It would be tempting to blow the matter out of proportion, or to turn what remains an isolated incident into signs of a conspiracy. However, this does not mean that we should look the other way in cases like that of Ni Zichuan (倪子川), a Chinese official at the Fengze District office in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, who was caught stealing skincare products in Hsinchu on Friday.
Ni is believed to have twice stolen from the same store, pinching products with a total value of NT$198. Although this is a minor offence by any yardstick, his behavior fits a pattern in which a growing number of visiting Chinese have acted in a manner unbefitting of civilized people. There have been occasions when Chinese tourists simply refused to pay for meals at restaurants, and last year, Ma Zhongfei (馬中飛), a Chinese businessman, was caught taking pictures in an off-limits area at an army recruitment center in Taipei.
These are only the cases when the wrongdoers were caught.
What is troubling about the latest incident is that it involves a Chinese official. If visiting government employees cannot be bothered to set an example, how can we expect ordinary tourists to behave? It would be interesting to hear what Ni has to say about the reasons why he felt compelled to steal. Did he do it just because he could, or was this, like the Ma case, an attempt to determine how the Taiwanese authorities would react (and in the process show that Chinese usually get away with it)?
This type of conduct stems from the sense of entitlement that some Chinese have toward Taiwan. When a government official has no compunction in stealing from an ordinary merchant and faces little consequence in the host country or upon his return to China, it sends a signal that it is permissible to steal from Taiwanese. While it is true that the majority of visiting Chinese do not see things that way, all it takes is a minority — among those in power, especially — to turn this sense of entitlement into theft on a grand scale.
For the sake of good cross-strait relations, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has bent over backwards to avoid criticizing China. This excessive patience, however, has at times bordered on obsequiousness, which in some hardline Chinese circles could be construed as subservience and capitulation. Add to this Han nationalism and the colonial tendencies of the Chinese government and it would be perfectly acceptable to plunder Taiwan the same way the Tibetan plateau has been raped since the Chinese invaded in 1959.
As Taiwan tests the waters with its new, closer relationship with China, balance is necessary and this is what has been missing under Ma’s guidance. It is generally accepted that in the name of good neighborly relations, Taiwanese should not be too sensitive and should try not to overreact to every misstep Chinese visitors make. This does not mean, however, that they should roll over when someone steps on their back.
When Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清), visiting Tainan in October 2008, lost his balance and fell, elderly demonstrators who allegedly “swarmed” him faced criminal charges. This type of behavior was unbecoming of Taiwanese, we were told, and would not be tolerated. However, in no way should this make stealing military secrets from Taiwan, or snatching products from hard-working Taiwanese merchants, any more acceptable.
If Taiwanese are to be prosecuted for minor “crimes,” so should Chinese tourists, as should everybody else, regardless of color, language, rank or religion. No one should be given preferential or extraterritorial treatment. Doing so will only invite in the wolves.
Despite the complicated legacy of colonialism, relations between Taipei and Tokyo continue to blossom in these troubled times. As East Asia continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and struggles to contain an increasingly aggressive China, our democratic archipelago benefits from a new high in its security relations with Japan. Remarkably, with its generous vaccine diplomacy and the unprecedented explicit mention of the situation surrounding Taiwan in Japan’s annual defense white paper, Tokyo began to embrace a novel, two-track, comprehensive approach for engaging Taiwan. The first track deals with non-traditional security such as public health and vaccine donations. Japan has generously supported
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]