Sat, Jan 02, 2016 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: A new year, a new step backwards

Xinjiang Chinese Communist Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian (張春賢) yesterday proclaimed that the government had been “broadly successful” in maintaining stability in the region, its “de-radicalization” efforts were working and the “atmosphere for religious extremism has weakened.”

On Thursday, Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) issued a New Year’s greeting to Taiwan that was little more than a thinly veiled threat and an attempt to boost the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) chances in the Jan. 16 presidential and legislative elections.

He said that he hoped Taiwanese realize the gains made under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration could evaporate if Taiwan defies Beijing’s insistence that it remains a part of the Chinese nation. He also said that the public on both sides of the Taiwan Strait need to be on high alert to “oppose any pro-independence separatist attempts to split Taiwan from China and to sabotage peace and stability.”

While on the surface, the two Zhangs were commenting on very disparate issues, their remarks were a reminder that while the rest of the world was welcoming a new year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is not only trying to keep China locked in the party’s fairy-tale nightmare, but also to convince the rest of the world of the truth of its lies.

Beijing has been hard at work for the past decade trying to perpetuate the myth that the civil and religious tensions and violence in Xinjiang have been the result of terrorist acts by Uighur groups akin to al-Qaeda or, more recently, the Islamic State group — much the way it has been accusing the Dalai Lama of encouraging violence in Tibet and inciting “hatred, terror and extremist action” by presiding over Kalachakra initiation ceremonies.

It refuses to admit that the party’s heavy-handed efforts to restrict or outlaw traditional religious and cultural practices by the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and Buddhist Tibetans, its promotion of Han-centric policies and the economic marginalization of Uighurs and Tibetans in their historic lands have anything to do with the unrest in Xinjiang, Tibet and predominantly Tibetan parts of what is now Sichuan Province.

What makes this a matter of concern for Taiwanese, if pure outrage over the abuse of human rights in those two regions was not enough, was that China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Sunday approved a new anti-terrorism law that takes effect this month, one that makes it easier for Beijing to label a violent attack as terrorism as well as “thought [or] speech” that aims to “subvert state power” or “split the state.”

While many analysts have focused on Xinjiang when discussing the new law, the CCP clearly had the Dalai Lama in mind when drafting the legislation, since one of its favorite adjectives for him is “splittist.”

Taiwanese need to be concerned because of the frequency with which Zhang Zhijun and others mutter darkly about those who would “split Taiwan from China,” ie, members of the Democratic Progressive Party and other non-KMT followers. They should also remember another Chinese law, the “Anti-Secession” Law passed just over a decade ago, which authorizes Beijing to use force to stop any move by Taiwan toward independence.

Passage of that law drew hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Taipei on March 26, 2005, to protest against China’s threat.

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