There was a time not so long ago when Taiwan’s government could be counted on to support oppressed minorities and dissidents in China, a time when Taipei would speak in their name and request that their rights be respected.
Doing so came at a cost, as it could sour already poor relations with Beijing, but at least Taipei could stand by its principles and be called a bastion of democracy in the region.
A mere month has elapsed and already that image is being threatened. Fearing that rattling the cage would complicate ongoing cross-strait negotiations, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) avoided referring to the Tiananmen Square Massacre or calling for the release of protesters from that era in his June 4 speech — a sad departure from previous years. The rest of his government has fared no better.
Since then, reports have emerged that a handful of Chinese activists have been arrested for scratching beneath the surface in the quake-hit areas and exposing circumstances that Beijing would prefer stay unknown. Huang Qi (黃琦) was detained for seeking to provide assistance to families who lost children in the catastrophe, writers Huang Xiaomin (黃曉敏) and Zhang Qi (張起) were detained on May 16 for seeking to join relief efforts, while Zeng Hongling (曾宏玲), a retired worker who published several accounts of his visits to quake-hit areas, was detained on June 9 on suspicion of “illegally providing information overseas.”
Then, with the Olympic torch heading for Xinjiang, reports revealed that thousands of Uighur Muslims in the region had been “preventively” rounded up, passports had been seized and a number of people forced into “political education” on “protecting” the Olympics — preparations for the Games that are sure not to appear in any International Olympic Committee manual.
Add to this the continuing limits on foreign reporters in China and daily acts of repression in general, and we see that despite the Games — and despite the Sichuan earthquake — Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) grip on political freedoms remains as tight as ever. In other words, China hasn’t changed.
But there is a real chance that Taiwan is changing, too, and not for the better.
Its new envoys now fail to speak against injustice. Worse, as Taiwanese negotiators are feted in restaurants and palaces in Beijing, they could become complicit in the crimes that are perpetrated against China’s minorities and dissidents. This would make Taiwan no better than other countries that, for their own reasons, choose to look the other way when Beijing fails to meet the most basic standards of responsible and competent government.
Taiwanese, recognized the world over for achievements in democratization, should not be willing to sacrifice this reputation so that ideologically driven officials can cross the Strait and compromise standards of decency and accountable governance.
To sully Taiwan’s accomplishments over a distant promise of better political relations with Beijing — assuming Beijing would keep any of its promises, which is naive — is an act of shamelessness that will become increasingly difficult to rationalize when the the consequences of selective cross-strait opening become clear to the average voter.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) expressed “deep concern” over the staggering rise of COVID-19 cases in India, and offered to supply medical equipment and vaccine doses to the country, but his overtures sparked debate in India’s academic and political circles about his sincerity to help, particularly as it was followed by a vulgar display of schadenfreude over the hundreds of thousands of cremations of deaths caused by the virus in the country. The vast majority of Indians were already angry and frustrated with Beijing needling the country on a number of issues, including imports from China, which were abruptly stopped
Determined to keep a permanent grip on power, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has abandoned former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s (鄧小平) dogma of “hiding our capacities and biding our time” along with the “peaceful development” line that prevailed under former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). Instead, he is treading a “wolf warrior” path of diplomacy that resorts to coercion, debt entrapment and hostage-taking. Externally, Xi’s China has claimed that it would never seek hegemony, yet it challenges the free, rules-based international order wherever it can. While insisting that it will not export its ideology, it has
As the US’ mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues at a record pace, one question under debate is what the administration of US President Joe Biden should do with its extra doses — and especially where to send them. One country that should be at the top of a donation list is Taiwan, in recognition of the help that it provided to the US at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. After weeks of pressure, the Biden administration announced that it is now “looking at options to share American-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses.” By summer, it is clear that anyone in the
Recent news has not been good for the image of Taiwan’s police. After a questionable arrest and detainment of a music teacher in Taoyuan made the headlines last week, news broke that officers at Songshan Precinct’s Zhonglun Police Station in Taipei allegedly deleted security footage showing a group of men storming into the station and damaging a computer on April 16. While the video incident is still being investigated, a group of people on Monday night released hundreds of cockroaches into a restaurant where Taipei’s voluntary police force was hosting a banquet. The guests included senior officers such as Taipei Police