Tue, May 15, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Self-sufficiency can buck the CCP

By Chang Yan-ting 張延廷

The Dominican Republic’s severing of diplomatic ties with Taiwan earlier this month is another reminder of the way in which a rising China leverages its economic might and international influence to constrict Taiwan’s space in the international arena.

Beijing spends enormous sums of money on development assistance to lure away Taiwan’s diplomatic allies. It coerces Taiwanese public opinion through scare tactics and forces other nations to accept its so-called “one China” principle to obstruct a “one China, one Taiwan” solution and strip Taiwan of its sovereignty.

This means that all international channels are blocked off unless Taiwan is able to obtain China’s permission. Beijing is using a combination of economic and political means in a bid to snuff out the Republic of China and the idea of an independent nation called Taiwan.

As Taiwan faces the prospect of China’s transformation into a major power and its increasing international influence, it must also prepare itself for long-term autocratic rule by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), after he increased his power in March by forcing through the abolishment of constitutional presidential term limits.

From a long-term perspective, to deal with Beijing’s offensive tactics — poaching Taiwanese companies and talent, freezing Taiwan out of the international diplomatic community and intimidating the nation militarily — Taiwan must be on guard against China’s nimble use of the “carrot-and-stick” approach.

The government must study and understand internal changes within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the effect that they could have on the Taiwan Strait. It also needs to constrict China’s ability to poach Taiwanese companies and talent, and must prioritize innovation with a greater sense of urgency.

In terms of the economy and defense, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration must continue the drive to become more self-sufficient.

Taiwanese sovereignty is an extremely sensitive issue for Beijing, which naturally plans to use its economic advantage to achieve its diplomatic needs.

For decades, China’s Taiwan policy has focused on achieving unification. To that end, Beijing has started using economic incentives to target groups in Taiwan as part of its “united front” tactics in a kind of economic war designed to buy up Taiwan, hollow out its economy and isolate the nation.

The inevitable consequence of this for Taiwan would be a weakened economy, but also increased dependence on China.

In short, Beijing plans to use its economic might to place Taiwan in a straitjacket.

The CCP is adept at applying its unification strategy and divide-and-rule politics. It has used military intimidation to wage psychological warfare on Taiwan and to consolidate the party’s authority within China. It also uses external events to divert the public’s focus from political problems at home — a tactic on which the CCP has always relied.

The party uses a triumvirate of warfare on public opinion, psychological warfare and legal warfare to achieve its political goals, capitalizing on society’s increasing use of the Internet, big data and instantaneous communication to increase its effectiveness.

As such, propaganda involving military exercises is likely to become even more pointed and effective, as the war on public opinion becomes even more multifaceted.

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