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.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Sorry Beijing: States Have Sovereign Rights

Whatever we might say about the Trump camp, they are stiffening American spines when it comes to doing the right thing by democratic Taiwan 

A handful of U.S. officials in the past 24 hours did what many heads of state and ministries worldwide have failed to do in recent years — they reclaimed their country’s sovereign right to decide who to allow into their territory and who to engage with, thus ignoring the warnings of retaliation by Beijing that, far too often, have succeeded in isolating individuals whom China regards as its enemies. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, on her way to Central America, where she will visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador this week, made a stopover in Houston at the weekend, despite a request by Beijing that she not be allowed in the U.S. During her two-day stay in Texas, Tsai met members of the Taiwanese-American community as well as top Republican officials, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz. She also had a telephone conversation with U.S. senator John McCain, head of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. 

Continues here.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Pro-unification Groups, Triad Members Threaten Hong Kong Activist Joshua Wong, Legislators in Taiwan

Brief altercations at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport this morning when pro-Beijing gangsters broke through police lines and tried to assault Hong Kong activists 

About 200 people mobilized by the pro-unification Patriot Association (愛國同心會) and pro-Beijing gangsters gathered at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to protest the arrival of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and pro-self determination legislators early today and clashed with police as they tried to assault them. 

Wong, who played a leadership role in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, Eddie Chu (朱凱廸), Edward Yiu (姚松炎) and Nathan Law (羅冠聰), legislators who advocate for the territory’s self-determination, were invited to Taiwan to participate in a forum on self-determination held in Taipei this afternoon (Jan. 7) and tomorrow. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

China’s ‘Soft Powerlessness’

Ultra-nationalistic Chinese citizens and organizations are out of control on the Internet and harassing Beijing’s opponents in ways that often undermine the state’s interests. 

As China’s comprehensive national power continues to grow, so has the nationalist sentiment among Chinese citizens, which in recent years has become an extremely vocal component of China’s external policy. But in the areas where state power has failed to translate into policy successes, such as in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, those expressions of nationalistic fervor have often turned to frustrated rage rather than a tool of persuasion or “soft power.” 

When it comes to Taiwan, the Chinese consternation has been most apparent online, largely due to the election of Tsai Ing-wen of the Taiwan-centric Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in January 2016 and the abject failure of eight years of rapprochement under M. Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, during which Beijing hoped to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese and thereby facilitate unification. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A New Voice for Taiwan in Times of High Uncertainty

The years ahead promise to be challenging ones for Taiwan. More than ever, its people need to engage the international community so that their nation’s complex situation and value to the world as a free democratic society are properly understood. 

After a transformative 2016, which saw another peaceful transition of power in Taiwan, 2017 is now upon us and promises to be as, if not even more, eventful. A new administration will enter the White House in the U.S. later this month, and in China the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will hold its party congress later this year, during which the next generation of party leaders will be selected. In Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen will continue to face several challenges, from reviving the nation’s stagnant economy to navigating the uncertain waters of the U.S.-Taiwan-China trilateral relationship to facing off with a Chinese leadership that seems intent on punishing Taiwan for the democratic choices its people have made. 

Continues here.

U.S. Hate Group MassResistance Behind Anti-LGBT Activities in Taiwan

The Christian-led movement against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan is now being directly aided by a group from the Extreme Right in the United States. 

A Massachusetts-based anti-gay organization has been playing a behind-the-scenes role in efforts by conservative Christians in Taiwan to block legal amendments that would turn Taiwan into the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. 

According to a Dec. 27 blog entry, MassResistance’s point man in Taiwan is Arthur Christopher Schaper, head of the California branch of the organization, “who has been working tirelessly with Taiwanese activists, expatriates in the US, and others to get the word out.” On Dec. 24, the Chinese-language service of Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency ran a piece exposing how MassResistance has been trying to “educate” the Taiwanese public on the supposedly nefarious impact of homosexual unions using Chinese-language translations of a video titled “What ‘gay marriage’ did to Massachusetts” as well as a booklet. 

Continues here.

Book Review: Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard

In his latest book, professor Bruce Jacobs walks us through the key trials surrounding the Kaohsiung Incident and gets down and personal with his own troubles with the Taiwanese authorities at the time.  

Following his sweeping history of Taiwan’s democratization (Democratizing Taiwan, Brill: 2012), Taiwan hand Bruce Jacobs in his latest book narrows the scope of his research by focusing on the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979-1980 and the trials of pro-democracy activists that followed. In this slim two-part volume titled The Kaohsiung Incident in Taiwan and Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard, Jacobs provides the context in which the events leading to the transformative incident occurred — what he calls the “Dangwai setting” when civil society pressured the authoritarian Kuomintang (KMT) to open the space for political participation — and through a blow-by-blow exploration of the military trial of eight key defendants shows how those developments ultimately contributed to Taiwan’s democratization. Most of the defendants, along with their defense lawyers, would eventually assume key positions in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and later on in government. 

Continues here.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

São Tomé and Príncipe Drops Taiwan, Embraces China

What was behind the move? What are the implications for Taiwan? 

The African nation of São Tomé and Príncipe on December 20 announced that it was severing diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and establishing ties with the People’s Republic of China. 

Following the news, Taipei announced that it was immediately severing diplomatic ties with the African country and withdrawing all diplomatic and technical personnel. Taiwan now has 21 official diplomatic allies worldwide, and just two in Africa—Burkina Faso and Swaziland. 

Continues here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

One China, Many Trumps?

Panic, hope, fear and anger are all premature when it comes to Trump’s policy on Taiwan and China 

If we needed one word to describe President-elect Donald J. Trump’s policies on Taiwan and China over the past week, that word would be uncertainty. From a tradition-breaking telephone conversation with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen earlier this month, to his claim that the United States should not necessarily be bound by its longstanding “one China” policy, to his suggestion that Taiwan could be used as a bargaining chip for trade negotiations with China, Trump has both angered and reassured at once. 

This apparent inconsistency has encouraged the wildest speculation and renewed interest in the dynamics of the Taiwan Strait, leading some to conclude that a new era of opportunity for Taiwan, the isolated democracy claimed by China as part of its territory, is at hand, and others warning that Trump’s adventurism or inexperience could severely harm Taiwan’s interests by compelling Beijing to retaliate against it. 

Continues here.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Tsai-Trump Call: The Dynamics in Taiwan

Most analysis of the call overlooks a crucial component: Tsai’s own calculations and the domestic reaction on Taiwan 

The 10-minute telephone conversation between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. president-elect Donald J. Trump on December 2 — the first such conversation between a sitting president in Taiwan and a U.S. president or president-elect since Washington broke official diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 — has sparked reactions worldwide, ranging from consternation at Trump’s breaking with longstanding policy to hopes for deeper relations between the United States and the democratic island nation. 

With much of Western media taking the lead in presuming to interpret Beijing’s ire at news of the unprecedented congratulatory call from Tsai, the incident and its significance were quickly blown out of proportion, so much so, in fact, that Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification — by force if necessary — may have felt compelled to turn up the rhetoric a notch after a rather mild initial response. Taking a cue from the hyperbole in many Western media, ultra-nationalistic Chinese media soon followed suit, with the Global Times going as far as to call Trump’s team “pigs,” and suggest the need for a rapid buildup of China’s strategic nuclear stockpile to counter any “provocation” by President Trump on issues such as Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Taiwan, Not the US, Will Likely Pay the Price for the Trump-Tsai Call

Weighing the pros and cons of THE CALL 

The recent 10-minute telephone conversation between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has sparked much speculation about a possible shift in US policy vis-à-vis the self-ruled democratic island nation, and the consequences of such a move on the all-important Sino-American relationship. 

At this juncture it is difficult to determine to what extent the phone conversation (and subsequent tweets by Trump) portend a change in the direction of Washington’s relationship with Taiwan, with which it has had close (albeit unofficial) diplomatic relations since 1979. It's clear the call was a boost for President Tsai’s image domestically and provided some reassurance (premature, perhaps) that President Trump will not include Taiwan in a 'grand bargain' with China. We can also be certain Trump did not take the call on a whim or due to ignorance of international relations: the potential repercussions are simply too serious. 

Continues here.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Should Washington Recalibrate Relations with Taipei?

President Trump could do a few things to normalize ties with Taiwan, but the options remain limited 

The recent storm over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s 10-minute congratulatory call to U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump has engendered much speculation about the possibility that an anti-China iteration of President Trump could seek to establish closer ties with Taiwan. 

Whether this is what Mr. Trump has in mind is anyone’s guess and will be largely contingent on whom he appoints to key positions in his administration. In an ideal world, where morals rather than national power determines the course of history, it would be perfectly sensible for the U.S. president to more closely align his or her government with a successful, peaceful, and democratic nation-state living in the shadow of a giant authoritarian—and expansionist—neighbor. 

Continues here.

Trump's Taiwan Call: Cross-Strait Politics by Other Means

What was behind the Tsai-Trump call? What does it mean about US-Taiwan-China relations?

President-elect Donald J. Trump last week seemed to give credence to the claim that the U.S. presidency under him will not be “business as unusual” when he took a call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, breaking nearly four decades of protocol and risking Beijing’s ire. 

No sooner had the ten-minute telephone conversation been made public than analysis worldwide began speculating about whether it presaged a shift in U.S. policy vis-à-vis Taiwan, the democratic, self-ruled island nation of twenty-three million people, and willingness on the future president’s part to stick it to China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan. Not only the call itself, but a subsequent tweet by Trump stating that he had received a congratulatory call from the president of Taiwan rather than using the nation’s official designation, the Republic of China, led many pundits, along with a frenzied international media, to conclude that Trump was signaling a policy shift or, worse, that he did not know what he had gotten himself into and had perhaps been used by President Tsai, who needed to score points domestically. 

Continues here.