Posts tagged ‘Taiwan’

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Lin Rong-san, 1939 – 2015

Lin Rong-san (林榮三), publisher of the Liberty Times (自由時報, a Chinese-language paper) and the Taipei Times (an English-langugage paper), died on Saturday afternoon local time, according to Radio Taiwan International (RTI).  He was 76 years old (or 77 years old, by Chinese standard).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Japan, Netherlands: “Shared Concern” about “China’s increasing Maritime Activities”

Japan and the Netherlands have agreed to building a strategic partnership, reports Dutch news website Nu, with ANP material. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte wound up a two-day visit to Japan on Tuesday. In talks with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Rutte reportedly expressed support for Japan’s legislative authorization for more military involvement in international conflicts.

Both premiers also emphasized the significance of a “peaceful solution” for the conflict in the East China Sea, where both China and Japan claim possession of the Senkaku Isles. Abe and Rutte “share the concerns that unilateral actions such as display of power and rising tensions could lead to in the region.”*)

Beide premiers benadrukken daanraast het belang van een “vreedzame oplossing” voor het conflict in de Oost-Chinese Zee, waar China en Japan beiden het bezit claimen van de Senkaku-eilanden. Abe en Rutte “delen de zorgen die eenzijdige acties, zoals machtsvertoon, en oplopende spanningen met zich meebrengen in het gebied”.

Rutte also complimented Japan for the progress the country had made in the field of human rights, after the Second World War.

Rutte complimenteerde Japan daarnaast met de vooruitgang die het land sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog heeft geboekt op het gebied van mensenrechten.

In addition,  the two leaders discussed a number of global issues, such as the war in Syria, the situation in Ukraine, and the nuclear threat in North Korea.

Daarnaast bespraken beide leiders een aantal globale onderwerpen, zoals de oorlog in Syrië, de situatie in Oekraïne en de nucleaire dreiging in Noord-Korea.

Cooperation between the two countries also covers internet security, agriculture and horticulture, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, and on health- and pension problems with an aging population.

De samenwerking tussen beide landen richt zich ook op internetbeveiliging, land- en tuinbouw, de Olympische en Paralympische Spelen in Tokio in 2020 en op gezondheids- en pensioenproblemen bij een vergrijzende bevolking.

According to Nu, more than 120 companies and research organizations traveled with Rutte’s delegation.

According to a joint statement, published here by Japan’s foreign ministry,

The two leaders share the importance of the rule of law for the international community including the freedom of navigation and overflight over the high seas, and stress the importance to settle disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law. They share concerns caused by any unilateral actions, including the threat or use of force and coercion, that change the status quo and raise tensions in the East and South China Sea. They support the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the rapid conclusion of the negotiations to establish an effective code of conduct in the South China Sea.

The joint statement also demands that all sides in the Ukraine conflict

fully implement their commitment under the Minsk agreements to solve the conflict in eastern Ukraine peacefully, respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They remain determined never to recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and will continue to support Ukraine to advance its reforms, aimed at strengthening and modernizing Ukraine for the benefit of its citizens. The two leaders reaffirm that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 must be held to account and that all States should cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability, as demanded by Security Council resolution 2166.

The statement also addresses Syrian and North Korean issues.

Radio Japan reported on Tuesday that [t]he leaders of Japan and the Netherlands have expressed their shared concern about China’s increasing maritime activities.

Radio Japan’s reporting is also quoted by Sina Corp, but apparently only on its Taiwanese website, and drawing on Taiwan’s CNA newsagency:

After holding talks, prime minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Dutch prime minister Rutte issued a joint statement. Although its content doesn’t mention mainland China directly, but is targeted at mainland actions in the East China Sea and South China Sea.




*) For the wording, according to the prime ministers’ joint statement, see para (5) there.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Must-Ask Question: China’s Missiles targeting Taiwan

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou as saying in a press conference after his meeting with Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping that he brought up the issue of Chinese missiles aiming at Taiwan. According to Ma, Xi said that the missile deployments were a comprehensive arrangement and not targeted at the people of Taiwan [「部署是整體性,不是針對台灣人民」].

RTI also quotes from a Central News Agency (CNA) interview with the founder of a Canadian military magazine, Kanwa (漢和防務評論), Andrei Pinkov (平可夫). Pinkov reportedly said that clearly, China’s missiles, and land and naval forces were targeting Taiwan.

To expect Beijing to remove these deployments would be difficult:

[Pinkov] said, if you want the removal of missiles be implemented, the mainland will certainly demand the building of mutual military trust. “If there’s no trust built, how can the missiles be removed?” Also, where to store the removed stuff? Just a while ago, the mainland has announced to cut 300,000 military staff. That needs to be digested. If you make more cuts, how should they deploy the staff?


Pinkov said that although most of the international community viewed the Ma-Xi meeting favorably, but, he concluded, if this was really followed by the two sides establishing some military interaction, America might increase its restrictions on arms sales to Taiwan, and Japan, too, could become more vigilant about Taiwan. All these were problem Taiwan could face [under such circumstances].




» More sophisticated, Jamestown, April 1, 2010


Friday, November 6, 2015

An Interview on “Huanqiu Shibao”: the too-optimistic Expert

It’s being said time and again, in the Chinese media, that the Ma-Xi meeting in Singapore tomorrow has “milestone significance” (有里程碑式的意义). With neither glorious economic growth rates nor more former colonies’ returns to the motherland to report in the evening news, it seems that the Singapore meeting came almost like a last straw for the great-expectations propaganda.

This interpretation, of course, would be an exaggeration. But the CCP’s publicity behavior sometimes does look desperate. If there’s no countdown to the return to the motherland as was the case with Hong Kong and Macau, try Taiwan, even if you do not know the day or the hour.

And there’s desperation on the other side of the strait, for sure. Not in the DPP headquarters, but at the KMT’s. That’s probably not the only reason for Ma Ying-jeou to meet Xi Jinping. There’s reason to believe that consolidation of a “peace and stability” trend in the bilateral relations is on Ma’s mind. But if the KMT was faring better in the election campaign, maybe there wouldn’t be a meeting of this kind on Saturday.

Huanqiu Shibao published an interview with a retired diplomat, Hu Zhongle (胡中乐), on Wednesday. [Update 20151107 »Ersatzlink] Hu is on the board of an association of particular authors, the Old Diplomatic Service Cadres’ Writing Association (外交部老干部笔会, or in short, 外交笔会). He’s also a blogger.

Hu Zhongle praises former party secretary Hu Jintao who had “lost no time”, after the KMT’s electoral defeat in 2005 [Hu Zhongle seems to confuse the 2005 local elections with some other elections here], and had invited Lien Chan (KMT) and James Soong (PFP, the KMT’s Shining Path), to Beijing, in their capacities as party leaders.

Obviously, it was impossible for Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping to meet as party leaders, as Ma wasn’t the KMT’s chairman. Meeting as “two cross-strait leaders”, rather than with formal titles, would avoid conflict with the “one-China principle”, and help to consolidate the achievements in the cross-strait relations of the past years, said Hu Zhongle.

Asked if Ma’s meeting with Xi would help the KMT in catching up to the DPP, Hu said that the effect would be rather limited. The long-standing military confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had come to an end, and the concept of “Taiwan independence” had become “history”. When people [in China, that is] heard about the DPP, they associated the party with Taiwanese independence, but the DPP had adjusted its strategy.

In fact, there was no Taiwan issue [or Taiwan question, 台湾问题] anymore, said Hu. There should be no ambiguity [on the part of Beijing] concerning the “one-China principle”, said Hu. Citing a CCP management philosophy from the late 1990s (抓大放小, i. e. focusing on the management of big enterprises and decentralizing or macro-controlling small and medium-sized ones), he suggested that on smaller issues, far below the “one-China threshold, Beijing could adopt a constructive stance. Even military cooperation with Taiwan was conceivable, given its strategic position near the South China Sea.

Hu wasn’t terribly precise in what he said, but he added to a feelgood atmosphere. Or might have, if he had talked to a normal newspaper rather than to one that caters to a fairly nationalistic readership.

The verdict of the commentariat – at least if you go by the more recent ones – appears to be near-unanimous:

Intellectuals are too optimistic about the issue. (知识分子,看问题太乐观)

What Mr. Hu says is simply bullshit. (胡中乐先生说的简称“胡说”。)

[A suggestion that the “expertise” came across as dim] (这专家姓胡名扯,字瞎说,号忽悠!)

Blindly optimistic!” [太盲目乐观了!]

and a comment with more detail:

To say that the “Taiwan question is no longer a problem”, I believe an extreme mistake, and harmful talk. The DPP holds on tightly to Taiwan independence, and ruling Ma doesn’t want unification, clinging to the Republic-of-China zombie. clamoring about a sovereign and independent Republic of China. Besides, he sides with Japan to oppose the mainland, serving as America’s and Japan’s running dog. I’m asking you – is this “not a problem”? Are you saying that we need no reunification? [“台海问题已不是问题”,我认为这是极端错误和有害的言论。民进党死抱台独党纲不放,执政的“马不统”死抱中华民国的僵尸不放,叫嚣台湾是主权独立的中华民国,并且,亲美友日反大陆,充美日走狗,请问,这不是问题吗?难道不要国家统一了吗?]

Not least (this could be read as an answer to the management of big and small enterprises, or priorities, as mentioned by Hu Zhongle):

If you don’t solve America, the Taiwan issue will never be solved! [不解决美国,台湾问题就始终是个问题!]

The Huanqiu readership isn’t necessarily representative for the more general Chinese public. But it would be premature to think that the meeting in Singapore would automatically add to the CCP’s publicity capital. It may also increase the publics appetite for yet more patriotic glory, or lead to dangerous disappointment when Taiwan doesn’t play along with the screenplay from Beijing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Summit Ma Ying-jeou – Xi Jinping on Saturday

Chinese state chairman and party secretary general Xi Jinping and Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou are going to meet in Singapore on Saturday, reports the BBC, adding an analysis by Cindy Sui.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This Week (2): If you are Chinese today, can you become Taiwan’s President?

Probably not. But then, especially in Taiwanese politics, everything depends on definitions. If you think – and publicly state – that there is one China with different interpretations (一中各表), and if you add that this means that China is in fact the Republic of China (RoC), and that the constitution doesn’t permit a concept of two Chinas, that might work for a president, or for a presidential candidate, especially when your opponents are in disarray. That was the case with the (governing) DPP when Ma Ying-jeou himself was elected RoC president, in 2008. Back then, and in an article that didn’t necessarily describe Taiwan’s legal status accurately, the Washington Post referred to the president-elect as a smooth Harvard law graduate.

There’s a problem with Chineseness in Taiwan however when your opponents are well-organized and pretty much in tune with the majority of the country. And there’s a problem when you, as a candidate, are anything but smooth. Her Hong Hsiu-chu‘s political career was, but apparently, she owed that to herself, friends, and her wider family, rather than to her party, the KMT. And she is said to be very outspoken – that makes for a difficult relationship with a party that is hardly known for non-conformism.

There’s also a problem with Chineseness in Taiwan when you create the impression that you can’t wait for Taiwan’s “reunification with the mainland”, with mottos like one China, one interpretation (一中同表). Yes, you can afford some non-starters when there is no real opponent, as was the case for Ma Ying-jeou from about 2005 to 2010. All the same, telling an international audience via CNN that Taiwan would never ask the American to fight for Taiwan was too smooth to become acceptable.

Tsai Ing-wen, the oppositional Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) nominee, has managed to convince much of the centrist political spectrum in Taiwan that she is not, like former president Chen Shui-bian, a “troublemaker”. In 2011, during her first candidacy for presidency, then against incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, she acknowledged the Republic of China’s significance for Taiwan, even if Taiwan had its own history. That was on October 10, Taiwan’s national day. This year, she agreed to an invitation by legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng to attend the official “double-ten” celebrations.

In this context, Hung Hsiu-hong became the actual “radical” in the election campaigns, and her apparent closeness to China only helped Tsai.

Just how much the KMT is in disarray can be seen from this well-meant, but delirious advice as from the KMT-leaning China Post in summer this year:

The Taiwanization faction is wrong. Hung’s China policy can be a weapon with which she can fight Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the DPP who bears its standard. Tsai is far outdistancing Hung, according to polls conducted by pro-Taiwan independence think tanks. Instead of attempting to copy the DPP’s pro-Taiwanization stance, Hung can try to narrow Tsai’s lead by telling eligible voters that her policy is to build a roadmap to eventual Chinese unification. She has to only explain it is a Chinese version of the Commonwealth that is an evolutionary outgrowth of the British Empire and that relations between the Republic of China in Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China would be like those between the United Kingdom and Canada or Australia or New Zealand.

This read as if Kang Youwei had been at work again.

To cut a long, miserable story short: yes, you can (become Taiwan’s President if you are Chinese today). But not if you are too Chinese.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The KMT could live with losing the RoC Presidency …

… but it can’t put up with a Hung parliament. Hence, Hung Hsiu-Chu (洪秀柱), the KMT’s presidential nominee, might be ousted.



» The Rise and Fall, Brian Hioe / New Bloom, Oct 5, 2015


Friday, October 2, 2015

Leadership Styles: No Meeting without Substance

The Taipei Times compared Pope Francis‘ and Xi Jinping‘s leadership styles: the Chinese traveller to America was outwardly strong and internally weak, while the Roman-Argentinian was the exact opposite, the paper wrote in an online article on Tuesday. As a man who kept close to the public, was met with large crowds of people wherever he went and held Mass for almost 1 million people, the Pope had been a perfect example of soft power.

That was a bit like lauding a model mineworker for churning out tons of coal every day, and criticizing a goldsmith for not doing likewise – or vice versa.

Soft power abroad? Quite a number of Chinese people – especially Chinese people with some exposure to foreign cultures and hurt feelings – may long for it, and the Economist logically threatened Xi with something worse than criticism: neglect. But the politburo could care less. As long as the results are satisfactory – and as long as people at home can be made believe that Americans (not just at Boeing) could hardly wait for the Chinese visitor, everything is staying the desirable course.

But what are the results?

The two sides reached broad consensus and achieved a number of positive results, Ta Kung Pao (Hong Kong) wrote on Sunday:

According to a list published by the Chinese ministry of commerce on September 26, the major consensus and results reached by the two sides can be counted as 49 points, fitting into five big categories. Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle and did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibet independence”, “Xinjiang independence”, and that America would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs.*)


According to Xinhua reports, Xi Jinping made important suggestions concerning the next stage of Sino-American relations, emphasizing the need to promote Sino-American relations that would always develop along the correct track. The two sides agreed to continue efforts to build Sino-American great-power relations of a new type. He [Xi] also emphasized that the Chinese nation was highly sensitive about matters concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He hoped that America would scrupulously abide by the relevant promises, not to support any action aimed at harming China’s unity and stability.


In this regard, Obama, on his own initiative, reiterated that America maintained the one-China principle, scrupulously abided by the principles of the three Sino-US Joint Communiqués, and that this position would not change. America did not support “Taiwan independence”, “Tibetan independence”, and “Xinjiang independence”, and would not get involved in Hong Kong affairs. This is the second time after denying American connection to Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central”, during the APEC summit last year, that Obama stated his position.*)


The 49 projects, results and consensus concern the five great fields of Sino-American great-power relations of a new type, practical bilateral cooperation, Asia-Pacific affairs, international affairs, and global challenges. Among these, nearly twenty negotiation points pertaining to financial and trade cooperation and the Sino-American Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), awaited by all circles, have made progress. The information published by the Chinese ministry of information pointed out that both the Chinese and American leader had reiterated that to reach a high-level investment agreement was “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and that both sides had agreed to strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work.


The Chinese achievement list unequivocally mentions: “The two countries’ leaders reiterate that to reach a high-level investment agreement is “the most important economic issue between the two countries”, and both sides agree to “strongly push the negotiations and to accelerate the work, so as to reach a mutually beneficial, double-win, high-level investment agreement”.


China Institute of International Studies researcher Yang Xiyu says that this position [held by] the two heads of state was of historical significance, meaning that the world’s biggest developed and the world’s biggest developing country could, as fast as possible, achieve BIT, and that the world’s two biggest economic entities achieving BIT will raise the long-awaited effects, further solidifying the foundations of mutual trust in trade.



Within the list of achievements, several points of consensus have been reached concerning Sino-American network security cooperation, such as China and America agreeing that each country’s government must not engage in, or knowingly support, the stealing of intellectual property rights, including trade secrets, and other classified trade information. China and America committed themselves to jointly define and promote appropriate standards of international society conduct on the internet, and to establish a high-level, joint dialogue system between the two countries, to strike at cyber crime and related issues. A number of American experts said that this was an important outcome of this [Xi] visit, and that strengthening cooperation about network security was a really important field of work in Sino-American relations. Indiana University professor and high-level Council of Foreign Relations network security researcher David P. Fidler believes that the two countries’ having achieved this consensus is “of major significance, and welcome news”.


The two sides will also strengthen anti-corruption cooperation, strengthen high-speed rail cooperation, strengthen cultural exchange cooperation, and reach consensus in reaction to global challenges, broaden practical cooperation on bilateral, regional and global levels, and manage and control differences and sensitive issues in a constructive manner, continuously achieving new positive results.


A benevolent label for these outcomes could be progress, and an accurate one would be unverifiable progress. It’s sort of obvious that Washington and Beijing wouldn’t issue a snafu statement at the end of the talks. What Beijing might consider a real achievement, however, is the prevention of an exchange of sanctions in the wake of the “network security”, i. e. hack-and-spy, controversies. That doesn’t go without saying – news coverage during late summer pointed to a chance that this could happen.

Hong Kong website Fenghuang (or Ifeng), in an article on September 22, attributed much of the success in defusing the conflicts to a visit by a delegation to Washington from September 9 to 12:

China attaches great importance to Sino-American relations and their future development, and does not ignore the concrete problems that occupy America.


From September 9 – 12, politburo member and the central committee’s political and judicial committee secretary Meng Jianfu visited America in his capacity as Xi Jinping’s special envoy, together with [a delegation of] responsibles at offices for public security, the judiciary, network communication, etc.. He had talks with secretary of state John Kerry, homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, national security adviser Susan Rice, and other central [US] authorities, to exchange views about cyber crime and other outstanding problems, and to achieve important consensus. Meng Jianzhu’s trip broke with old habits. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s diplomacy has become more direct and more practical.

9月9日至12日,中共中央政治局委员、中央政法委书记孟建柱以 习近平特使身份,率公安、安全、司法、网信等部门有关负责人访问美国,同美国国务卿克里、国土安全部部长约翰逊、总统国家安全事务助理赖斯等核心部门举行 会谈,就共同打击网络犯罪等突出问题深入交换意见,达成重要共识。中央政法委书记作为特使,打破以往惯例,习近平治下的中国外交更加直接务实。

That, and some more soothing soundbytes from Beijing, appeared to have had their effect on Washington, suggests Fenghuang:

On September 16, Obama made remarks about cyber security again, but according to Reuters, America will not impose sanctions on so-called “cyber attacks” before Xi Jinping’s visit, and maybe not afterwards either.


After all, the main goal of the Obama administration had been to put pressure on Beijing, and to address domestic complaints, the Fenghuang article believed.

What looks credible – because it’s said to be long-established practice anyway – is that whatever consensus was indeed there between Washington and Beijing had been reached before Xi Jinping even set foot on American soil.

When he reached the American West Coast from Beijing, he meant business, not soft power – although there’s probably something charming to a 300-aircraft order form, at least among the stakeholders. The traditional microcosms were also conscientiously cultivated, even if Winston Ross of Newsweek was not convinced:

[Xi Jinping’s] handlers, who had corralled me and the reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times for the previous hour in anticipation of this exchange, apparently assumed we all spoke Mandarin. The Times reporter shot me a bewildered look. I shrugged. Xi said something to Oregon Governor Kate Brown that she found hilarious. We asked for a transcript of his remarks. We were not given one.

That occasion, Xi’s first stop – i. e. the meeting with American governors and Chinese provincial governors -, wasn’t (much) about substance, Ross alleged. He could have known better, even without translation: maintaining contacts between many layers of business and politics – not just the top echelons – is both a Chinese move to keep contacts going even if top-level relations between China and another country should deteriorate. Besides, while Confucius Institutes and other means of  indoctrination soft power may face some scrutiny at federal or central governments of democratic countries, regional authorities may lack the resources that such scrutiny would require.

Chinese central leaders waste no time with unsubstantial meetings. They waste no time with soft-power ambitions either. It’s the technology, stupid.



*) VoA has a somewhat different take on this: according to their newsarticle on Wednesday, Obama referred to both the Three Joint Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act, and that had been the only public remarks made about Taiwan during Xi’s state visit in Washington. Ta Kung Pao omitted the mention of the TRA.



» Joint Press Conference, White House, Sept 25, 2015
» Six-point proposal, Xinhua, Sept 25, 2015



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