Vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) had not even returned from his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) over the weekend in Hainan before it was hailed as a watershed event and a clear sign of rapprochement between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Playing the limelight game to perfection, Hu said he had been moved to think “deep” thoughts about Taiwan and in the same stroke managed, yet again, to portray President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as the one responsible for the diplomatic freeze of the past eight years.
But as the camera flashes dim down, emotions must settle and cooler heads must now weigh the meaning of the Hu-Siew meeting. First, we must remember that Siew participated at the Boao Forum as a representative of a non-governmental organization (NGO) rather than an official-elect of a democratic and autonomous system. In other words, the media’s characterization of the meeting as involving the highest-ranking officials since this whole sad affair began 59 years ago needs qualification, as Hu’s meeting with People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) in 2005 could also be painted in the same light.
Symbolically, as Chen rightly pointed out, Siew was seated next to the chief executives of Macau and Hong Kong, which certainly wasn’t the result of accidental name-plate assignment.
What will truly reveal Hu’s intent or the depth of his “deep” thought will be how he treats Siew and other elected Taiwanese officials, including president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), once they assume office and can no longer pretend to meet officials from other countries as heads of NGOs. Only then will we be able to see if the KMT win in the presidential election truly brought about a departure in Sino-Taiwanese relations and in Hu’s stance on Taiwan.
Before then — and the table arrangement seems to indicate that this was the case — it was just too easy for Hu to pretend that he was simply meeting a business official, one of the many beggars who kowtow before the emperor’s throne.
In fact, the significance of the brief meeting was so slight that Chen’s contention that Hu orchestrated the talks to divert attention from events in Tibet was unhelpful cynicism. Ironically, with his comment Chen may have echoed the media and given the meeting more weight than it deserved.
As an official who has yet to begin office, Siew still has more freedom of action than he will have a little more than a month from now. After he and Ma replace the Democratic Progressive Party administration on May 20, they will know again that in a democracy, power comes with responsibilities and that the public will hold them to account — and significantly more than heads of NGOs and non-elected officials.
As a result, their actions and rhetoric will increasingly reflect the aspirations of the public, and what they are bound to say is unlikely to resonate with Beijing.
Conversely, if they fail to do that and fail to fine-tune their behavior to reflect the expectations of those who elected them, their stay in office could be a short one indeed.
Let’s wait and see, then, how welcoming Hu will be if Ma and Siew become the leaders of and for Taiwanese that they promised. Will Hu still have “deep” thoughts then, or will it be “deep” anger?
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
Taiwan is beautiful — no doubt about it. In Taipei, the streets are clean, the skyline is gorgeous and the subway is world-class. The coastline is easily accessible and mountains can be seen in the distance. The people are hardworking, successful and busy. Every luxury known to humankind is available and people live on their smartphones. As an American visiting for the first time, here are some things I learned about the country. First, people from Taiwan and America love freedom and democracy and have for many years. When we defeated Japan in 1945, Taiwan was freed from Japanese rule. In
More than 100 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels and aircraft were detected making incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday and Monday, the Ministry of National Defense reported on Monday. The ministry responded to the incursions by calling on China to “immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions,” saying that Beijing’s actions could “easily lead to a sharp escalation in tensions and worsen regional security.” Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that the unusually high number of incursions over such a short time was likely Beijing’s response to efforts
Taiwan’s first indigenous defense submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (SS-711), is to be launched tomorrow and undergo underwater testing next month. It is a major breakthrough in upgrading the nation’s self-defense capabilities, and would make it more difficult for China to blockade Taiwan. Facing Beijing’s escalating military threats and ambitions of expanding across the Taiwan Strait, a domestically developed submarine was first proposed in the 1990s under then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program was formally initiated in 2016, as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, with the aim of creating a fleet of eight domestically developed submarines. The