Tue, Sep 11, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Chinese tactics empty posturing

By Shih Ming-hsiung 施明雄

In the past few years, the world has witnessed Beijing boorishly press-gang a succession of international companies into acquiescing to its “one China” principle. This has manifested in the adoption of Chinese state-approved nomenclature on some companies’ Web sites, so that “Taiwan (China)” now appears alongside “Hong Kong (China)” and “Macau (China)” in country listings.

Another example involved Taiwan-based bakery cafe 85°C, which last month was pressured by Beijing into declaring its support for the so-called “1992 consensus.” Only last week, Swedish retail giant IKEA — which lists Taiwan as a separate country on its Web site — was thrust under the microscope in an editorial by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-run Global Times.

Last week, I finished reading The Firmament of The Pleiades, a 500,000-word historical novel by celebrated Japanese author Jiro Asada. The novel is set in Qing Dynasty-era China in the 22nd year of emperor Qianlong (乾隆) — 1757 — when Qianlong dispatched Zhaohui (兆惠), a senior general in the Qing army, to put down a rebellion by the Turkic people in Xinjiang, today known as the Uighurs.

Zhaohui captures a lot of money and property, which, along with the Turkic people’s leader and a beautiful princess, are taken to Beijing. The princess, known as the Fragrant Concubine (Xiangji, 香妃) or Iparhan (“Musky Woman”) in Chinese legend, is taken as consort by Qianlong and enters the imperial harem.

In accordance with the Uighur version of the legend, Iparhan stubbornly refused to submit to the emperor’s advances. Despite numerous gifts of gold and silver, pearls and precious stones, the construction of a mosque and a Uighur palace — even recreating Iparhan’s Uighur village in the courtyard of the imperial palace and arranging for fellow Uighurs to keep her company — Iparhan never relented. After five years of illness from depression, she died.

Real or imaginary, the legend is a fine illustration of the indomitable spirit of the Uighurs.

In 1996, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) won re-election as the nation’s first popularly elected president. Prior to the vote, then-Chinese vice premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) attempted to disrupt the election by threatening to fire missiles at Taiwan, while he also lead a delegation to Toronto, Canada.

At the time, I was chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Overseas Branch and a member of the Taiwan Benevolent Association. Alongside several hundred Taiwanese and supported by Tibetan refugees and displaced Uighurs, I took part in a demonstration outside the hotel in Toronto where Zhu was staying. Many of us maintained contact after the event.

Tibetans and Uighurs have their own languages, customs and cultures, and their appearance is markedly different from Han Chinese. Furthermore, the US’ independence from British colonial rule in 1776 established an important precedent: One people can establish more than one nation state.

US independence unleashed a wave of democracy around the world, and throwing off the shackles of an authoritarian regime in the pursuit of liberty and self-determination has become the sacrosanct right — and duty — of all of humanity.

Last month, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination accused the Chinese government of turning the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region into a secretive “massive internment camp,” detaining up to 1 million Uighurs in so-called counterextremism centers and forcing another 2.2 million into “re-education camps.”

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