The Taipei-Shanghai forum got off to a rocky start on Wednesday as the arrival of the Shanghai delegation at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) was disrupted by a crowd chanting protest slogans, until they were removed by police. The annual forum, introduced in 2010 by then-Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), has sparked more criticism of late due to Beijing’s increased suppression of Taiwan in the international community since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected in 2016.
Last year, no summit was held, but a Taipei-Shanghai concert staged on National Taiwan University’s athletic field ended in chaos when pro-unification groups clashed with protesters and several students were assaulted.
The pro-Taiwanese independence groups Free Taiwan Party and 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign have said that the forum falls under China’s “united front” tactics, but Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) says the forum only serves as a venue for discussing the circular economy or cultural issues.
Quite possibly, Ko and other forum proponents view it as a harmless exchange, but for Beijing, nothing related to Taiwan is separate from its ultimate goal of unification. Even as preparations for the arrival of the Shanghai delegation were under way on Tuesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army conducted military exercises just off the coast of Taiwan.
Earlier this month, Chinese National Tourism Administration officials met with industry operators in Taiwan to discuss boosting tourism in Kaohsiung, a thaw in relations due apparently to the city’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mayor-elect, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), acknowledging the so-called “1992 consensus.”
Even the cancelation of the East Asian Youth Games, originally to be held in Taichung in August, proves that for Beijing everything relates to politics when it comes to Taiwan. It would therefore seem inevitable that the twin-city forum would touch upon unification in some fashion. Taiwanese must decide whether they are content with their elected municipal leaders meeting Chinese officials, given Beijing’s unification agenda and knowing that their democratic freedoms are at risk if the agenda is pushed forward.
China continuously ignores the rights of its own citizens — the most glaring example is the mass imprisonment of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region — but has also unjustly detained Hong Kongers, Taiwanese and most recently Canadians.
Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), the wife of jailed Taiwanese democracy advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), was last month again denied the right to visit her husband.
Earlier this month, two Canadians were arrested in China, allegedly in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) in Canada. Beijing has demanded that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drop the charges against Meng, but the Chinese government apparently does not understand that in a country based on rule of law, even the prime minister cannot clear indictments simply because he wants to.
The rights of Taiwanese could never be guaranteed under a government that lacks such a basic understanding of democracy and shows such a blatant disregard for human rights.
Taiwanese who believe that the economy would improve under Chinese rule should look to Hong Kong: The Financial Times on June 29 last year reported that the territory’s economy had grown overly reliant on the Chinese market and had become vulnerable to economic fluctuations there.
Hong Kong’s benefit as a trading port has been lost to large cities in China such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Ningbo, and tourism has declined, as Chinese have grown tired of the political unrest in the territory and the antagonism they face there.
In theory, municipal exchanges facilitate mutual learning and development, but when one of those cities is in China, the risks outweigh the benefits.
An article on the Nature magazine Web site reports that 22 scientists last month wrote to the daily Dagens Nyheter criticizing Sweden’s no-lockdown response to COVID-19. However, evidence-based analysis shows that a lockdown is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and Sweden is showing the world a sustainable way for everybody to fearlessly live with the virus, which is an inevitable situation that everyone must face and accept for a while. The biggest myth about lockdowns is that they are the only solution when an epidemic worsens. A lockdown is a measure to cordon off a seriously affected area so that people in
On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) spoke during the opening ceremony of this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA). For the first time in the assembly’s history, attendees, including Xi, had to dial in virtually. Xi made no acknowledgement of the Chinese government’s role in causing the COVID-19 pandemic, nor was there any meaningful apology. Instead, he painted China as a benign force for good and a friend to all nations. Except Taiwan, of course. The address was a reheated version of the speech Xi gave at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Xi again attempted to step into the