Mon, Dec 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Coherent strategy needed to counter China: report

DIVIDE AND CONQUER:China has been working hard to alienate the Taiwanese public from the government, the Institute for National Defense and Security Research said

By Aaron Tu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwanese sovereignty and democratic institutions will be increasingly undermined by China’s growing influence without a coherent strategic response from the government, an Institute for National Defense and Security Research report said.

Promoting social-economic integration, sowing political division and introducing unilateral changes to the “status quo” are the main instruments of Beijing’s “united front” work against Taiwan, the think tank said in the Annual Assessment of the Security Environment in the Indo-Pacific Region, published on Dec. 13.

China’s operations have expanded from growing economic and social ties to ideological integration by means such as increasing the enrollment of Taiwanese students at Chinese universities and its 31 measures to attract Taiwanese, it said.

Beijing is increasingly looking to “sharp power” to counter the negative perception of China held by Taiwanese, it said.

China continues to rely on a divide-and-conquer strategy and seeks to alienate Taiwanese from their government by using diplomatic pressure, military drills and the 31 measures, and by offering residency permits, it said.

For example, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office claimed that the wave of diplomatic ally poaching, and sea and air drills in June, were intended for Premier William Lai (賴清德) — who has said he is pro-independence — and not for the public, it said.

While Beijing avoided conspicuous actions during Taiwan’s past few elections, it broke the pattern this year by stepping up interference operations in the run-up to the Nov. 24 local elections, the report said.

The Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau discovered that China had made substantial campaign contributions to certain political candidates and spread fake news online, it said.

Beijing’s diplomatic offensive is intended to assert its “one China” principle in the international arena to create the impression that Taiwan is a part of China, forcing Taipei’s acquiescence to the so-called “1992 consensus,” it said.

The “1992 consensus,” a term that former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted to making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Inflicting “disproportionate punishment” on Taiwan by means such as forcing name changes at international organizations is part of Beijing’s efforts to shape the international perception of Taiwan, and encourage it to accept “Taiwan, China” (中國台灣) it said.

China’s “united front” tactics — including friendly gestures, exchanges and threats — have public and clandestine components, and the clandestine component is far more substantial than the public component, the report said.

The clandestine component of “united front” work consists of under-the-table exchanges with Taiwanese enterprises, private associations involved in cross-strait exchanges, members of the social and economic elite, and the media, it said.

From China’s perspective, “united front” tactics have achieved measurable success in Taiwan, while Taiwanese authorities have not effectively coordinated their response across government agencies, it said.

Should the government fail to check Beijing’s “united front” work with a strategic policy, the nation’s sovereign status and democratic institutions are certain to be affected, the institute said.

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