Finally, all three regimes have used the “Big Lie,” a propaganda technique successfully employed by Joseph Goebbels, which believes convincing the public is easier with a large lie rather than a small one. As used by Beijing, the “big lie” has proven at least partially successful in convincing people around the world that China has valid historical claims to islands in the East China Sea, almost the entire South China Sea, Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.
China’s expansionist aims can be demonstrated through its actions in the South China Sea. As shown on a map, China claims virtually the entire body of water. This line dates back to the days of Nationalist China in 1947 when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government made this claim, which then-Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) reiterated after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Naturally, many Southeast Asian countries have protested.
The absurdity of the Chinese claim is that it stretches to waters south of Vietnam, which extends 1,650km from north to south. Thus, the Chinese claim goes more than 1,000km south of China’s southernmost border at Hainan Island.
Beijing also argues that the South China Sea belongs to China for historical reasons, noting that Chinese porcelains have been found in various areas around the sea. Chinese porcelains (and many other goods) were widely traded and transported to many places, but in the South China Sea most of this trade was conducted by Arabs and by Southeast Asians, not by Chinese traders. China’s claims to the whole of the South China Sea are part of the “Big Lie.”
In this context, it should be noted that Taiwan has a claim to islands in the South China Sea that differs from that of China. During the Japanese colonial period (from 1895 to 1945), Japan administered these islands as part of Taiwan through Kaohsiung Prefecture. Thus one can argue that they have long been part of Taiwan and remain so today.
The Chinese make the South China Sea problem even more difficult to resolve by insisting on negotiating with each of the claimants separately. Clearly, if more than two countries claim the same place, it would be preferable to have multilateral discussions, but China refuses because it believes it can use its size and strength to intimidate smaller countries in one-on-one negotiations, and multiple opponents cannot coalesce against it in them.
China believes that a strong enmeshing of the Chinese and Taiwanese economies will eventually lead to unification. This belief is wrong in that political unification does not follow close economic ties. Yet, China clearly is beginning to influence Taiwan’s economy in undesirable ways. For example, Chinese influence in Taiwan’s media is becoming stronger with such people as Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) controlling the China Times and Want Want media groups, as well as Cti television and various cable TV companies.
The China Times, Want Daily and CtiTV have proved to be handmaidens of China, unwilling to publish news that might displease the leaders in Zhongnanhai. In Taiwan many believe these media serve the interests of the Chinese and no longer work on behalf of Taiwanese.