The lone figure of exiled Chinese author Ma Jian (馬建) being denied entry into his homeland last week should be enough to remind candidates in January’s presidential election of the need to approach China with the utmost caution.
The London-based Ma, whose application to enter China via Hong Kong on July 23 was turned down without explanation from Chinese officials, had previously returned home on several occasions since leaving in 1986. That he would be denied entry at a time when China is, by most accounts, seemingly in the ascendant, is a testimony to the uncertainty that haunts the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) amid domestic turbulence and an upcoming leadership transition.
Needless to say, a party that had full confidence in its ability to rule would not be preoccupied with the arrival of an author, however critical of the regime, on a mission to buy books in Shenzhen before returning to London.
The decision to ban Ma from entering China was in line with an “increasingly harsh” — Ma’s words — political climate in the country, one in which the CCP feels compelled to crush underfoot people like Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) and artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), whose only crime is to have espoused the “dangerous” idea of freedom, or to impose a media blackout on reports about last month’s high-speed rail crash.
It is in this context, one of heightened paranoia and repression, that Taiwan under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is seeking to foster more amicable relations with Beijing. While it is most assuredly not of his making, the unfolding situation in China makes it incumbent upon Ma Ying-jeou to tread carefully in the development of cross-strait relations.
In addition, the tightening of security measures in China is not taking place in a vacuum, as the poison of repression radiates outwards and transforms everything it touches. Only the foolhardy would assume cross-strait relations are impervious to what is happening in China.
The implication is that from cultural exchanges to tourist arrivals, everything will be tainted by “the totalitarian regime’s inability to adapt to modernity and respond to natural yearnings for free expression,” as Ma Jian has said.
Rather than embracing increased liberalism, as Ma Ying-jeou claimed would result from exposure to free and democratic Taiwan, Beijing is seemingly going in the opposite direction. Stronger and wealthier though it may be, China is arguably more repressive today than when Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) entered Zhongnanhai. Years of investment have also resulted in a security apparatus that is far better equipped and efficient than it was a decade ago, enhancing the state’s ability to monitor, control and deny information.
In such an environment, it is highly unlikely that ordinary Chinese, to say nothing of CCP officials, will be in a position to learn from Taiwan’s experience. Or even if they are, there is little if any chance that they would place themselves in a potentially dangerous position by seeking to reproduce it on returning home.
Conversely, Beijing’s threshold of what it deems acceptable behavior on Taiwan’s part is likely to become more exacting, thus increasing the cost of interaction for Taiwanese. As such, unless contact with Beijing is calibrated to reflect the severity of the political situation in China, the immunization of Taiwan against some form of the Chinese flu is unlikely, which bodes ill for our freedoms and liberties. Perhaps even worse, it would provide a tacit seal of approval for a regime that violates the rights of its own people.
There is no need, nor is it desirable, for Taiwan to rush into rapprochement with China. It can afford to wait — and current trends in China make such patience absolutely imperative.
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,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
Just a few days after an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May announced that a domestically produced vaccine against the virus would become available late this month. At the time, even though the government had placed orders for the Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, just 700,000 of the doses had arrived, and many Taiwanese were reluctant to get inoculated, in no small part due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) disinformation campaign about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s alleged shortcomings. Before the outbreak, the government had been successful in keeping the number of infections to a minimum,