Avoiding China's united front line

Rick Chu  / 

Wed, Jan 12, 2000 - Page 8

Most of the Chinese government agents handling Taiwan affairs, especially the ones working for Taiwan Affairs Offices under the State Council (國台辦) and local governments (地方台辦) have worked for the Ministry of State Security (國安部) or have received formal training on managing the so-called "united front work" (統戰, or espionage affairs.

The Taiwanese, who have no understanding about anti-espionage, are not qualified to be the rivals of these Chinese spies. Therefore, the Chinese call the Taiwanese Dai-bao (呆胞, stupid Taiwanese), a derogatory derivative of Tai-bao (台胞, Taiwanese brethren).

Apart from their professional training in united front work, the Chinese officials on Taiwan affairs are also well-informed about current affairs in Taiwan. Hence they are good at manipulating the contradictions among the Taiwanese business groups operating in China.

Since I ran across intelligence agents in Beijing ten years ago, I have learned how to defend myself against their propaganda wars. Last week, James Soong (宋楚瑜) was questioned about why he talked with the Chinese scholar in charge of overseas united front work on CNN, a man whose position is not on a par with Soong's.

The next day, however, I was surprised to see another cable program conduct an interview with the same Chinese scholar again. His remarks were full of "united front work" cliches, and he even told the audience who they should vote for in Taiwan's presidential election in March.

All of his comments were hardly acceptable for Taiwanese. Is the diversity in our society such that we can tolerate such statements being broadcast on TV? Perhaps the Chinese no longer need their Ministry of State Security since some Taiwan TV channels are already acting as their mouthpieces! The People's Liberation Army does not even have to cross the Taiwan Strait; they can beat us even while staying in their own ball park!

Though there has been a lot of interaction between the two sides of the strait, the Chinese authorities still regard Taiwan as a key power struggle and they will never give up any opportunity to struggle against Taiwan. (This is what I heard from a high-ranking Chinese official.)

Soong has deviated from public opinion by being a lackey of the Beijing authorities. This is his own choice.

However, Taiwanese media should be aware of conspiracies and should avoid falling into the trap of being China's megaphone or hired thug. Voters and audiences should say "no" to those politicians or media who have no sense of social responsibility.

Rick Chu is Associate Editor in Chief of the Taipei Times