Thu, Aug 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

China’s efforts coercive, AEI fellow says

NO PUSHBACK:Beijing has demonstrated that it can censor speech in the rest of the world without incurring any real cost to itself, Michael Mazza said in an opinion piece

By Nadia Tsao and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON, with staff writer

Democratic nations must stand up to China in defense of democracy, as Beijing demands international companies adhere to its “one China” principle, Michael Mazza, a visiting fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank, said in an opinion piece published on Tuesday.

China’s demand that foreign companies outside of China follow Beijing’s political policy on Taiwan is an attack on democracy that should not be tolerated, he said in the piece, published on the Nikkei Asian Review’s Web site, titled “China’s airline censorship over Taiwan must not fly.”

Failing to counter these attacks would bring the war on democracy to the front door of the US, Japan and other like-minded nations, Mazza said.

Beijing’s pressure on Taiwan has been the result of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) refusing to discuss the cross-strait relationship in terms acceptable to Beijing — by refusing to refer to both sides of the Taiwan Strait as “one China” — and demanding that international companies to refer to Taiwan in Beijing-specified terms is one of a number of ways in which China has been trying to isolate Taiwan and push it out of the international sphere, he said.

However, criticizing companies for capitulating to China’s demands is not the solution, as companies must answer to their shareholders, Mazza said, adding that governments must do more.

Despite welcome comments from US senators and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who called China’s demands “Orwellian nonsense” and “part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,” these comments have not coincided with official US policy, he said.

Beijing knows that airlines are concerned about revenue, and in the absence of a strong official policy compelling it to back off, China will continue to pressure companies to kowtow in exchange for access to the Chinese market, he added.

China is seeking to “compel speech” in democracies around the world and there is already evidence of individuals and corporations self-censoring to stay on Beijing’s good side, Mazza said.

“Beijing seeks to shape a world that is safe for the Chinese Communist Party. Weakening foreign democracies is, perhaps, the best way to do so,” he said.

Beijing has proven that it can censor speech in the US without incurring any real cost, he said.

Beijing hopes that its actions toward foreign countries and companies on the Taiwan issue over the past two years would eventually “create a world in which Taiwan’s de facto independence is no longer appreciated and in which Beijing’s ‘one China’ principle goes unquestioned,” he said.

Such a situation would make it unlikely that a foreign power would intervene in a military conflict between China and Taiwan, as the outcome would jeopardize regional stability and affect the US’ Asia-Pacific allies, Mazza added.

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