hundreds of people assembled at an embassy event in Washington, D.C., that calls by U.S. Navy vessels at ports in Taiwan would violate China’s “Anti-Secession Law” of 2005 and automatically spark a military response. 

The blunt messaging on U.S. soil was ostensibly in response to the passage, on Nov. 30, of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act by Congress, which contains language authorizing the U.S. to evaluate the possibility of re-establishing “regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan” and allowing Taiwanese vessels to make port calls at U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) yards. 

Continues here.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Why America Should Beware a Resurgent China

The world is witnessing a new, more assertive phase in China’s foreign engagement under President Xi Jinping 

As it makes its presence felt in every corner of the world and posits an alternative to the Western liberal-democratic order that has underpinned international relations since the end of World War II, China is beginning to experience some of the blowback that other global leaders before it have been met with. And judging from the indignant reactions in some Beijing circles, that backlash was not entirely expected. 

With doubts over the future of U.S. global leadership rising and democracies worldwide arguably entering a period of fatigue, we are witnessing a new, more assertive phase in China’s foreign engagement under President Xi Jinping. China has seen an opportunity to displace an old international system that, in its view, is both unfair and which has outlived its usefulness, and it is now flexing its muscles to make this a reality. 

Continues here.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Making Transitional Justice Work

Institutionalization will be key to ensure the long-term survival of the many agencies that have a role to play in transitional justice, democracy, and human rights protection in Taiwan 

Taiwan took an important step in the consolidation of its democracy with the passing on Dec. 5 of transitional justice legislation that will establish a transitional justice system to address crimes perpetrated by the state during the Martial Law era. 

However, if this milestone is to facilitate its ultimate goal of accountability and reconciliation, it will have to be accompanied by a long-term commitment by the two main political parties — the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) — to institutional reform. Moreover, if transitional justice is simply used to remove symbols of past authoritarianism (e.g., statues of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek or the name of institutions), or if it is seen as a retributive tool to settle old scores with the KMT, then the prospects of this endeavor succeeding will be dim indeed. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lee Ming-che Sentencing a Warning to Others (Analysis)

More than the unfair treatment of a man who did nothing wrong, today’s sentencing is another reminder that China has no intention of playing by international rules. It is also a warning that Beijing has cast a much wider net to silence critics and those, Chinese and not, who propose an alternative system of governance in China

The Yueyang Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan Province today sentenced Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che to five years’ imprisonment for “subversion of state power” and suspended his political rights for two years, a ruling that Taiwan’s Presidential Office and rights organizations worldwide decried as “unacceptable.”

Lee was arrested in March upon entering China via Macau. After disappearing for several months, he resurfaced in court in Hunan Province in September, where he was accused of collaborating with others in China and on social media to “attack the Chinese government” and promote “Western-style democracy.”

Continues here.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

China Bans Tour Groups to the Vatican and Palau, Two Diplomatic Allies of Taiwan

The new directive by the central government is believed to be aimed at forcing the governments to switch diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing. In the Palau case, geopolitics could also be a consideration 

Travel agencies in China received a government directive on Nov. 16 ordering them to cease all tour groups to the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pacific island-nation of Palau, in what appears to be the latest effort to put pressure on official diplomatic allies of Taiwan. 

According to the notice from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), travel agencies that continue to promote tours to those destinations will be severely punished. Two travel agencies have reportedly been fined 300,000 yuan (US$45,000) amid inspections launched by government authorities. 

Continues here.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

We Must Push Back Before China Silences Us

Authoritarian China has turned its sights on the intellectuals in the West who are shedding light on what the regime and its proxies are doing to our liberal-democratic way of life. Our institutions must step in to ensure journalists and academics can continue to do their work without fear of legal repercussions 

The pressure that authoritarian China and its proxies abroad have exerted on media organizations and academic institutions in the West, and the corroding impact that such activities have had on freedom of expression, were brought to the public’s attention recently thanks to exposés in countries like Australia and New Zealand. 

Exploiting fears of lost business opportunities in the Chinese market or the drying up of Chinese students, several Western institutions in recent months have broken with proud Western traditions of openness by agreeing to self-censor. Publishers have pulled thousands of journal articles from electronic services in China, or stopped the publication of “controversial” books about Chinese influence. And professors have been reluctant to address, or have downright avoided, topics such as Taiwan, Tibet or the Cultural Revolution in the classroom, for fear of becoming targets of angry Chinese students — or the local Chinese consulate. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Municipal Liaison Offices in China: A Dangerous Idea

The mayors of Taipei and New Taipei City are exploring the possibility of setting up liaison offices in China, a plan which if implemented could assist Beijing’s efforts to sideline and discredit central state institutions in Taiwan 

Recently both the New Taipei City Government and the Taipei City Government have announced plans to open liaison offices in China to assist Taiwanese citizens and promote business ties. In the current context, such plans hold many pitfalls and could play into Beijing’s efforts to bypass and discredit central government institutions in Taiwan. 

On Friday, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, an independent, told city councillors of their intentions to open liaison offices in China. The announcements prompted a response from the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Saturday, which emphasized that decisions on initiatives pertaining to cross-Strait relations are the remit of the central government under the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Strange Case of Tom Wang, the Taiwanese Who Wants to be a CCP Member

A Taiwan-born pro-unification student who wants to join the Chinese Communist Party may have become the latest tool in Beijing’s united front work against Taiwan 

A Taiwanese PhD student currently enrolled at Peking University in Beijing says he wants to join the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is now slamming Taiwan’s democracy for threatening to fine him if he does. 

Tom Wang, 39, stated his intention to seek membership in the CCP next year after the two sessions of the 19th CCP party congress, which concluded last week. After Wang, who holds a Master’s Degree from York University in Toronto, Canada, made his announcement — coincidentally first reported in the Beijing-friendly China Times — Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) indicated that the student could be fined between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 (US$3,315-US$16,575) for violating Article 33 Paragraph 2 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. 

Continues here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Recall Attempt Against Huang Kuo-chang: What’s at Stake?

Conservative Christian groups are getting closer to unseating a progressive legislator from the New Power Party due to his support for same-sex marriage. The strategy is part of an evolving global assault against liberal values which finds its roots in the United States 

The Central Election Commission will announce on Oct. 31 whether a recall attempt against New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang initiated by a conservative umbrella organization earlier this year can proceed to a vote. 

The CEC’s decision, which is expected to be rendered on Tuesday, will come after the New Taipei City Election Commission confirmed last week that 26,745 signatures had been collected supporting a recall, thus surpassing the threshold of 10% of eligible voters in the municipality’s 12th electoral district, where Huang was elected, with 51.51% of the vote (80,508 votes), in the January 2016 legislative elections. If deemed valid by the CEC, the recall vote could be held as early as December. 

Continues here.

Friday, October 20, 2017

War of the Words: Why Xi Jinping's Big Speech Means Little to Taiwan

What matters isn’t so much what Xi said in his marathon speech, but rather what actions his government takes next 

China has the resolve, confidence and ability to quash Taiwanese independence in any form, Chinese president and Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping told a packed audience during his three-and-a-half-hour statement to the Nineteenth National Congress in Beijing. 

In his speech, which mainly focused on building a “modern socialist country,” Xi made a total of four references to the so-called 1992 Consensus, a construct that Beijing has insisted upon as a prerequisite for cross-Strait dialogue. Unlike her predecessor, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Taiwan-centric Democratic Progressive Party has refused to abide by the consensus and its inherent “one China” principle, choosing instead to acknowledge the progress that has been made in cross-Strait relations since the 1990s and to commit to constructive relations with Taiwan’s large neighbor by maintaining the status quo. 

Continues here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Taiwan Conspicuously Absent From Peace Event in Montreal

Repressive and authoritarian countries are all featured at an event about peace in Montreal. But Taiwan, one of the rare vibrant democracies in Asia, is snubbed 

A few weeks ago, following a workshop and a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., I flew home to Montreal for a few days of much-needed rest with family and friends. As luck would have it, work tends to hound me wherever I go, and as I sat in the lounge at Reagan National Airport waiting for my Air Canada flight to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, immediately across me was Fang Liu, the Chinese secretary general of the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the global body that, under her watch, has chosen to put politics above aviation safety. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Double Ten and the Narcissism of Small Differences in Taiwan

Both Taiwan and the ROC today overlap in the fundamental values and ideas that define society. Rather than bicker over nomenclatural differences and symbols, the two main political camps should emphasize what they have in common. Doing so might in fact be a matter of survival 

Once again this year the Double Ten celebrations on Tuesday sparked off a new round of debate in Taiwan about the significance of National Day (or “National Day”). Many of the entries and exchanges on Facebook, in newspaper columns and on evening talk shows served to exacerbate divisiveness rather than bring people together, as most national day celebrations normally do. 

As always, one camp needed to remind us all that Double Ten isn’t Taiwan’s birthday (it isn’t), while the more adamant among them — often those from afar — felt compelled to refer to whomever attended the celebrations as either stupid/brainwashed (they are not) or sellouts (ditto). 

Continues here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Illiberal Forces Push Back in Taiwan

Movements that are driven by a conservative ideology are joining hands to block various progressive efforts by the government in Taiwan. Using threats, violence, disinformation and even democratic instruments, these groups seek to intimidate civilians and elected officials in the pursuit of their objectives 

Violence-prone groups that advocate unification with China, a movement that opposes the Tsai Ing-wen government’s pension reform program and religious organizations that are dead set against the legalization of same-sex marriage (and homosexuality in general) have come together and formed a loose coalition in recent months, using tactics that go against the progressive momentum that has animated Taiwanese society in recent years. 

Though more alliance of convenience than an actual structured organization, the three movements have joined ranks to push back against what many regard as progress, and have had no compunction in resorting to threats and violence to punish, intimidate and silence their ideological opponents. Left unchecked, these activities will contribute to greater social instability and undermine the nation’s democratic institutions. 

Continues here.

Homage to Catalonia … and Taiwan

We can admire and encourage Catalans as they aspire to build their own country. But the situation there is a false, and potentially dangerous, analogy for Taiwan 

The recent drama in Catalonia after the Spanish constitutional court suspended an independence referendum for the self-governing region of 7.5 million people has reinvigorated the debate in Taiwan on whether the island-nation should hold its own referendum on de jure independence. 

As batons, boots and shields bruised bodies and broke bones in Barcelona, a good number of independentists back in Taiwan saw in a people’s travails a form of bravery and determination that, in their view, has been lacking in their own country. While the world looked on in horror as Spanish shock troops descended on unarmed civilians, Taiwan’s social media were filled with accusations, against their own, of apathy, lack of zeal and flabby patriotism. Catalonia, ebullient with defiance and its people willing to risk injury, stood as a shining symbol of self-determination. It was, many said, an example for Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

China Seeks Vicious Circle of Violence Through United Front Activities in Taiwan

Violent altercations at a concert held at National Taiwan University this past weekend are a powerful reminder that China’s United Front Work activities are intensifying and threaten Taiwan’s way of life 

Organized by the Taipei City and Shanghai municipal governments under a cross-Strait cultural agreement reached in 2010, a propagandistic music festival in Taipei descended into violence on Sunday after protesters disrupted it, prompting a reaction by pro-unification elements. 

The event, “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival,” (「2017《中國新歌聲》上海‧台北音樂節」) was sponsored by various Shanghai-based cultural groups, some which critics say may be involved in China’s United Front Work (UFW) efforts (the Taipei City Government page listing the organizers and sponsors of the event has since gone down). Organizers and sponsors include the Shanghai City Cross-Strait Cultural Exchange Promotion Association, the Shanghai Cultural Association, Shanghai Canxing Trading Co., Ltd., and Shanghai Voice of Dream Media Co. 

Continues here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The United Nations Is Creating a Security Dilemma for Taiwan

Taiwan remains shunned by the UN, which insists on de jure sovereignty for membership and continues to operate under a “One China” policy 

Taiwan and its allies at the United Nations will once again make the case during the UN General Assembly for the meaningful participation of Taiwan within the world body and its specialized agencies. 

The world’s twenty-second largest economy with a population of 23.5 million people, Taiwan is also a spectacular—and rare—example of what a people can accomplish when they peacefully transition from authoritarianism to a liberal-democratic way of life. Over the thirty years since the lifting of martial law, Taiwan has deepened its democracy and now occupies an enviable position as one of the safest, freest and most responsible nations, which the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators project makes amply clear. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What Lee Ming-che’s Show Trial Tells Us

More than anything, Beijing is using the Lee case to send a warning to Taiwan and the rest of the world that proposing political alternatives for China, or even criticizing the CCP, can be costly. Whoever or wherever you are 

The “trial” of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che, who went missing in China on March 19, opened yesterday at the Yueyang City Intermediate People’s Court, with Lee admitting to various purported crimes against China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

Lee, 42, pleaded guilty to “subverting the state” by “spreading articles that maliciously attacked the Communist Party of China, China’s existing system and China’s government” by calling for a multiparty political system. After admitting his “wrongs,” the rights activist said he had been mislead by vicious Taiwanese (and Western) media about China and that his eyes had been opened. Now seeing the real virtues of China, Lee said that after he is released from prison (at this writing no sentence has been given) and allowed to return to Taiwan he would work towards promoting unification. 

Continues here.