As the first hundreds of Chinese tourists begin their tour of Taiwan and onlookers puzzle over the word qiezi (茄子) that precedes clicking cameras, academics and officials on the other side of the Strait are starting to get all kinds of dangerous ideas.
Never mind China’s deployment of more modern surface-to-air missiles that threaten Taiwan’s airspace, or the fact that cross-strait flights are skewed in favor of Chinese airlines and eat into Taiwanese airlines’ income, or that the promises of an economic miracle from Chinese tourism seem to be getting flimsier by the day. Such rapacious behavior on Beijing’s part was to be expected and the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), intoxicated with the promise of better relations with China, seems to have fallen for the hype hook, line and sinker.
Beyond all this, there is now a perception, as reported by Christopher Hughes of the London School of Economics, that Ma has finally adopted Beijing’s views and will do what it wants him to do — that he has become Beijing’s man in Taipei, who will open the gates of the castle and bring about the dream of annexation.
Such thinkers could be forgiven for entertaining this view, since their understanding of politics has evidently been shaped by the authoritarian system that has ruled their society since they were born. But to expect that a single individual in a democracy — even a president — can do what he wants at the expense of the millions of people who voted, and did not vote, for him is confabulatory. It explains why unification will never work — at least not while China remains an authoritarian state.
Despite the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) ill-concealed contempt for the legislature and other branches of government, Taiwan remains a country of laws, with a Constitution that prevents the executive from exercising undue power or its actions from threatening national security. In other words, the KMT for the moment is barred from operating as a party-state.
While the manner in which the KMT has conducted diplomacy with Beijing since May 20 has, by relying on unofficial channels, come close to breaking the law, Taiwanese would never allow Ma to utilize his power in a way that puts the survival of the state in danger. If he did, other officials within the KMT, such as Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), would be expected to intervene; if they did not, the credibility of the KMT as a Taiwanese political party would be dealt a fatal blow.
Despite the flexibility he has shown to date on matters of sovereignty, Ma is not Beijing’s man, some brainwashed Manchurian candidate that can be radio‑controlled to do its bidding. Even if he were, the checks and balances of a democratic system would stop him before he could do irreparable damage to Taiwan’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, the comments made by Chinese academics and officials run the risk of reinforcing the perception that he is a tool of China, which can only make it more difficult for him to exercise his presidential powers.
Even so, vigilance is in order. The president’s every move, along with those of his immediate circle, must be scrutinized, and any indication that he is about to act in China’s interests rather than Taiwan’s should be met with the strongest opposition.
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
In an unprecedented move, a group of democratic nations led by the US, UK and EU in a joint statement on Tuesday accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security of having carried out a major cyberattack earlier this year and stealing data from at least 30,000 organizations worldwide, including governments, universities and firms in key industries. Western officials were reportedly perplexed by the attack’s brazen execution and unparalleled scale. In an article on the attack, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera wrote: “Western spies are still struggling to understand why Chinese behavior has changed.” The attack raises the fear “that they [China]
At the conclusion of the G7 Leaders’ Summit on June 13, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who participated virtually, called for the reform of multilateral institutions as the best signal of commitment to the cause of open societies. His comments are significant in light of China’s ongoing and successful efforts to control international organizations, and, in particular, to keep Taiwan out of critical health agencies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s influence over the WHO is well known. It has used this control to deny Taiwan a place at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO. Taiwan’s absence