Thursday, April 20, 2017

President Tsai Dodges Another Cross-Strait Bullet

A Chinese activist’s attempt to defect to Taiwan earlier this week could have shaken the careful balancing act that has prevailed across the Taiwan Strait since May 20 last year

The decision by the Taiwanese government earlier this week to deny political asylum to a Chinese dissident who had left his tour group at the weekend may have saved the Tsai Ing-wen administration serious headaches amid a controversy surrounding the detention of a Taiwanese rights activist in China. 

At first glance, Zhang Xiangzhong’s attempt to obtain asylum in Taiwan looked like a straight-up case of a Chinese dissident seeking freedom from authoritarian rule in China. The 48-year-old civil rights activist from Shandong Province claims he had served three years in jail after taking part in the New Citizens Movement (he was arrested in July 2013). Upon his release in July 2016, Zhang says he was under constant surveillance by the Chinese security apparatus. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TFD Hosts 2017 Community of Democracies Youth Forum

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies today opened the 2017 CoD Youth Forum at TFD headquarters in Taipei, bringing together young human rights activists and academics from around the world to discuss the many challenges facing democracy 

Titled “Strengthening Youth Participation in Democracies Worldwide,” the three-day workshop is one of the first CoD events to focus specifically on youth and their role in democracy. 

Nearly 40 speakers and participants, from countries as varied as Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan, Mongolia, Mexico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Gambia, Morocco, Pakistan, the U.K. and the U.S., are taking part in this year’s workshop. Among the participants from Taiwan are Lin Fei-fan, Wei Yang, Poyu Tseng and Jennifer Lu. 

Among the topics discussed at the panels are “Security and Democracy: Extremism, Cultural Bigotry and the threats to Democracy,” “Unbalanced Globalization: Impact on Democracy,” “Effective Youth Participation – The balance between social movements and political participation,” “Global Youth Solidarity for Democracy,” and “Establishment of a Youth Pillar.” 

Continues here.

Trends in Physical Violence and Assaults on the Press

Physical violence and denial of access to members of the press are two tactics that have been used with alarming frequency in recent months by civic groups bent on blocking legislation proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party 

Same-sex marriage and pension reform are two pieces of legislation that have resulted in escalatory action since late 2016 by civic organizations that are primarily associated with the pan-blue camp. In the former case, conservative Christian organizations have spearheaded efforts to block a marriage equality bill; in the latter, retired personnel, as well as deep-blue organizations such as the Blue Sky Alliance, have led the movement. While marginal, the Alliance has a track record of disruptive behavior and physical violence against officials. 

Continues here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry Proposes High-Tech Weapon Deployments on Taiping Island

As tensions rise in the South China Sea, Taiwan could deploy new high-tech weapons on an island it controls

Due to a changing security environment in the South China Sea, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has reportedly made 17 specific proposals to bolster Taiwan’s defensive capabilities on Taiping Island, one of the largest islets in the disputed area. Among the new weapons recommended for deployment are small and medium unmanned aerial vehicles as well as the new indigenously developed Coastal Defense Rocket System (CDRS) and the automated short-range XTR-102.

Continues here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

US-China Relations after Mar-a-Lago

Not much substance, but the two leaders agreed to a new framework for dialogue 

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, held their first face-to-face meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6-7. Despite being upstaged by U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian airbase suspected of involvement in chemical attacks on civilians earlier in the week, the highly anticipated summit seems to have achieved most of what the two leaders were looking for. The only thing to come out of the two-day summit was a commitment by the two sides to talk some more. Furthermore, the two sides agreed to implement a US-China Comprehensive Dialogue, to be overseen by the two presidents, which will consist of four pillars: diplomatic and security; economic; law enforcement and cyber security; and social and cultural issues. 

My analysis of the Xi-Trump summit, published today by the Prospect Foundation, continues here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Is President Tsai’s Handling of the Lee Ming-che Case Adequate?

We shouldn’t expect the Tsai government to burst out guns blazing on the Lee case, as to do so would only spring the traps set by elements in China who are uncomfortable with the current equilibrium in the Taiwan Strait

The case of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese human rights and democracy advocate who has been missing in China since March 19, took another turn yesterday after Chinese authorities revoked the travel permit of Lee’s spouse, Lee Ching-yu, before she could board a plane to China to see her husband. 

Lee Ming-che was nabbed on March 19 after attempting to enter Zhuhai, in Guangdong Province, via Macau. The State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) has since said that Lee was detained for “endangering national security.” Chinese authorities have yet to provide any details as to which laws he may have broken, though it is suspected that his arrest may have occurred under the recently passed Foreign NGO Management Law, which severely constrains the ability of foreign NGOs to operate in China. 

Continues here.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Creative Ideas for Conflict Resolution in the Taiwan Strait Must be Based on Facts: A Response to Liu Yawei

If a just solution is ever to be found to the hugely complex dispute in the Taiwan Strait, its foundations will have to rest on the facts, not on illusion or the wishes of CCP decision makers 

In an article published in the Diplomat on 4 April, Dr. Liu Yawei, director of the China Program at the Carter Center and founding editor of the U.S.-China Perception Monitor, proposes five areas in which U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, could cooperate after their groundbreaking meeting in Florida later this week. 

While there is much to agree on his first four “doables,” which among other things call for Beijing and Washington to work together in resolving a variety of global challenges, from trade to territorial dispute, his last point, which is specifically on the Taiwan “issue,” presents a picture of the trilateral relationship that unfortunately has much more in common with the Chinese Communist Party’s wishes than with reality, a fact which weakens the potency of Dr. Liu’s “doable” as a means to shed light on, if not resolve, the longstanding dispute. 

My article, published today in CPI Analysis, continues here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Can President Xi Score Points on Taiwan at Mar-a-Lago?

The leaders of the world’s two most powerful countries will meet in Florida on April 6-7. Among the many issues they will discuss, Taiwan’s status and longstanding American commitments to it are expected to be raised. We look at what President Xi is likely to ask for, and whether he can hope to obtain any concessions from the American president

As U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, prepare to meet at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday and Friday this week, many have wondered whether Mr. Xi will press the issue of Taiwan and, if he does so, whether he can obtain anything from Mr. Trump. 

What is almost certain is that Mr. Xi will raise the matter, if only to assess where Mr. Trump stands on the status of the democratic island-nation. At minimum, Mr. Xi hopes to leave Florida with assurances that Mr. Trump is no longer questioning the wisdom, if we can call it that, of the “one China” policy, a longstanding U.S. policy that, as president-elect, Mr. Trump said it might no longer be advisable to follow. Coming on the heels of a precedent-setting 10-minute telephone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in early December 2016, Beijing certainly had reason to believe that the political maverick could indeed upend the very foundations of the trilateral relationship that had existed since Washington established official diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1979. 

Continues here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Lee Ming-che disappearance in China causes fears among Taiwan NGOs

Whether they are the result of new regulations in China governing foreign NGOs, the application of vague national security measures, or factional politics in the lead-up to an important CCP congress later this year, two incidents in late March suggest that it may be getting increasingly dangerous for NGO workers and activists to visit China 

The disappearance and detention of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese rights activist and staff member at Wenshan Community College in Taipei, by Chinese authorities last month could have a chilling effect on the willingness of Taiwan-based human rights workers and NGOs to put their personal safety at risk by operating in China. 

Continues here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

China’s New Terror Campaign Against Foreign Opponents

A wave of disappearances in recent years could be part of ongoing efforts by Beijing to further insulate China from external influences 

Amid a tightening of ideological controls in Xi Jinping’s increasingly paranoid China, the country’s security apparatus appears to have launched a campaign of targeted disappearances against foreign activists and academics to further insulate China from external influences and deter potential interlopers. 

Beijing’s belief that external forces are trying to destabilize China is nothing new. From protests in Tibet to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have often stated — without ever producing convincing evidence — that foreign elements were behind the unrest. Foreign governments, institutions such as the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and media moguls critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have all at some point been accused by Beijing of conspiring to cause trouble within China. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why Strengthening the Taiwan-Japan Alliance Makes Perfect Sense

Taiwan-Japan security cooperation is not only logical; it is essential 

Amid uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump’s plans for US engagement in the Asia-Pacific, it makes sense for states with a longstanding dependence on American security guarantees to consider alternative measures to ensure they retain the ability to defend themselves against regional challengers and revisionist powers. 

Like other states situated on the peripheries of the global US security architecture that has prevailed since the end of World War II, Taiwan has greatly benefited from American support, particularly in countering the territorial aspirations of rising powers. 

Absent continued US political and military support for vulnerable 'peripheral' states, the logic goes, revisionist powers like China, Russia and Iran may be tempted to resolve a longstanding dispute through use of force. The latest iteration of such behavior was Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which many believe occurred in large part due to Moscow’s conviction that the American leadership, along with European states and NATO, did not have the appetite for a fight over Ukraine’s territorial integrity. 

My article, published today in the Lowy Interpreter, continues here.

Beijing Leans on Nigeria to ‘Fully Implement’ ‘One China’ Policy, Avoid ‘Two Chinas’

The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria is calling upon Abuja to ensure the ‘full execution’ of the ‘one China’ policy 

During a visit to Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) this week, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian, accompanied by Deputy Ambassador Jing Lin and Political Officer Peng Chen, lamented that Nigeria had not fully implemented its “one China” policy and called on the oil-rich African country to meet its part of the bargain. 

Following the announcement of a pledge by Beijing of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects in Nigeria, Abuja announced in January that Taiwan’s representative office in the capital was to be downgraded and relocated to Lagos, the country’s commercial center. Due to pressure from Chinese authorities, “diplomatic privileges” and staff at Taiwan’s mission were also to be curtailed. 

Continues here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

MND Confirms DF-16 Medium-Range Ballistic Missile Deployed Against Taiwan

The ballistic missile threat against Taiwan just got more serious

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense today confirmed for the first time that China has deployed and is targeting the island-nation with the advanced Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) ballistic missile. 

The DF-16, a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with an estimated range of 800-1,000 km, is believed to be maneuverable and may carry multiple warheads (Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicles, or MIRV), according to a MND report to Taiwan’s legislature this morning. Due to the higher altitude it must reach before descending towards its target, the faster re-entry of a medium-range missile also poses additional challenges for tracking and interception and could overwhelm Taiwan’s PAC-2/3 air defense systems. 

Continues here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Taiwan to Increase Defense Spending, Improve Military Capabilities

With the DPP controlling the legislature, Taiwan could finally succeed in setting defense spending at 3% of GDP, something that hasn’t occurred since 1999. But will that be enough to ensure it can defend itself? A look at the Ministry of National Defense’s latest QDR 

Taiwan will increase defense spending to nearly 3% of GDP and acquire a series of new capabilities to deter China, Ministry of National Defense (MND) officials told the legislature upon the release of the ministry’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) on Thursday. 

Mandated by the National Defense Act, the QDR provides an update on military readiness, planning and strategy, and must be made available within 10 months of a presidential inauguration. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Fall Of Ma Ying-jeou

The belief that those in power are using the court system to punish their opponents bespeaks a deep cynicism about Taiwanese politics 

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Tuesday indicted former president Ma Ying-jeou over allegations that he abetted a leak of classified information during an investigation against an opposition lawmaker in 2013. 

Ma, of the Kuomintang party (KMT), was in office from 2008–16. According to the court, his actions were in violation of the Communication Security and Surveillance Act, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Criminal Code. In September 2013, State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming reportedly provided Ma with transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the KMT and Ker Chien-ming, a senior lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), collected as part of an ongoing investigation into influence peddling at the Legislative Yuan, the nation’s parliament. 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Beijing Counts on Handful of Allies in Taiwan to Keep Propaganda Drive Alive

With the KMT still struggling to get back on its feet and the Tsai administration not giving an inch on the ‘1992 consensus’ and ‘one China,’ Beijing now counts on smaller parties and civic groups to reinforce those notions with the Taiwanese public. 

One of the classic ingredients in the recipe for political propaganda is repetition — convince your opponent (or erode his resistance) through the sustained reinforcement of a notion, or create new facts by saturating the environment with signals that reinforce the message. With its ideological allies in Taiwan, Beijing is intensifying its propaganda work on the so-called “1992 consensus” and “one China” in an effort to convince the Taiwanese public that their welfare depends on the government’s embrace of both. 

Continues here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis: The Forgotten Showdown Between China and America

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the Missile Crisis of 1996, when China fired missiles off the northern and southern tips of Taiwan and held large-scale military exercises to intimidate the Taiwanese ahead of the country's first-ever direct presidential election. Much of that history, and the lessons learned, is forgotten. In the new regional order, what does this mean for Taiwan, and what role can it play in a part of the world that is now bristling with ballistic missiles? 

Twenty-one years ago this week, as Taiwanese were readying to hold their country’s first direct presidential election later in March, China flexed its military muscles by holding a series of military exercises and firing missiles within thirty-five miles off the ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung, causing a panic in Taiwan and prompted U.S. President William J. Clinton to deploy a carrier battle group to international waters near Taiwan. 

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, as the events came to be known, disrupted naval shipping and commercial air traffic, causing harm to Taiwan’s economy. Amid fears of a possible invasion—fuelled by planned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercises simulating an amphibious assault and live-fire exercises near the outlying island of Penghu—Taiwanese scrambled to reserve seats on flights to North America. 

My article, published today in The National Interest, continues here.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Should President Tsai be More Flexible Toward China?

Calls for punishing Taiwan due to its unwillingness to recognize the ‘1992 consensus’ have gotten louder ahead of a CCP leadership reshuffle in the fall. That National Congress is exactly the reason why President Tsai should stick to her guns for the time being

A number of politicians and academics from the pan-blue camp have in recent months argued that President Tsai Ing-wen should show some flexibility toward China by acknowledging the so-called “1992 consensus,” a highly symbolic formulation that Beijing has insisted upon for the resumption of normal cross-Strait interactions. 

Following President Tsai’s inauguration on May 20 last year, Beijing ramped up its pressure on Taipei to recognize the “1992 consensus” — a construct that under President Tsai’s predecessor was seen as a conduit for interactions between the two sides — and acknowledge “one China.” In the absence of such recognition, Beijing has ostensibly refused to engage in official interactions with Taipei (though talks using other channels have not ceased altogether) and has implemented a series of “punitive” measures to undermine Taiwan’s economy. 

Continues here.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Avoid the Vicious Circle

The greatest impediment to ‘peaceful’ unification in the Taiwan Strait is the consolidation of a distinct system of beliefs and values in Taiwan, irrespective of political affiliation. Pro-unification groups want to break that bond and thereby weaken Taiwan’s ability to resist

Every year around “2.28” — the day on which the massacre of thousands of Taiwanese by Kuomintang (KMT) forces in 1947 is commemorated — the raw emotions on both sides of the historical divide come to a boil, resulting in excess of rhetoric and the occasional incident. The more passionate voices on either end of the political spectrum have used this period of remembrance to highlight a longstanding animosity between the “green” and “blue” camps. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Yes, President Tsai is Stalling on Marriage Equality

President Tsai met supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage on Saturday, and claims that more dialogue is needed on the issue. By doing so, the president creates a moral equivalence that simply does not exist

President Tsai Ing-wen at the weekend held meetings with both opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage at the Presidential Office and asked Vice President C.J. Chen to chair a platform for dialogue between the two sides over an issue that has caught the attention of the international community in recent months as Taiwan moves closer to becoming the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions. 

In a post on her official Twitter feed on Feb. 18, President Tsai wrote that, “Today I met with reps from both sides of same sex marriage issue. Resolving differences is a start — more dialogue & understanding needed.” 

Continues here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Do Chinese Students Threaten Free Speech at Universities Abroad?

Nationalistic PRC student groups abroad are becoming increasingly vocal when it comes to academic institutions inviting critics of the CCP. Whether they succeed in eroding the West’s traditions of freedom of expression will be contingent on how universities respond

Imagine a group of foreign students at, say, Fudan University in Shanghai or Peking University in Beijing organizing a campaign to prevent a former Chinese official or academic known for his pro-regime views on Tibet or Xinjiang or Taiwan from giving a lecture at the university. Worse, a foreign embassy in Beijing or consulate in Shanghai were in contact with the group of students and compelled them to threaten the university because foreign officials had “serious concerns” about the event and the ideology of the invited speaker. 

It’s not difficult to imagine what the consequences would be for those students in China, and that is why the scenario above is, under the prevailing circumstances, unimaginable. 

Continues here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

India Brushes Off Beijing’s Warnings Over Visit by Taiwanese Parliamentarians

Beijing continues to pressure Taiwan’s non-official diplomatic allies into avoiding official contact with representatives from the democratic island-nation. By ignoring China’s demands, India sets an example that should be emulated by other sovereign states

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned India to respect China’s “core concerns” and “prudently deal” with Taiwan after a delegation of academics and businesspeople led by three female Taiwanese legislators visited India earlier this week. 

“We hope that India would understand and respect China’s core concerns and stick to the ‘one China’ principle and prudently deal with Taiwan-related issues and maintain sound and steady development of India-China relations,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media, referring to “so-called legislators from Taiwan.” 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Misconceptions on ‘One China’

From ‘one China’ to the ‘1992 consensus’ and the ‘status quo’, the politics of the Taiwan Strait are a complex play involving vagueness and word games by all the parties involved. And given the high stakes, the international community must get those terms right. 

“One China” has figured prominently in the news in recent weeks, first following President-elect Donald Trump’s remarks to the effect that the U.S. might choose not to be bound by the “principle” and then, as president, when he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to abide by it during a telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week. And every time “one China” makes it in the news, expect that some people will get it wrong. 

It would be unfair, however, to only blame the media for failing to understand the wording, nature, and ramifications of “one China,” the policy — the usually vague wording which guides a country’s relationship with both the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan — and the principle, which is what Beijing insists on. Academics, and even government officials on the “Greater China” desks all over the world, often get it wrong as well. 

Continues here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump Vows to ‘Honor’ ‘One China’ Policy

By returning to the status quo, President Trump may temporarily have assuaged apprehensions in Beijing and reduced tensions in the Taiwan Strait

U.S. President Donald Trump had a “lengthy” telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday night and agreed to honor the “one China” policy, according to a press statement by the White House. 

“President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China had a lengthy telephone conversation on Thursday evening,” the press release stated. “The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy.” 

Continues here.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

China to ‘Commemorate’ Taiwan’s 228 Massacre

The CCP’s latest exercise in propaganda is unlikely to win hearts and minds in Taiwan, but nevertheless indicates greater willingness on Beijing’s part to criticize the KMT 

Taiwan Affairs Office Spokesman An Fengshan told a regular press conference on Wednesday that China will hold a series of events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 228 Massacre in Taiwan. 

An did not specify what the commemorative events will be, or where they will take place. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Will it Happen?

Disagreement between the Executive and Legislative branches of government on the legalization of same-sex unions in Taiwan is slowing down progress on the issue and advantages opponents 

Taiwan has received a fair amount of media attention in recent months, in large part due to the famous telephone conversation between President Tsai and U.S. president-elect Trump in early December. But another development has generated quite a lot of interest as well, even among media organizations that normally would pay little heed to this island-nation. With a bill slowly climbing its way up inside the legislature, Taiwan has come to be regarded as the likeliest candidate to becoming, perhaps as early as this year, the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. 

After several months — years, in fact — of battles in the trenches, members of Taiwan’s LGBTQI community and their supporters who had gathered outside the legislature had every reason to be euphoric on December 26 when the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee reviewed and passed a proposed amendment, initiated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu, that would rephrase the contents of Article 972 of the Civil Code which stipulates that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. In a concessionary move, committee members agreed to retain the language “between a man and a woman” while adding a clause recognizing “both parties to a same-sex marriage.” 

Continues here.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Cambodian PM Bans ROC Flag, Reaffirms ‘One China’ Stance

As Chinese influence in Cambodia continues to grow, Prime Minister Hun Sen attempts to ingratiate himself with Beijing

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told a gathering of Chinese and Cambodians at the weekend that the “Taiwanese flag” — the Nationalist flag that represents the Republic of China — should not be raised in Cambodia and reaffirmed his strong commitment to the “one China” principle. During his speech to the Cambodian-Chinese Association on Saturday, the prime minister said the flag was to be banned across Cambodia. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why Jiang Yi-huah Will be Able to Talk About Taiwan’s Democracy in Hong Kong

The former Taiwanese premier under president Ma Ying-jeou appears to have slipped through the firewall that has been erected around Hong Kong. But read the fine print 

With relations between Taiwan and China deteriorating in recent years, Hong Kong immigration authorities, ostensibly acting on orders from the central government in Beijing, have denied entry to a growing number of Taiwanese activists, officials, and democracy activists into the troubled former British colony. More rigid still have been immigration controls on individuals wishing to give lectures about democracy in Hong Kong. 

But not so for Jiang Yi-huah, the former premier of Taiwan, who is scheduled to give a talk on Feb. 16 at City University of Hong Kong, College of Business, titled — rather extraordinarily, given the current mood in the territory — “The Successes and Failures of Taiwanese Democracy and Its Meaning.” 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When They Get it Wrong

A bizarre analysis of Taiwan’s delegation to President Trump’s swearing-in ceremony exemplifies everything that is wrong with much of what is written about Taiwan overseas 

Last week I wrote about signs that China may be ramping up its disinformation campaign against Taiwan as part of its psychological warfare efforts to confuse and discredit the democratic island-nation. To do so, pro-Beijing media have been planting “alternative truths” and count on traditional outlets to replicate the information so that over time they become new “memes.” But there’s another element at play that is also detrimental to Taiwan’s ability to be known and understood: downright ignorance passing off as “expert analysis.” 

For various reasons that I have discussed elsewhere, Taiwan hasn’t received the attention it deserves in international media and academic blogs. This changed somewhat following the brief telephone conversation between President Tsai Ing-wen and then president elect Donald J. Trump on Dec. 2 and Mr. Trump’s subsequent remarks concerning “one China.” All of a sudden, and on the assumption that trouble was brewing, Taiwan was “newsworthy” again for international media and think tanks. 

Continues here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

China Intensifies Disinformation Campaign Against Taiwan

Banking on structural weaknesses in today’s media, Beijing has succeeded in broadcasting a false narrative about Taiwan, often on a global scale 

Chinese media and the state apparatus appear to have joined hands to intensify a campaign of propaganda and disinformation targeting Taiwan, with fabrication, half-truths and comments taken out of context aimed at sowing confusion across the democratic nation and undermining its image abroad. 

Although there is nothing particularly new about disinformation campaigns — in fact the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long used this as a tool in and outside China — their utility tends to increase in times of conflict or when a party is not getting what it wants from an ideological opponent, as is currently the case in the Taiwan Strait. 

Disinformation is a key component of political or psychological warfare activity that seeks to weaken the enemy by undermining trust and cohesion across society. Although disinformation can be broadcast using various channels (think tanks, academic conferences, social forums and so on), mass media are the principal means of diffusion and the practice thrives in societies where journalism is either hampered by authoritarian censorship or, even in more open societies, a poor track record of fact-checking. 

Continues here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

China Goes After Taiwan’s Allies, Official and Not

Given Taiwan’s unusual situation, the erosion of unofficial relationships with key countries could in the long run be more damaging to its survival than the theft of official diplomatic allies. 

Following a visit by China’s Foreign Minister earlier this week, Nigerian authorities ordered Taiwan to move its representative office in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to Lagos, the country’s commercial center, and to curtail “diplomatic privileges” and staff, a move that, besides the insult, presages escalating efforts by Beijing to narrow Taiwan’s international space. 

Beyond the symbolism of seeing its de-facto embassy removed from the capital, Nigerian officials and organizations have also reportedly been ordered to avoid all official exchanges with Taiwan. Consequently, Taiwan’s presence in the oil-rich African country has been relegated to that of a mere trade office, trade being the only exercise that Beijing officially countenances between Taiwan and the international community. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

China Tightens Pincers on Taiwan

While the external threat to Taiwan appears to be growing, Beijing could also increase its cooperation with local proxies to undermine the island-nation’s social stability and discredit its democracy 

Unable to win enough hearts and minds in Taiwan after eight years of closer engagement and unwilling to explore a more accommodating modus vivendi with its democratic neighbor, Beijing in recent months has adopted an increasingly maximalist stance on cross-Strait relations that could mean trouble for the region in the coming years. 

Deep frustrations, coupled with nationalistic fervor, an upcoming party congress in which Chinese politicians vying for key positions within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will feel compelled to demonstrate their intransigence on the Taiwan “question,” and uncertainty regarding the future direction of U.S.-Taiwan ties under incoming president Donald Trump, have led the leadership in Beijing down a dangerous road, one in which the desire to “punish” Taiwan for the choices its people have arrived at by democratic means supersedes the incentives for dialogue and stability. 

Continues here.