Over the years, Chinese authorities have relentlessly attempted to prevent Taiwan from joining international organizations lest this give Taipei the sovereign legitimacy that Beijing considers anathema to its “one China” principle.
Although such behavior has made it impossible for Taiwan to have its voice heard in international forums like the UN or the WHO, Beijing’s object was ostensibly the symbolism of Taiwanese participation rather than the practicalities and benefits that Taiwan would derive from membership.
Despite superficially warmer ties between Taipei and Beijing since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) launched his cross-strait lovefest two years ago, Chinese officials have often overlooked the “goodwill” they are alleged to have showered on their Taiwanese compatriots by continuing to deny Taiwan international breathing space. This has targeted symbols of Taiwanese nationhood, such as a delegation of moviemakers at the Tokyo International Film Festival in late October attending under the name “Taiwan.”
However, behind such headline-grabbing acts of insanity lurk several instances of Chinese officials impeding Taiwanese efforts in a different sphere altogether: the economic sector. This is often the result of Chinese officials at the local level pressuring governments by raising the specter of Chinese “anger.”
By virtue of their proximity to and growing dependence on China, developing countries in Southeast Asia — Cambodia, to name a recent example — have often yielded to such pressure, leading to delays in the establishment of Taiwanese trade missions there.
Meddling of this type touches on matters of economics, as if it were illegal for Taiwan to trade with regional economies. The object here is not the signing of free-trade agreements or other measures that could be construed by Beijing as conferring sovereignty upon Taiwan, but rather the fundamental right of human beings, regardless of their race or nation, to seek economic prosperity through trade.
We could, for the sake of generosity, show forbearance to officials in Phnom Penh and attribute their dishonorable behavior to their position of weakness vis-a-vis Beijing. Where magnanimity is less easily summoned, however, is when officials in rich countries — say, state governors in the US — engage in similar acts of prostration to appease Beijing. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon canceling a trip by a business delegation to Taiwan this month after the Chinese consul general for the Midwest hinted that the visit could be being misinterpreted in Beijing and “endanger” plans for China to start using Lambert St.-Louis International Airport for cargo shipments, was just the latest in a growing list of disgraceful weakness by politicians who, unlike their Cambodian counterparts, cannot reasonably be considered to be in a position of weakness.
Even more deplorable is that these officials are seemingly being cowed by Chinese officials who are, as far as we can tell, freelancing and not acting on directives from Beijing. That the stern officials in Zhongnanhai would spend their days plotting against every trade and business agreement between Taiwan and other countries is difficult to imagine; Beijing has far too much on its hands to waste time and energy ordering officials to counter every such endeavor.
We seem to have entered an era where state governors, mayors and officials in the world’s most powerful nations can be browbeaten by lowly Chinese officials who are slightly overzealous in their nationalistic entrepreneurialism. It’s one thing (though by no means more excusable) to think twice when threats of Beijing’s “anger” come out of Zhongnanhai itself, it is another entirely when the messenger is a local fraud with delusions of grandeur.
If we are to resist growing Chinese encroachment in every aspect of our lives, we’ll have to learn to say no. A good place to start would be with such miscreants.
When I was in Ukraine filming for an upcoming documentary, I was surprised at how frequently my mind naturally tended to map Ukraine’s war experience onto Taiwan, where I have lived for the past 10 years. There are obvious parallels of an imperial nuclear superpower asserting itself over a smaller non-nuclear state, but there are also small mundane things that would impact everyday life. When I saw Ukrainian elderly people filling jugs of water at a church in sub-zero temperatures and hauling it back to their homes which might not have electricity, I imagined the difficulty of a Taiwanese senior
This is the Year of the Dragon. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese government announced that “dragon” is to be translated as long (龍), in a move meant to erase the supposed negative connotations of dragons. In many Western cultures, dragons are often seen as wicked or demonic. This is not just a mere linguistic adjustment. It is symbolic, representing a change in China’s current political culture. Under the overbearing leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the Chinese government has been undergoing a cultural policy of “de-Westernization.” Although this change in semantics is just one of many
For millennia, stratagem and deception have been baked into Chinese strategic culture and statecraft. So it is imperative to consider the risks of Chinese deception regarding theater or tactical nuclear weapons of under 5,000 kilometer range. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Chinese military experts who contributed to the eventual Sunzi Bingfa (孫子兵法), or The Art of War, attributed to Master Sun, had concluded that “All warfare is based on deception.” Often referenced in the West as if reduced to cliche, Sunzi Bingfa is of paramount importance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA). This fact goes far to
An online petition started by a doctor in Taichung called on lawmakers to halt an amendment that would shorten the time needed for Chinese spouses of Taiwanese to gain citizenship in Taiwan. The amendment could put a strain on Taiwan’s already burdened National Health Insurance (NHI) system, Cheng Ching Hospital thoracic surgery division doctor Tu Cheng-che (杜承哲) said. Doctors have seen many Chinese spouses bring their relatives to hospital emergency rooms, asking for full checkups, he added. “They [Chinese spouses] even tell their relatives that healthcare in Taiwan is free and is easily accessible, and that healthcare providers in Taiwan