When reporters at a Hong Kong police news conference asked whether plainclothes police were playing any role in the protests, a senior officer admitted that plainclothes operatives had been deployed “in various roles.” A reporter at the news conference showed photographs of a masked police officer wearing black civilian clothes throwing a Molotov cocktail toward police from among a crowd of protesters.
When plainclothes officers playing the role of “fighters” mingle with the crowd, some of them look for chances to worsen the disorder by throwing Molotov cocktails, thus providing a pretext for violent intervention by the police, while others wait for attacks to take place so that they can arrest some of the real “fighters.”
These actions resemble a strategy long employed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP): infiltrating organizations, be they “friendly” or “hostile,” and creating contradictions between opposing factions to gain the greatest possible benefit.
The CCP applies a strategy of “thesis, antithesis and synthesis” to create or deepen contradictions between the two sides and turn them into conflicts. It can then just stand back and give both sides more fuel to add to the flames, so that its enemy is riven by irreconcilable internal differences and eventually splits apart of its own accord.
The factions attack one another and destroy themselves. When the time comes, it is easy to finish the enemy off and reap whatever benefits result.
This strategy — thesis, antithesis and synthesis — has been so successful that the CCP has applied it again and again.
In the protests in Hong Kong, the daytime “peaceful, rational and non-violent” campaign has given way to a campaign of radical “fighters” in the evenings.
However, these two trends have not attacked one another or drawn a line between themselves, having learned by experience from the failure of the 2014 “Umbrella movement” and the divisions sown within it.
A movement that allows itself to be divided will end up by destroying itself.
China’s strategy toward Taiwan relies on the same thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
More than a decade has passed since the CCP started sending people to make contact with leading figures in Taiwanese overseas organizations. Under the guise of “exchanges” and “mutual understanding,” its real purpose is to find out about these groups, their leaders, operations and ways of thinking — and the contradictions that exist between them.
The CCP has found out every detail about us so that when the time comes it can launch its thesis, antithesis and synthesis attacks. Some of them play the role of supporters, standing with you and agreeing with what you say, while others play the role of the opposition, sharpening the divisions among you.
The presidential and legislative elections will be a life-or-death battle for Taiwan and an opportunity for the CCP to reap whatever benefits its strategy has yielded.
Is thesis, antithesis and synthesis really as effective a strategy as it is made out to be? To find the answer, just look at how overseas Taiwanese organizations have been attacking our elected president.
If you ask them what they are so unhappy about, they cannot give you a straight answer, apart from some emotional verbiage.
The enthusiastic support we used to see for Taiwanese presidential candidates has been submerged in squabbles about peripheral issues.
It should be obvious who stands to gain the most from such divisions. What is true of overseas organizations is equally true of Taiwan.
Mike Chang is an accountant.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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