Beijing’s media mouthpieces in Hong Kong last week reported that China is planning to create a list naming “die-hard Taiwan independence activists,” and that those on the list would be “severely punished” and “held accountable for as long as they live.”
On Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said that “they and their financiers” and other supporters would be “cracked down on in accordance with the law,” although “the legal rights and interests of the wider population of Taiwanese compatriots” would be fully protected.
With threats and division, in addition to military pressure, Beijing has now added this trick to its arsenal of “united front” tactics, a trick it first tried in May 2018.
At that time, Beijing also used red media outlets to make it known that it was gathering names for a list of Taiwan independence activists, and the TAO said that “everyone who has walked this path will leave a footprint.”
China’s official media outlets made Taiwan independence playing cards that included images of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and then-premier William Lai (賴清德). All the talk about name lists was treated as a joke, and eventually died out.
Then, at the end of 2018, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a great defeat in the nine-in-one local elections. Perhaps those in charge of the anti-Taiwan effort felt that it was thanks to their activities and decided to use the same old trick now, as they are increasing verbal attacks on Taiwan.
China has implemented the Hong Kong National Security Law. The way the legislation defines “patriotism” and “one country,” the promotion of democracy as instigating unrest and democracy activists as “Hong Kong independence activists,” and indiscriminate arrests mean Beijing has in effect implemented a rule of terror in the territory.
The suppression of Hong Kong whetted Beijing’s appetite, and it is now aiming its sights on Taiwan.
In the past, it used the “one country, two systems” ruse as it held up Hong Kong as an “example” for Taiwan. Destroying Hong Kong and using the catastrophe that has befallen Hong Kongers to intimidate Taiwan is just another way of using the territory as an “example.”
By adding the word “die-hard” to the list’s name this time around, China is clearly differentiating a minority from the rest to intensify division within Taiwan.
“Die-hard” implies a deeply held view and strong resistance to change.
One good way for China to find out who these “die-hard Taiwan independence activists” are would be to look at the Mainland Affairs Council’s opinion polls, which go back a long time: They make the independence and unification tendencies among Taiwanese very clear.
The council polls ask respondents if they want independence as soon as possible; want to maintain the “status quo” for the time being and then move toward independence; want to permanently maintain the “status quo”; want to maintain the “status quo” for the time being and then decide between independence or unification; want to maintain the “status quo” for the time being and then move toward unification; or want unification as soon as possible.
Over the past 10 years, an average of just about 10 percent have answered that they want to maintain the “status quo” for the time being and then move toward unification or want unification as soon as possible.
Those who want independence as soon as possible or want to maintain the “status quo” for the time being and then move toward independence initially remained at an average of more than 20 percent during the same period, but in the past few years has increased to more than 30 percent.
According to Beijing’s standards, anyone who does not advocate unification is overtly or covertly pro-independence.
If those who want to maintain the “status quo” permanently are combined with those who advocate independence, the total exceeds 50 percent.
If those who want to maintain the “status quo” for the time being and then move toward independence are also added, the figure goes up to 80 percent.
Deducting those who have not indicated a preference, the remaining non-unification group of between 50 and 80 percent represent long-standing mainstream opinion.
Cross-strait relations have seen significant changes over the past 10 years, from the time of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who opened the door wide to China, to the Tsai administration’s opposition to China and protection of Taiwan.
China’s approach has also differed from soft to tough.
However, public opinion polls have not changed much, and it is those who for so long have been overwhelmingly unwilling to support unification that make up the die-hards that China is now warning.
However, with a strong awareness of identity, Taiwanese society’s response to this “die-hard Taiwan independence activist” list has not been the shock that China would have hoped for; instead it has been seen as a badge of honor proving one’s love for Taiwan.
Representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) has said that if Taiwanese are being treated as someone who should be attacked and killed just because they yearn for liberty and democracy, then “we should all cry out: I am a proud supporter of Taiwan’s independence.”
When China’s state-owned media named Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and said that “the world has long known about his wicked Taiwan independence activities,” his clear and succinct response was that “to work for this country, to serve its people, is the highest honor, and I will protect this country and its people and will not give in to force.”
Beijing’s attempts to put pressure on Taiwan have always received the opposite response to what it expects. China’s state-owned media have upped the ante, saying that anyone on the list who visits another country, would be undertaking “a dangerous journey.”
This has received the same response as the Hong Kong National Security Law, as it has been ridiculed for being “an imperial order to the peoples of the world.”
In response to the changes in Hong Kong, many democracies have abolished their extradition treaties with Hong Kong.
If Beijing takes the same approach to Taiwan and demands that the rest of the world comply, it would extend the Taiwan Strait issue to the rest of the world and become the target of an even even greater backlash.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “Taiwan has not been a part of China.”
The statement made China jump with anger, but there was nothing it could do.
Pompeo followed up by saying: “And that was recognized with the work that the [former US president Ronald] Reagan administration did to lay out the policy that the United States has adhered to now for three-and-a-half decades and done so under both administrations. No, I actually think this is, in fact, bipartisan.”
While the US has not been very explicit in the past because of its policy of maintaining strategic ambiguity, it has now turned over a new leaf and become very explicit.
As Pompeo said, this is a policy that has been in place for the past 35 years. This is also a die-hard approach.
The people that Beijing wants to hold “accountable,” as they say, are not just Taiwanese activists or politicians, but a majority of all Taiwanese, and even the governments of the US and other democracies.
Being everyone’s No. 1 enemy must be China’s worst nightmare.
Translated by Perry Svensson
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
In terms of the economic outlook for the semiconductor industry, Taiwan has outperformed the rest of the world for three consecutive years. This is quite rare. In addition, Taiwan has been playing an important role in the US-China technology dispute, and both want Taiwan on their side, reflecting the remaking of the nation’s semiconductor industry. Under the leadership of — above all — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the industry as a whole has shifted from a focus on capacity to a focus on quality, as companies now have to be able to provide integration of hardware and software, as well as
US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific region will have huge repercussions for Taiwan. The US Department of State in the final weeks of former US president Donald Trump’s term took several actions clearly aimed to push Biden’s foreign policy to build on Trump’s achievements. Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the final day of the Trump administration that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang was welcome, but comes far too late. The recent dropping of “self-imposed” restrictions on meetings between Taiwanese and US officials was
In memory of Diane Baker: one of the last working dance journalists, a true dance aficionado and dear friend. On Friday, through a mutual friend, I received the shocking news that dance critic Diane Baker had passed away suddenly at her apartment in Tianmu, Taipei. The news quickly spread, and messages of concern quickly swarmed in from the dance community in Taiwan and abroad. Her sister Sharon in the US later confirmed that Diane died of a heart attack on Wednesday last week. She was 65. Diane was a dear friend to Taiwan’s dance community. Her frequent appearance at dance performances in