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.
It is a plot that could have come straight from the pages of a John le Carre novel. The head of a nation’s secret intelligence service is caught in a honeytrap: captured on camera with a mysterious younger woman at Bangkok International Airport and covertly followed to their hotel. A secret liaison in an exotic location, used to blackmail the spymaster of an adversary, who misappropriated public funds to pay for the clandestine affaire d’amour. This is what the Chinese Ministry of State Security wants people to believe after it used a Thai-language “cutout” Twitter account to release a “leaked” photograph
In a China-US war over Taiwan, paradoxically the greatest loss of life could be inflicted on the Muslim Uighurs. Uighurs constitute 45 percent of the Xinjiang population of 25 million people, with over 1 million incarcerated in internment camps in accordance with a policy initiated under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Another half-million children have been placed in state-run boarding schools. Forced sterilization has led to a 24 to 60 percent drop in the birthrate, leading officials from many countries to describe the mass detention as genocide. Estimated annual death rates in the camps of between 5 and 10 percent could
Starting from November, and in line with recent amendments to the Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance Act (強制汽車責任保險法), electric bicycles (e-bikes) and other small electric two-wheeled vehicles must be licensed with mounted license plates before they can be ridden on the road. This change should resolve some existing problems, such as the difficulty that e-bike owners have faced in receiving help to find their bikes if they are stolen, and the difficulty that road users have in holding anyone accountable when an accident occurs. It would also allow the more than 600,000 e-bikes that are currently being ridden on Taiwan’s roads to
Taiwan is a fully functional democracy with a constitution and democratically elected leaders. Over the past seven decades its political system has matured and it is completely different from communist China. It is consistently ranked as one of the freest countries by the Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders freedom indices, as well as the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom. Taiwan’s economic and political growth has been remarkable. It is one of Asia’s major economies and a leader in the global semiconductor industry. Only 13 UN members recognize Taiwan and about 59 countries, including India, have established unofficial diplomatic relations