Monday, April 23, 2018

Conservative’s Bid for Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage, Sex Education Highlights Democratic Blindspot in Taiwan

Amending the Referendum Act may have been a mistake in a highly politicized environment like Taiwan, where polarization is severe and civil society feels super-empowered. Fringe and intolerant groups now have a tool to hijack policymaking in a way that is detrimental to this nation’s democracy  

Taiwan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on April 17 passed a review of two referendums proposed by Christian-led conservative groups seeking to constrain marriage equality and prevent same-sex education in elementary and junior high schools nationwide. 

This is the latest bid by the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, a conservative group that has spearheaded a campaign against marriage equality in Taiwan. At its core, the alliance opposes revising the Civil Code to permit same-sex marriage, but says it supports a special law to protect the rights of same-sex couples seeking to form a union. For their part, LGBTQ groups and their supporters argue that a separate law for same-sex unions would discriminate against gay individuals. 

Continues here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

For Taiwanese, Democracy is the Only Game in Town — And They Would Fight to Defend it

A new survey shows that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese would take action to defend their democratic way of life if China attacked their country, even as a majority of them are pessimistic about the state of their democracy. We look at the numbers, and respond to critics from the blue camp  

A recent survey by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), a government-sponsored NGO, revealed that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese would be willing to fight to defend their nation’s democratic way of life if China attempted to annex it by force. In the survey, conducted on behalf of TFD by National Chengchi University’s Elections Study Center, 67.7 percent of respondents said they were willing to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. Among people aged 20 to 39, that number rose to 70.3 percent. Willingness to fight dropped to 55 percent if military action resulted from a declaration of de jure independence by Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

China’s Live-Fire Drill in the Taiwan Strait: A Case Study in Psychological Warfare

Despite claims by Chinese hawks that the live-fire military exercise is aimed at Taiwan and that the aircraft carrier ‘Liaoning’ could be involved, there is every indication that the drills are little more than a routine artillery exercise 

The Chinese military will hold live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait today (Wednesday) as President Tsai Ing-wen is on her first state visit to Africa. The announced maneuvers have sparked a frenzy of reporting — and hyperbole — in international media, which as always are on the lookout for high drama. 

Chinese authorities have revealed very little about the nature of the exercise since the announcement. A statement by the Fujian maritime safety administration only indicated that the maneuvers are to commence at 8am and end at midnight. The drills will take place in waters off Quanzhou, Fujian Province, across from Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan Travel Act: Use it Wisely

Recently signed into law by President Trump, the Taiwan Travel Act opens the door for high-level exchanges between Taiwanese and American officials. Substance, not symbolism, should be the key factor deciding who meets whom, where and when 

Since U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month signed the Taiwan Travel Act, a piece of legislation that encourages high-level exchanges between American and Taiwanese officials, reactions in some pro-Taiwan circles have been marked by elation, even leading some to suggest that President Trump himself should break with precedent and visit the island-nation for the opening of the U.S.’ brand new de facto embassy later this year. 

The reception to the Act, a bill 12 years in the making which received bipartisan support in U.S. Congress, is understandable, given that Washington’s longstanding — albeit unwritten — policy of barring senior officials from Taiwan, a democratic ally and key economic partner in Asia, from engaging with their American counterparts was both illogical and undignified. Nothing in the U.S.’ “one China” policy or in the Communiqués prevented such high-level exchanges; the tacit rule was instead an olive branch to Beijing, which over the years succeeded in pressuring U.S. government into avoiding official contact with senior government officials from Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Taiwanese Novelist Wu Ming-yi To Lodge Protest With Man Booker Prize Over ‘Taiwan, China’ Designation

Man Group, the hedge fund manager which sponsors the literary prize, launched a quantitative hedge fund in China last year catering to wealthy Chinese investors 

Well-known Taiwanese author Wu Ming-yi, whose novel The Stolen Bicycle was long-listed for the prestigious 2018 Man Booker International Prize, revealed on his Facebook page this morning that the organizers of the literary prize had changed his country of origin from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China,” a move that he said did not reflect his personal position. 

Wu is one of 13 authors nominated for the prize, the leading literary award in the English-speaking world. According to the official web site, the Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005, biannually rewarding an author for a body of work originally written in any language as long as it was widely available in English. The Stolen Bicycle was first published in Chinese in 2015 and was translated into English by the Taipei-based Darryl Sterk. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Xi Issues Stern Warning to Taiwan, Vows to Defend ‘Every Inch’ of Chinese Territory

An emboldened President Xi had some strong words for Taiwan after President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act into law last week 

Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday warned that Taiwan would be “punished by history” if it attempted to formally separate from China. Speaking at the concluding day of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Xi told the three-thousand-odd delegates that “all acts and tricks to split the motherland [China] are doomed to failure and will be condemned by the people and punished by history.” 

“The Chinese people share a common belief that it is never allowed and it is absolutely impossible to separate any inch of our great country’s territory from China,” he said, vowing to protect “every inch” of Chinese territory. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The CCP is Our Adversary, Not the Chinese People

As the CCP increasingly tries to narrow the space between party and state, and as President Xi erases the line between himself and the party, it will be more important than ever for critics to draw a distinction between the Party and the Chinese people 

Academics and journalists in the past year have begun to uncover activities by China that seek to undermine democratic institutions worldwide. As various aspects of Beijing’s United Front activities abroad are made public, and as governments begin to take the threat more seriously, the Chinese government’s response — and that of many Chinese — has been to depict those investigative efforts as racist, xenophobic and ultimately “anti China.” 

The accusations of racism and xenophobia, of a supposed anti-China sentiment, however, are for the most part unfounded. Through studious accounts of the agencies and organizations involved, the authors of the reports, documentaries and articles that have drawn attention to China’s intense influence operations have drawn a clear distinction between the agents of influence and ordinary Chinese, both in China and as part of the Chinese diaspora. In several cases, the authors are married to a Chinese partner and developed a deep affinity for the Chinese people through years of academic research or journalism in the country. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Great Chinese Lure: A Matter of National Security for Taiwan

A far greater threat to Taiwan than the PLA or pro-unification forces is the potential hollowing-out of Taiwan’s brain trust as China’s economy becomes increasingly attractive to skilled Taiwanese. Taipei has been far too complacent in tackling this challenge and must reverse course before it’s too late 

The unveiling by the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in late February of 31 measures to lure Taiwanese to work in China has renewed fears in Taiwan of a potentially devastating “brain drain” as young, educated and driven Taiwanese look across the Taiwan Strait for career opportunities. 

Beijing’s new strategy, which involves 12 incentives related to business and 19 to social and employment issues, is the latest in a long list of efforts over the years to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese while increasing the economic interdependence between the two sides. Like similar efforts before it, the strategy relies on a deterministic view of the world, whereby material benefits are seen as a means to shape non tangibles such as political and ideological beliefs, as well as self-identification. The ultimate aim, which Beijing has made no secret of, is to break support for Taiwanese independence or the “status quo” and to engineer desire for unification under “one China.”  

Continues here.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Who’s to Blame for the ‘1992 Consensus’ Impasse?

Beijing’s intransigence, and not Taipei’s refusal to fall into a trap, is the source of instability in bilateral relations 

It has become a common refrain since sometime in 2016 that relations between Taiwan and China have deteriorated due to the Tsai Ing-wen administration’s refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus.” However, that formulation not only stems from a cognitive bias that is unfair to Taiwan, it also suffers from amnesia and ignores Beijing’s stated long-term aims. 

According to this unquestioned rule, President Tsai’s refusal to abide by or recognize the “1992 consensus” is the reason why tensions have risen in the Taiwan Strait since her election in January 2016, why Beijing has “license” to punish Taiwan, and why the two sides — at least reports claim — no longer use official high-level channels to communicate with each other. Leaving alone the fact that the “consensus” was, by his own admission, invented by the Kuomintang’s (KMT) Su Chi in 2000, this formulation also imposes a baseline, a natural state from which departure bad things have necessarily happened in the Taiwan Strait. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

228: Trauma, Memory and the Birth of a Nation

The 228 Massacre is sacred ground — a graveyard out of whose soil a nation emerged. And for many, it was an original sin for the Nationalists. How much should be remembered? Should anything be forgotten? 

Trauma is the furnace of nations, an incident or series of incidents spanning months, years and sometimes decades that creates a “before” and “after,” and which transforms primary matter into, as Thomas Aquinas would phrase it, a “substantial being.” For Taiwan, the series of nationwide massacres that was unleashed on Feb. 28, 1947, followed by four decades of authoritarian rule known as the “White Terror,” marks the period in the nation’s history when its otherness became not only fact, but a necessity, a matter of survival. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Xi Jinping’s Power Grab Creates Systemic Instability

Lifting the term limits for the Chinese president could increase the likelihood of a coup d’etat in China 

The China-watching punditry has been aflutter since the not entirely unexpected announcement on Sunday that China was dropping the term limits for president, a move that would conceivably open the door for President Xi Jinping — arguably the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong — to stay in office indefinitely. 

This development, which has already prompted parallels with Russia’s persistent autocrat Vladimir Putin, has led some to argue that that Emperor Xi, as some now dub him, would use the extra time accorded him by the constitutional change to further consolidate the power necessary to tackle endemic corruption and push economic reform. Others of a more pessimistic inclination see this as a power grab that will lead to greater repression inside China, which under Xi has already reached levels unprecedented in decades, and a higher likelihood that China will flex its muscles to grab territory in the East and South China Sea, as well as the top real-estate prize — Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lufthansa, British Airways Give in to Chinese Pressure, List Taiwan as Part of China

Two more carriers now list Taiwan as part of China on their web sites as Beijing threatens fines for ‘violations’ to advertisement and cyber regulations 

Chinese pressure on global companies has scored more successes in recent days, with Taiwanese netizens discovering in the past week that German carrier Lufthansa and British Airways are now listing Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” and “Taiwan (China)” respectively on their web sites. 

The changes, which have sparked anger among many Taiwanese, follows similar incidents involving various brands in recent months, including Qantas, Delta Airline, Zara, Marriott International and Medtronic. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Top Chinese Military Strategist Bemoans KMT’s Lack of Commitment to Unification

Members of the Kuomintang who visit China are ‘lying and eating and drinking’, a Chinese military strategist argues 

Speaking in a recent interview, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Major General Zhu Chenghu reserved harsh words for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the party in Taiwan that, according to the narrative, is supposed to be Beijing’s “natural ally” in promoting the unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. 

“Today’s KMT is no longer the KMT of yesterday,” Zhu, a military strategist and former dean of China’s National Defense University, told reporters, adding that party members who visit China and ostensibly support unification are all, in reality, doing little more than “lying and eating and drinking.” 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Congress Is Right to Stand Up for Taiwan

A bill that would allow exchanges between senior US and Taiwanese officials is making its way in Congress, sparking some push-back by China and some critics in academia 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed the Taiwan Travel Act on February 7, 2018, a bill that would permit exchanges and visits by senior Taiwanese and American government officials. Seen by Beijing as a ploy to undermine “one China,” the bill has also attracted criticism by some American academics, who regard the move as “unnecessary” and “provocative.” 

Bill H.R.535, which the House of Representatives passed on January 9, will now be sent to the floor of the U.S. Senate. If it becomes law, it would “allow officials at all levels of the United States government, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts,” and mark a milestone in relations since the United States shifted official diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China in 1979. 

Continues here.

Friday, February 09, 2018

China Unleashes ‘Rough Power’ as Taiwan Deals with Deadly Quake

Internet ultranationalism and political calculation are poisoning whatever ‘goodwill’ China has shown for Taiwan as it handles the aftermath of a powerful earthquake in Hualien. And this is not the first time the Chinese have engaged in such self-defeating behavior 

It has been trendy in recent months to coin new terms to describe the means by which states wield power to further their interests abroad. As most have been variations on Joseph Nye’s “soft power,” allow me to continue the tradition by coining one of my own to describe one type of power that China has unleashed upon Taiwan following the deadly earthquake that struck Hualien earlier this week: “rough power.” 

The antithesis of “soft power,” rough power uses the state apparatus and the many communication instruments that allow a people to make their presence felt abroad. While “soft power” is meant to win hearts and minds, “rough power” achieves the opposite by alienating the targeted population. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Conflict in the Taiwan Strait: What it Is, and What it Isn’t

International media need to find a better term than ‘rivals’ to describe a situation in which a small democracy is fighting for its survival against the encroachment of a gigantic authoritarian state 

It doesn’t just regularly pop up in “click-bait” headlines, but rears its ugly head in the body of articles as well. Keen on providing a narrative that is understandable to a global audience, international media have often used the term “rivals” — sometimes “bitter rivals” — to describe Taiwan and China (examples here and here and here). Unfortunately, this oversimplification fails to accurately describe the true nature of the conflict in the Taiwan Strait. In fact, it is utterly misleading. 

The descriptor “rivals” would have held true decades ago, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China (ROC), which transplanted itself into Taiwan following the Nationalists’ defeat in the Chinese civil war, still aimed to “retake the mainland” from Mao Zedong’s communists, by force if necessary. During that period, both sides, by then ideological rivals in the Cold War, vied for recognition by the international community as the “real” China (“free China” versus “Red China”), and the two governments were locked into a zero-sum game out of which a single victor could emerge. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Globalizing Taiwan’s Defense Industry

Opportunities exist for much greater cooperation between Taiwanese defense firms and partners around the world. But before this can happen, the Taiwanese government must address a number of issues 

Uncertainty over the willingness of foreign countries to sell weapons to Taiwan, primarily due to pressure by Beijing on the governments and firms involved, concerns over the espionage risks associated with the transfer of high-tech equipment to a partner that is a direct target of Chinese intelligence collection, and the high costs associated with the procurement of high-value foreign defense articles, have compelled Taiwanese authorities in recent years to increasingly look for a domestic solution to meet the nation’s defense requirements. 

As Taipei endeavors to strike a balance between foreign procurement — still indispensable in various areas, not to mention the political symbolism that is inherently associated with the practice — and indigenous development, new opportunities to plug Taiwan’s defense industry into the global supply chain may be arising which could be both beneficial to Taiwan’s self-defense and to its economy. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Beijing Ramps Up Pressure on Foreign Airlines, Firms to Respect China’s ‘Territorial Integrity’

After Delta Air Lines and Qantas, several airlines are coming under pressure by Beijing to remove references to Taiwan as a sovereign entity from their web sites as ultra-nationalism enters a new phase in China 

Several airlines may be be coming under pressure from Chinese authorities to “correct” their web sites and APPs by removing references to Taiwan as a country after U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines was ordered to do so last week and Australian carrier Qantas yielded to the pressure earlier this week. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last week ordered all foreign airlines operating flights to China to conduct a full review of their client information content such as their official websites or APPs to ensure they do not breach Chinese laws. The CAAC has reportedly summoned the representatives of 25 foreign airlines operating in China and demanded their companies remove all references to Taiwan as a country, as well as its national flag, from their web sites immediately. 

Continues here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump’s National Security Strategy and Taiwan’s Changing Security Environment

Despite some positive language in the new National Security Strategy, allies like Taiwan that rely on continued U.S. support cannot afford to sit still and must prepare for various contingencies 

Focusing on confronting undemocratic forces and promoting a balance of power that favors the U.S. and its partners, President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) released on Dec. 18 struck a positive note with many security analysts in Asia who were looking for signs of continued engagement. While only one direct reference is made to Taiwan in the entire document, any signalling that the U.S. intends to maintain, or perhaps increase, its presence in the Indo-Pacific is seen as a positive development for Taipei, whose ability to counter pressure from Beijing is largely contingent on the security umbrella the U.S. has been providing since the end of World War II. 

Continues here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Analysis: China’s New Air Routes Near Taiwan: Why Now? To What End?

Beijing has reneged on an agreement reached with Taipei in 2015, in part to destabilize the Tsai Ing-wen administration and to show who is boss in the region. Given the air safety risks caused by such unilateral moves, the international community cannot afford to remain silent 

The unilateral activation by China earlier this month of four air routes close to the median line in the Taiwan Strait has sparked protests by Taipei and led analysts to conclude that Beijing is ramping up the pressure on the Tsai Ing-wen administration following the conclusion of the 19th CCP Party Congress. 

Four routes — a northbound path for the M503 line and three east-west extension routes (W121, W122 and W123) — were launched without prior consultation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). At its nearest point, M503 is 7.8 km from the median line on the Taiwan Strait and close to the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR). It is also close to a training area for the Taiwanese Air Force. W122 and W123 are close to the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Taiwan Strait in 2018 – Still a Dangerous Flashpoint

While the world’s attention is fixated on North Korea, it would be imprudent to ignore the other dangerous flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific – the Taiwan Strait 

Intensifying activity by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a deepening crisis pitting democratic Taiwan against authoritarian China have ensured that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific. 

At the heart of the conflict is Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, an island-nation of 23.5 million people that, due to history and its geographical proximity to China, has always been caught in the gravitational pull of its gigantic neighbour. For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan is “unfinished business,” a relic not only of the Cold War, when Nationalist-run Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) fell under the US security umbrella in the midst of the Korean War, but also a reminder of China’s humiliation following its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War. That war concluded in 1895 with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, resulting in Taiwan being ceded to Japan until the Japanese Empire was defeated in World War II. 

My article for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute continues here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

How can democracies counter China’s growing clout

Canada must adjust its policies of engagement with China by building upon the knowledge that is accumulating globally 

China is on a mission to provide an alternative to the liberal-democratic order that has underpinned international relations since the end of the Second World War, an order in which Canada is a proud participant. 

Amid uncertainty over the future of the North American free-trade agreement and U.S. global leadership, it is only natural that Ottawa would seek to deepen its relationship with China, the world's second-largest economy and an increasingly important player in international affairs. But as recent cases in Australia and New Zealand have made clear, it is time Canada started paying closer attention to the potential costs to our democracy of engaging authoritarian China, a country that is led by the most successful communist party in history. 

My article, published today in the Globe and Mail, continues here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A U.S. Attack on North Korea: Could China Retaliate Against Taiwan?

Chinese retaliation against Taiwan amid a U.S. military move on North Korea would be an occasion for Beijing to redress two historical wounds inflicted by Washington in 1950 and again in 1995–6 

As it has in much of 2017, the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is likely to haunt Northeast Asia for a good part of 2018. Beyond the immediate issue of Pyongyang’s weapons development is the interlocking nature of the conflict, which under certain circumstances—such as a decision by the United States to use force against North Korea—could spark other contingencies in the Asia Pacific. 

The pivotal actor in all this is China, Pyongyang’s sole benefactor and a rising power in its own right, whose reaction to a U.S.-led war in the Korean Peninsula could determine the future of the entire region. This article does not aim to evaluate the merits, moral or strategic, of taking military action against North Korea to break the logjam. Instead, with the prospects of war seemingly becoming likelier, it looks at the potential repercussions of the Trump administration choosing the military option to resolve the impasse by presenting the problem as the continuation of a conflict, regional in nature, that began when the United States intervened in the Korean War in 1950. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Party Officials Held for Questioning as China-Linked Spy Probe Widens

A handful of individuals from the pro-unification New Party were taken in for questioning in a case that seems to be linked to a spy ring organized by Zhou Hongxu, a Chinese man who was arrested earlier this year 

Investigators today raided the residence of Wang Ping-chung, convener of the pro-unification New Party’s Youth Committee, on suspicions that he may have engaged in activities that compromised national security. 

Armed with a warrant, Taipei investigators seized financial documents and took Wang in for questioning. According to reports, the raid is related to Wang’s possible connections with Zhou Hongxu, a former Chinese student who was detained in March this year on suspicions of recruiting people for a spy ring while enrolled at a university in Taiwan. The Taipei District Court in September sentenced Zhou, who reportedly received his directives from Shanghai, to 14 months in prison for violating the National Security Act. 

Continues here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Taiwan’s Democracy Dodges a Bullet

The attempt to unseat Huang Kuo-chang of the New Power Party highlights troubling flaws with Taiwan’s recall laws, which could become a source of instability in the nation’s democratic processes 

A conservative coalition on Saturday failed in its bid to recall New Power Party Chairman Huang Kuo-chang due to his support for marriage equality. 

Initiated by the Greater Taipei Stability Power Alliance, Saturday’s recall attempt in New Taipei City’s 12th electoral district masqueraded as a move to unseat the charismatic Huang for various reasons, among them that he is “arrogant,” a “populist” who doesn’t listen to the people, and that he spends “too much time at the legislature.” Despite their repeated denials, it is an open secret that the Alliance has cooperated closely with conservative Christian Churches in Taiwan and that their principal objective is to unseat legislators who support same-sex marriage. 

Continues here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beijing’s Orwellian View of Taiwan is Getting Dangerous

The often risible comments by Chinese officials about Taiwan are certainly entertaining, but they signal a dangerous malaise within the CCP, one that should not be laughed at 

The rhetoric used by Chinese officials about Taiwan in recent years has attained such levels of stridency that it has become easy to dismiss it as little more than necessary platitudes, humorous outbursts that briefly make international headlines before life returns to its normal course. 

Whether it is a warning over Taiwan collaborating with foreign powers to defend itself or Beijing’s view of the Taiwan independence movement as a small group of bandits, much of what comes out of official channels in China today is downright disconnected from reality. With their regular confabulatory press briefings, An Fengshan and Ma Xiaoguang, spokespersons for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), have become the Chinese equivalents of regular characters on the Saturday Night Live comedy show. Meanwhile, other officials in China or posted abroad constantly warn of war should Taiwan fail to return the embrace of a jealous and resentful suitor. 

Continues here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Analysis: Chinese Envoy to the U.S. Threatens War Over U.S. Navy Port Calls in Taiwan

While it is unlikely the PLA would invade Taiwan in response to the resumption of regular U.S. Navy visits to Taiwan, Taipei and Washington must weigh the advantages of the largely symbolic move against the possible costs 

Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Minister Li Kexin last week told hundreds of people assembled at an embassy event in Washington, D.C., that calls by U.S. Navy vessels at ports in Taiwan would violate China’s “Anti-Secession Law” of 2005 and automatically spark a military response. 

The blunt messaging on U.S. soil was ostensibly in response to the passage, on Nov. 30, of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act by Congress, which contains language authorizing the U.S. to evaluate the possibility of re-establishing “regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan” and allowing Taiwanese vessels to make port calls at U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) yards. 

Continues here.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Why America Should Beware a Resurgent China

The world is witnessing a new, more assertive phase in China’s foreign engagement under President Xi Jinping 

As it makes its presence felt in every corner of the world and posits an alternative to the Western liberal-democratic order that has underpinned international relations since the end of World War II, China is beginning to experience some of the blowback that other global leaders before it have been met with. And judging from the indignant reactions in some Beijing circles, that backlash was not entirely expected. 

With doubts over the future of U.S. global leadership rising and democracies worldwide arguably entering a period of fatigue, we are witnessing a new, more assertive phase in China’s foreign engagement under President Xi Jinping. China has seen an opportunity to displace an old international system that, in its view, is both unfair and which has outlived its usefulness, and it is now flexing its muscles to make this a reality. 

Continues here.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Making Transitional Justice Work

Institutionalization will be key to ensure the long-term survival of the many agencies that have a role to play in transitional justice, democracy, and human rights protection in Taiwan 

Taiwan took an important step in the consolidation of its democracy with the passing on Dec. 5 of transitional justice legislation that will establish a transitional justice system to address crimes perpetrated by the state during the Martial Law era. 

However, if this milestone is to facilitate its ultimate goal of accountability and reconciliation, it will have to be accompanied by a long-term commitment by the two main political parties — the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) — to institutional reform. Moreover, if transitional justice is simply used to remove symbols of past authoritarianism (e.g., statues of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek or the name of institutions), or if it is seen as a retributive tool to settle old scores with the KMT, then the prospects of this endeavor succeeding will be dim indeed. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lee Ming-che Sentencing a Warning to Others (Analysis)

More than the unfair treatment of a man who did nothing wrong, today’s sentencing is another reminder that China has no intention of playing by international rules. It is also a warning that Beijing has cast a much wider net to silence critics and those, Chinese and not, who propose an alternative system of governance in China

The Yueyang Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan Province today sentenced Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che to five years’ imprisonment for “subversion of state power” and suspended his political rights for two years, a ruling that Taiwan’s Presidential Office and rights organizations worldwide decried as “unacceptable.”

Lee was arrested in March upon entering China via Macau. After disappearing for several months, he resurfaced in court in Hunan Province in September, where he was accused of collaborating with others in China and on social media to “attack the Chinese government” and promote “Western-style democracy.”

Continues here.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

China Bans Tour Groups to the Vatican and Palau, Two Diplomatic Allies of Taiwan

The new directive by the central government is believed to be aimed at forcing the governments to switch diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing. In the Palau case, geopolitics could also be a consideration 

Travel agencies in China received a government directive on Nov. 16 ordering them to cease all tour groups to the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pacific island-nation of Palau, in what appears to be the latest effort to put pressure on official diplomatic allies of Taiwan. 

According to the notice from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), travel agencies that continue to promote tours to those destinations will be severely punished. Two travel agencies have reportedly been fined 300,000 yuan (US$45,000) amid inspections launched by government authorities. 

Continues here.