There may be a Chinese-led attempt to cement the impression that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are working in tandem on the issue of sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), a source said in a recent tip-off to Taiwan’s national security agencies.
According to the source, World Chinese Alliance in Defense of the Diaoyu Islands (世界華人保釣聯盟, WCADDI) executive director Huang Hsi-lin (黃錫麟) has made a habit of raising funds in China prior to launching any protests related to the Diaoyutais, which are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
Huang, who is also the secretary-general of the Chung Hwa Baodiao Alliance, reported to Chinese officials after each protest, the sources added.
National security officials said that Huang was planning a trip to China today that would last eight days and that Huang’s group, numbering 36 in total, only had to pay US$6,090 per person, suggesting someone was subsidizing their trip. The officials added that they suspected China’s Taiwan Affairs Office was involved in a Diaoyutai talk the group is supposed to give on its fifth day in Beijing.
Coupled with the fact that Huang brought the Chinese national flag to the islets during his group’s protest and that three Chinese ships appeared near the islands during another protest earlier this year, it is evident that China is working at bolstering the impression that both sides of the Strait are working together on the Diaoyutais issue, the source said.
On the morning of June 4 last year, Huang and two other WCADDI members set off for the Diaoyutais to protest against Japan’s claim and reiterate Taiwan’s claims of sovereignty. The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) mobilized three ships to protect Huang, but although the CGA ships successfully barred the Japanese from boarding Huang’s ship, Huang said that he forgot to bring the Republic of China flag and instead threw the People’s Republic of China flag on the waters around the islands in a gesture of defiance.
According to national security officials, although Huang boasted that several Chinese netizens had donated a total of 150,000 yuan (US$24,100) in three days after they had heard of his protests, the information provided by the source and from other data showed that some of the donations had come from official Chinese channels.
At the end of January, Huang embarked on another protest about the islands with the blessing of the CGA, which mobilized four ships to protect him.
The ships encountered eight Japanese ships and three Chinese ships, which prompted the CGA ships to both maneuver against the Japanese ships while asking the Chinese ships to leave the territorial waters of the Republic of China to prevent the assumption that both sides of the Strait were collaborating on the issue.
The “chance” appearance of Chinese ships the moment CGA ships and protesters arrived around the Diaoyutais was “too coincidental,” national security officials said, adding that it was hard not to suspect some sort of Chinese attempt to forge the impression of both sides of the Strait working together on the issue.
In response, Huang said that the source was fabricated and that he was innocent of all the insinuations made against him.
Huang said that a friend in China had invited him to China in June last year, adding that he was unable to make good on the journey until this month due to unforeseen delays.
“I am only visiting Tianjin City, Chengde City and Shanhai Pass in Hebei Province,” Huang said, adding that his travel plans were purely for pleasure and he had no plans for talks in Beijing.
“At most, I’ll be visiting a few other groups and eating dinners with some Taiwanese businesspeople,” Huang said, asking others not to read too much into his plans and not to believe rumors.
Additional reporting by Hsieh Chia-chun