Over the years, Chinese authorities have relentlessly attempted to prevent Taiwan from joining international organizations lest this give Taipei the sovereign legitimacy that Beijing considers anathema to its “one China” principle.
Although such behavior has made it impossible for Taiwan to have its voice heard in international forums like the UN or the WHO, Beijing’s object was ostensibly the symbolism of Taiwanese participation rather than the practicalities and benefits that Taiwan would derive from membership.
Despite superficially warmer ties between Taipei and Beijing since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) launched his cross-strait lovefest two years ago, Chinese officials have often overlooked the “goodwill” they are alleged to have showered on their Taiwanese compatriots by continuing to deny Taiwan international breathing space. This has targeted symbols of Taiwanese nationhood, such as a delegation of moviemakers at the Tokyo International Film Festival in late October attending under the name “Taiwan.”
However, behind such headline-grabbing acts of insanity lurk several instances of Chinese officials impeding Taiwanese efforts in a different sphere altogether: the economic sector. This is often the result of Chinese officials at the local level pressuring governments by raising the specter of Chinese “anger.”
By virtue of their proximity to and growing dependence on China, developing countries in Southeast Asia — Cambodia, to name a recent example — have often yielded to such pressure, leading to delays in the establishment of Taiwanese trade missions there.
Meddling of this type touches on matters of economics, as if it were illegal for Taiwan to trade with regional economies. The object here is not the signing of free-trade agreements or other measures that could be construed by Beijing as conferring sovereignty upon Taiwan, but rather the fundamental right of human beings, regardless of their race or nation, to seek economic prosperity through trade.
We could, for the sake of generosity, show forbearance to officials in Phnom Penh and attribute their dishonorable behavior to their position of weakness vis-a-vis Beijing. Where magnanimity is less easily summoned, however, is when officials in rich countries — say, state governors in the US — engage in similar acts of prostration to appease Beijing. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon canceling a trip by a business delegation to Taiwan this month after the Chinese consul general for the Midwest hinted that the visit could be being misinterpreted in Beijing and “endanger” plans for China to start using Lambert St.-Louis International Airport for cargo shipments, was just the latest in a growing list of disgraceful weakness by politicians who, unlike their Cambodian counterparts, cannot reasonably be considered to be in a position of weakness.
Even more deplorable is that these officials are seemingly being cowed by Chinese officials who are, as far as we can tell, freelancing and not acting on directives from Beijing. That the stern officials in Zhongnanhai would spend their days plotting against every trade and business agreement between Taiwan and other countries is difficult to imagine; Beijing has far too much on its hands to waste time and energy ordering officials to counter every such endeavor.
We seem to have entered an era where state governors, mayors and officials in the world’s most powerful nations can be browbeaten by lowly Chinese officials who are slightly overzealous in their nationalistic entrepreneurialism. It’s one thing (though by no means more excusable) to think twice when threats of Beijing’s “anger” come out of Zhongnanhai itself, it is another entirely when the messenger is a local fraud with delusions of grandeur.
If we are to resist growing Chinese encroachment in every aspect of our lives, we’ll have to learn to say no. A good place to start would be with such miscreants.
The US on Friday hosted the second Global COVID-19 Summit, with at least 98 countries, including Taiwan, and regional alliances such as the G7, the G20, the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) attending. Washington is also leading a proposal to revise one of the most important documents in global health security — the International Health Regulations (IHR) — which are to be discussed during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) that starts on Sunday. These two actions highlight the US’ strategic move to dominate the global health agenda and return to the core of governance, with the WHA
Just as the cause of the Kursk submarine disaster remains shrouded in mystery — the nuclear-powered Russian submarine suffered an explosion during a naval exercise on Aug. 12, 2000, and sank, killing all 118 crew onboard — it is unlikely that we will ever get to the bottom of the sequence of events last month that led to the sinking of the Moskva guided missile cruiser, the flagship of the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet. Ukraine claims it struck the vessel with two missiles, while Russia says ammunition onboard the ship exploded and the ship tipped over while being towed
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, was “amazed” and “enthralled” by Chinese who rise at 3am for work. He praised it as a manifestation of talent and a good work ethic. Truthfully, that praise and statement about China, no matter its motivation, is nothing more than a round of applause for the atrocities inflicted by dictators and the spiritual anesthesia of their victims. “There’s just a lot of super-talented, hard-working people in China that strongly believe in manufacturing,” Musk said in an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday. “And they won’t just be burning the midnight oil, they’ll be
Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has lived in a constant state of fear that it might share the fate of its former mentor and ideological bedfellow. To stay in power, the party had to strike a difficult balancing act: maintaining a tight grip on information, while simultaneously opening up to the world under the program of economic reform initiated by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平). The balancing act became increasingly difficult with the popularization of the Internet in the mid-1990s. The CCP could not block Chinese citizens from accessing the Internet, as