Sun, Jan 14, 2018 - Page 6 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Taiwan needs to stand up to China

Beijing has been active lately and doing its utmost to provoke Taiwan. Not content with increasing the number of sorties by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force bombers, spy planes and fighter jets to probe Taiwanese airspace and with dispatching naval vessels to circle Taiwan, China’s leaders have unilaterally launched a new civil aviation route — route M503 — only 7.8km from the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

On Sunday last week, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) chaired a national security meeting to address the issue. On the same day, Beijing ratcheted up its suppression of Taiwan by canceling broadcasts of Taiwanese show My Dear Boy (我的男孩), produced by Taiwanese actress and producer Ruby Lin (林心如). The TV series was denounced as “pro-independence” for having received subsidies from Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and was pulled from the broadcast schedule in Guangdong Province.

China’s gradual intrusion into the nation’s domestic affairs requires a robust response from the government, because the more the Tsai administration seeks to appease the Chinese tiger, the more voracious its appetite becomes.

China’s latest encroachments on Taiwan must not be ignored. For instance, on the disputed aviation routes, the Tsai administration has accused China of harboring “deliberately concealed political and military objectives” that “destabilize regional stability,” but has stopped short of announcing a specific response. This means it is preaching to deaf ears, and Chinese and Hong Kong airlines will continue to use the new routes.

Despite a recent national security report having identified “an accelerating cross-strait military imbalance” and China’s increasing military might posing the greatest threat to Taiwan, all the government can come up with is a limp threat to “give China a bloody nose” if it launches a military invasion of Taiwan. Such bland officialese has zero deterrence credibility.

The stream of hostile actions from Beijing is part of a plan.

China continues to threaten militarily — examples would include the threat by Li Kexin (李克新), minister at China’s Washington embassy, that “the day a US warship docks in the port of Kaohsiung will be the day the PLA militarily unifies Taiwan with China.” Taken together with the frequent probes of Taiwanese waters and airspace by Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels, Beijing’s tactic is clearly to make a big show of its military strength.

In addition to verbal intimidation, the PLA uses military drills and reconnaissance patrols — rather than firing missiles into the sea as in the past — as cover for its invasion preparations.

Beijing also hopes to normalize the sense of military threat among the Taiwanese public so that Taiwan gradually becomes lulled into a military trap. Of course, as observers in Washington have said, China is also testing US President Donald Trump’s administration to see how he reacts.

In trying to annex Taiwan, Beijing has for many years employed — in addition to so-called “military unification,” or military actions — a three-pronged attack of domestic legislation, psychological warfare and public opinion, which it has added to its “united front” strategy. By ramping up hard and soft power, it plans to achieve its aims without firing a single shot.

Beijing put on a smile — hiding the knife behind its back — and dangled the fat carrot of “concessions” when dealing with former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), but quickly stopped smiling and severed all contact when Tsai refused to recognize the so-called “1992 consensus” — letting the steel blade glint periodically.

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