The fuss stirred up by the talks that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (
Hu has managed to take the upper hand in cross-strait issues from the US. Washington, whose role no longer appears quite as dominant as it was, is now vying with Beijing for influence over Taiwan. In addition, the US' ability to define the nature of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is beginning to slip.
In the past, the US' dominant role was due in part to its superior military, as well as Taiwan's refusal to bow before Chinese intimidation. As a protector of Taiwan's democratic freedoms, US intervention had a degree of legitimacy.
This has all changed with Lien's and Soong's willingness to engage in talks with Hu. With one swift move, Hu can now meddle in Taiwan's political agenda through the KMT and the PFP, and has gained a degree of legitimacy similar to that of the US through doing so, diluting US dominance as a result.
Hu has also been able to create divisions in public opinion within Taiwan itself.
In point of fact, the US should have paid more attention to these talks and not be suckered into thinking they were a precursor for talks between Hu and President Chen Shui-bian (
The US should have insisted that the process be peaceful and cautioned that its results conform to the wishes of the Taiwanese people. If it had done so, Washington would still have been able to call the shots, define the bottom line, and have some control over how the situation develops.
This lack of understanding caused US statements prior to the visits to be interpreted as a blank check for Lien and Soong to say whatever they wanted in China. The US' emphasis was on paving the way for a meeting between Chen and Hu, but after Lien started making public statements in China, Washington belatedly realized that things were out of control.
Washington's calls for a dialogue between Chen and Hu are now too late. These would simply be regarded as yet another meeting between political parties. The ability of the US to have a decisive influence on the current cross-strait situation has therefore been greatly diminished by Hu's political tactics to sow dissent among political parties in Taiwan.
The pan-green camp's victory in the National Assembly elections has not affected the current political atmosphere. In the absence of strong leadership, the spirit of unified defiance with which Taiwan met the threats of China's missiles in 2000 may now be a thing of the past.
In the face of the recent changes in the relationship between the US, China and Taiwan, we must show ourselves able to take the initiative and define the issues. Hu doesn't need to exert influence indirectly through the US anymore, as he is able to act directly through allies in Taiwan, undermining the US' ability to control the agenda in the Taiwan Strait.
With China and the US competing for influence over Taiwan, it is likely that a pro-China and pro-US camp will emerge in response. This scenario has some similarities to the situation in Lebanon, where there exists a pro-Israel Christian force and a pro-Syria Islamic faction. This will be one of the greatest challenges that Taiwan's democracy has ever faced.
Lai I-chung is director of foreign policy studies at the Taiwan Thinktank.
Translated by Lin Ya-ti and Paul Cooper
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose