Despite signs the Chinese authorities are allowing unprecedented access to information about next month’s elections in Taiwan, Beijing remains intransigent on certain issues it regards as lines in the sand and it is taking action to ensure that its control remains unchallenged.
A senior editor at Caijing (財經), an independent Beijing-based publication that focuses predominantly on finance and politics, was recently invited by the Lung Yingtai Foundation in Taipei to visit Taiwan for a month to experience the elections, said Bruce Jacobs, a professor of Asian languages and studies at Monash University in Australia and a specialist on Taiwan.
Founded in 2005 by a group of entrepreneurs and intellectuals, the foundation is committed to fostering cultural exchanges, intellectual dialogue and enlivening a positive civic spirit within a democratic framework. The foundation has previously invited Chinese academics and journalists to visit Taiwan on cultural exchanges.
However, the senior editor’s application to visit Taiwan was rejected by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), Jacobs said.
Undaunted, the editor, whose identity could not be revealed for this article, decided to travel to Taiwan via Hong Kong. Within 48 hours of the editor’s arrival, the TAO had reportedly faxed a document to the magazine’s office asking it to explain what the editor was doing in Taiwan.
The office’s quick reaction raises the possibility that Chinese agents have been closely monitoring the activities of the foundation, or that someone in Taiwan alerted the authorities in Beijing to the senior editor’s arrival in the country.
Such monitoring on behalf of China would not be unprecedented.
In late September, Central Police University associate professor Wu Chang-yu (吳彰裕) was arrested for providing China’s Ministry of Public Security with information on the movements of Chinese dissidents in Taiwan.
The magazine had originally planned to run an article on how Taiwan’s democracy evolved, Jacobs said, adding that the foundation’s invitation to the senior editor was part of that effort.
However, ostensibly as a result of pressure from Beijing, Caijing has now canceled its coverage of the election until after Jan. 14, saying the subject is “too sensitive.”
The magazine, reputed for its hard-hitting investigative journalism and occasional criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has reportedly become the target of some factions within the ruling party, as some consider the magazine a tool of their enemies ahead of the 18th CCP Congress.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the foundation denied it had invited anyone from Caijing to visit Taiwan, saying the TAO’s decision to turn down a visa application by a reporter could be the result of the quota system regulating the number of Chinese journalists allowed in Taiwan.
The Taipei Times has been unable to determine whether the senior editor is still in Taiwan.
Jacobs himself appears to have become a victim of pressure by Chinese authorities on the magazine.
Early last month, a “commissioning editor” at the magazine approached Jacobs and asked him to write a “full and frank” article on Taiwan’s elections, with some emphasis on how Taiwan democratized.
“I asked [the editor] about the question of censorship and was assured they wanted the bold truth,” Jacobs said by e-mail. “With these assurances, I prepared a version and ... the only place I held back was in not calling the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) regimes ‘colonial.’”
The commissioning editor made a few suggestions and Jacobs submitted a slightly modified version, he said, adding that at no point was there any indication of censorship.
However, the magazine informed Jacobs on Tuesday that it had not published the article because of the “sensitiveness of the election.”
Jacobs believes the article, like Caijing’s coverage of the elections, is likely to be published after the elections take place.
VITAL INDUSTRY: A war in the Strait would be a catastrophe, as Taiwan ‘lies at the heart’ of the world’s semiconductor industry, the magazine’s report said The government yesterday welcomed international attention on Taiwan’s security, saying that China is to blame for threatening regional stability, after a report by The Economist called Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.” The report is featured on the cover of the magazine’s latest issue, which depicts the nation as the epicenter of a US-China rivalry. The cover shows Taiwan in a radar display with dots crossing the Taiwan Strait accompanied by a Chinese flag and dots nearing the east coast with a US flag. The US maintains a “one China” policy, while maintaining relations with Taiwan, but such “strategic ambiguity is breaking
HIGH-RISK GROUP: After the latest outbreak, family members of workers exposed to infection would from tomorrow be eligible for government-funded vaccines The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four local COVID-19 cases: three family members of an infected worker at a quarantine hotel and a family member of an infected pilot. The new cases bring the number of infections involving China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) pilots and the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, where many of the airline’s crew members quarantined, to 24. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said three of them are the husband, son and daughter of case No. 1,129, a woman in her 60s, who works at the hotel. The son is in
NEXT STEP? The contract chipmaker said it would decide whether to add more plants based on operation efficiency, cost economics and demand Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to build several more chipmaking fabs in the US state of Arizona beyond the one already planned, three people familiar with the matter said. TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, announced in May last year that it would build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. The 12-inch wafer fab in Phoenix is expected to start mass production in 2024, the Investment Commission said in December, when it approved the plan. Three sources familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that up
VIRUS CURBS: Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan is banned until May 17, the CECC announced The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday banned visits to patients or residents at healthcare and long-term care facilities in three cities until May 17. It also reported six imported cases of COVID-19 and two cases with unclear infection sources. As the number of locally transmitted cases rises, some of whom have visited many places in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, enhanced disease prevention measures have to be implemented in the three cities, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and