Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: China’s strategy becoming clearer

Divide-and-conquer strategies have long played a pivotal role in China’s “united front” tactics aimed at bringing Taiwan into its fold.

However, while Beijing’s approach has focused more on grooming political parties, politicians and business leaders as its “proxies” in Taiwan to promote its unification propaganda while ignoring those whose political ideology it deemed hostile toward China, recent cases suggest that Beijing has shifted its approach, trying to engage all Taiwanese in general as its top priority.

The change signals that, in line with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) remarks at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 19th National Congress in October, promoting a sense of shared identity and winning Taiwanese over by any means available, as well as infiltrating and making political arrests, now form the basis of Beijing’s Taiwan policy.

Less than a month after the congress concluded, Taiwanese have already witnessed how Beijing’s two-handed strategy could be put in practice.

The first Cross-Strait Student Baseball League hosted in China’s Shenzhen from Friday last week is a prime example of how Beijing is attempting to realize Xi’s hopes of promoting a sense of shared identity and winning Taiwanese over.

Baseball being a popular sport in Taiwan, the league understandably attracted many Taiwanese, from elementary-school pupils to college students.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) opened the league’s finals on Friday standing in front of a banner that read “both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait are one family.”

Cross-straits Baseball Exchange and Cooperation Committee chief executive Xu Yong (徐勇) expressed his hope that through baseball, “more Taiwanese youth will be attracted to visit and better understand China.”

The competition might have been friendly and innocent, but the banner exposed China’s political agenda. Making an emotional appeal to Taiwanese, it was a narrowly concealed restatement of Beijing’s “one China” principle.

Beijing hoped the phrase would draw Taiwanese to develop emotional bonds with China, but it is a politically loaded phrase that was first introduced by Xi in 2013 in a meeting with former Taiwanese vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) at the Boao Forum for Asia in China’s Hainan Province; the phrase was subsequently formally listed at the “2014 Workshop on Taiwan Affairs” of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

The meaning of Xi’s directive on making political arrests is evident in the case of Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who on Tuesday last week was sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Yueyang in China’s Hunan Province for “subversion of state power” over claims that he used online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles attacking the Chinese government.

Going by Taipei prosecutors’ confirmation on Sunday that an investigation is under way into the National Immigration Agency’s procurement of information services and systems that might have been compromised by Chinese-made software and equipment, China has not taken a break from its attempts to infiltrate Taiwan.

These cases demonstrate that China’s divide-and-conquer strategy and its “united front” tactics — whether seemingly harmless sports events and people-to-people exchanges or clandestine activities to infiltrate Taiwanese society — have become more intricate and are reaching ever deeper.

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