Category Archives: Taiwan

“A New Map in Chinese Passports Stirs Anger Across the Region”

China’s quest to make all of her neighbors angry is starting to get make some serious progress (via Mark MacDonald):

China’s new passports — embossed with a map showing disputed territories as belonging solely to the mainland — are causing quite the diplomatic furor in Asia.

India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines have all objected to the new map, which puts a number of island chains and border areas under Beijing’s sovereignty.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a statement that Beijing was “not targeting a specific country” with the revised passport map, noting that “China is willing to communicate with the relevant countries.”

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University, said in The Financial Times that the new map could “demonstrate our national sovereignty but it could also make things more problematic and there is already more than enough trouble” over territorial disputes.

“We are not prepared to accept it,” said Salman Khurshid, the Indian foreign minister. “We, therefore, ensure that our flags of disagreement are put out immediately when something happens. We can do it in an agreeable way or you can do it in a disagreeable way.”

India, meanwhile, has come up with its own map, which it is stamping into the passports of Chinese citizens seeking Indian visas.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said that Vietnamese border officials — not wanting to appear to validate the new Chinese map — were refusing to stamp visas into the passports of Chinese visitors.

Instead, Vietnam was issuing visas on separate pieces of paper that are inserted into the passports.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario sent a verbal note to China’s embassy in Manila saying that “the Philippines strongly protests the inclusion of the nine-dash line in the e-passport as such image covers an area clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain.”

The Chinese passport map includes the popular Taiwanese tourist sites of Sun Moon Lake and Cingshui Cliffs. That did not sit well with President Ma Ying-jeou, who said in a statement that Beijing should not “unilaterally damage the status quo of the hard-fought stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said: “China has ignored the truth and sparked disputes by including pictures of our territory and landscape in its new Chinese passports. It should put aside disputes and face up to reality.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Chinese foreign policy, India, South China Sea, Taiwan, Vietnam

“Why Taiwanese Don’t Want Unity With China”

From Tea Leaf Nation, a good explanation of exactly why Taiwanese don’t want to achieve ‘reunification’ with the mainland on Beijing’s terms, written by a Taiwanese author named Long Yingtai:

The Taiwanese people are used to living in a democratic system, which is reflected in their everyday life. Which means: His government building is open to everyone; no guard will check his ID at the door. He enters the building as if he’s going into a shopping mall. He does some paperwork, applies for a document, has it stamped, all without obstacles. He waits to be called his number, nobody cuts in line. When it’s his turn, the government officer won’t give him attitude or trouble.

“He is used to see government officers be impeached or bow and leave the stage for mistakes in policy-making. He is used to seeing newspaper assailing the government, questioning its officers and revealing unlawful practices. He is used to expressing his distain of political figures and making fun of them.

“He pays his tax on time, and the money goes to poor children in need and elderly people who live alone. He’s not against this. He is used to living in a society where fortune is distributed rather fairly; he doesn’t see beggars in extreme poverty on the street, nor luxurious cars. He’s used to seeing many civil charity organizations and volunteer workers helping out when disasters happen. …”

“Is the confrontation across the strait a debate between unification and independence? Or is it between capitalism and socialism, between separatism and nationalism? It’s none of those. For most Taiwanese people, it’s a choice of lifestyle, very concrete and specific, not abstract at all.”

I’ve heard Westerners wonder why Taiwan wouldn’t want to reunite with a rising China, but I’ve always thought the answer there was pretty obvious. Who would want to gamble with their civil and human rights on a table run by the Communist Party?!

Leave a comment

Filed under Taiwan

“Diaoyu in Our Heart”

Freelance writer Helen Gao has a good piece in The Atlantic about some of the intricacies of the Diaoyu Islands arrests last week, and how Chinese people see their nation and themselves:

A web user named oncebookstore posted a question on Weibo, China’s twitter-style social network: “If your child were born on the Diaoyu Islands, what nationality would you pick for him/her: Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong or the mainland?” (The islands, also known as the Senkakus in Japan, are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Japan.) It went viral on Sunday, retweeted over 20,000 times in nine hours before censors took it down around midnight. The surprising results would seem to contradict the popular anti-Japanese protests, undercut the government’s efforts to stoke patriotism, and may well baffle outside observers: Chinese respondents overwhelmingly picked places other than mainland China. Around 40 percent answered Taiwan, followed by Hong Kong with about 25 percent, followed by Japan. Mainland China was the least popular option. A formal poll, set up on Weibo after the original post was pulled, returned similar results, with Japan at 20 percent and the mainland at 15.

Though contradictory at first glance, the sentiment at the anti-Japanese protests and that revealed by the Weibo quiz are perhaps not as inconsistent as they might appear, and could highlight the dual nature of the nationalistic feelings deeply rooted in Chinese society today. The same Chinese nationalism that drives citizens to stand up for their native land when outside forces challenge it could also sharpen their pain when they observe the depressingly wide gap between China as it is and China as they wish it could be.

“Political slogans aside, as a citizen of the globe, I would rather have the next generation growing up in an place like Taiwan or Japan,” said zuzhanggaocangwentai. “I don’t want them to have to take poisonous baby formula, sit in brainwashing classes, and love the party that hurts its people.”

Weibozhuanping also saw potential social advantage abroad: “If we speak about society instead of politics, Japan has the most fair and humane society. Workers and farmers won’t have as hard a time there as they do in China.”

“I vote for Taiwan,” said yingdedaobie, “because that’s where you get to vote.”

In fact, web users’ responses seemed to be driven more by a deep discontent with the current China than by a veneration for these more developed economies: a large number of participants put their answers as bluntly as “Anywhere but the mainland.”

The owner of an independent bookstore in a southern Chinese province, he told me that his initial hope in asking the uncomfortable question was to make the public aware that “there are more pressing issues than the Diaoyu Islands.”

“I hope Chinese people can show as much solidarity as they did in protecting the Diaoyu Islands every time someone is illegally evicted from his house by officials; I hope they can shout like they did to save the pro-China Diaoyu activists every time a Chinese dissident is arrested,” he posted on his blog immediately after putting up the quiz.

“Farmlands, houses, and families, they should be the Diaoyu Islands in our heart.”

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, Japan, nationalism, Taiwan

“Foreigners Under Fire”

The Diplomat has a piece from writer Tonio Andrade, who describes the changes requested by Chinese censors when he tried to publish a book in the PRC:

My new book, Lost Colony: the Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West, won’t be published in mainland China. It might have found a strong readership there. Its main personage, Koxinga, is famous for driving the Dutch from Taiwan and bringing the island under Chinese rule. The story of his triumph is a gripping one, and I strove to tell it in a balanced way: no East versus West, just humans scrambling to do their best during hard times. As a member of the global history movement, this kind of balanced history is what I strive for. It’s the mission of my scholarly life.

But Chinese censors apparently don’t truck with balance. My erstwhile publisher asked whether I would acquiesce to omitting some “sensitive material” and changing some wording. It sounded like an innocuous request until I got to the details. Since Koxinga is considered a “positive figure in China,” my publisher informed me that the text would have to omit any discussion of torture by him and his soldiers. (Descriptions of Dutch atrocities were acceptable, though.) The book couldn’t refer to Koxinga as a “conqueror” or a “warlord,” and his “restoration of Taiwan” couldn’t be referred to as an invasion or an attack. Similarly, any mention of resistance by Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples (who, historical sources make clear, rose up and killed thousands of his soldiers), would also have to be excised, on the grounds that such episodes hint of “some sort of consciousness of Taiwanese independence.” The Chinese publisher said that if I refused to make such changes, the translation wouldn’t proceed. “Abridgement,” I was told, “is unavoidable.”

And so I set aside my dreams of renown and royalties and said no.

1 Comment

Filed under censorship, history, Taiwan

“Nationality: Democrat”

Foreign Policy tracks the footholds democracy is gaining in and around China, despite the CCP’s racist claims that Chinese people are somehow unworthy of democracy:

But Beijing’s fury reflects a much deeper problem for the Party: any list of factors contributing to the development of a distinct identity among Hong Kong people would have to include civil liberties, independent courts, press freedom, and political parties. When Beijing concluded negotiations on Hong Kong’s return with the British, it promised a “high degree of autonomy” and agreed that democracy was the “ultimate aim.” Beijing, however, gave itself the right to interpret these terms, and since reassuming control of the territory it has repeatedly pushed back the date when Hong Kong people might choose their leader and legislature.

Hong Kong’s people have energetically defended their civil and political liberties. To Beijing’s chagrin, that includes holding demonstrations held each year on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. In 2003, a massive march, estimated at 500,000, defeated plans to enact legislation outlawing subversion according to Article 23 of the Beijing-drafted Basic Law — “a people’s victory over their Hong Kong puppet government and the dictatorial Chinese Communist Party,” Liu Xiaobo wrote in a 2007 essay, recently republished in a collection of his essays and poems. An uptick in the number of protestors at last summer’s July 1 demonstration has been attributed at least in part to opposition to the government’s proposal to do away with by-elections.

Taiwanese, too, have developed their own distinct identity tied to democracy. Polls show a steady climb in the percentage of people who consider themselves “Taiwanese.”

Perhaps worse, from Beijing’s perspective, as Shelley Rigger, a political scientist at Davidson College writes, Taiwanese people’s “commitment to democracy is stronger than their determination to achieve a particular outcome.” A civic identity that prioritizes democracy is an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party, which peddles a brand of nationalism based on chauvinism, xenophobia, and great power pretentions.

The democratic identity developing among Tibetans in exile is also a challenge for Beijing. Communist propaganda presents the Dalai Lama as an “evil splittist,” the representative of a backward, aristocratic elite from which the Party has emancipated the long-suffering Tibetans. In fact, the Tibetan spiritual leader long ago abandoned independence as a goal, opting instead for “genuine autonomy” within the People’s Republic. He has led the India-based Tibetan government in exile through a democratic transition. Last March, he completed the project by separating his religious duties from his political ones, turning over the latter to a prime minister elected by eligible voters among Tibetan exiles in South Asia, Europe, and the United States. The Dalai Lama has said that whether the institution of the Dalai Lama continues is up to Tibetans, and he pursues dialogue with ordinary Chinese citizens. All of this is extremely threatening to Beijing.

Like the pictures yesterday in the Atlantic, perhaps something to help reassure people who lose heart in the face of the machine Beijing has assembled to defend itself- it is at the same time beset from all sides and within by forces for change. Containing these forces is becoming a larger task every day, and I for one don’t subscribe to the notion that Beijing is infinitely powerful. Change is inevitable.

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, Hong Kong, Orientalism, Taiwan

“Democracy Taiwan’s ‘best gift’ to China: Ma”

Haha, ok, if Ma is going to troll China like this then I guess it’s ok that he beat Tsai:

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou said this month’s presidential vote was the island’s “best gift” to China, hailing the potential for the poll to show the path to democracy on the mainland.

Ma has said hundreds of millions of people in mainland China watched Taiwan’s presidential candidates debate live on television last month for the first time through the Internet.

The poll, which saw Ma re-elected, could inspire Chinese democracy supporters, he said in a statement released by the Presidential Office.

“The peaceful election, a sign of democracy taking roots and bear fruits on the soil of a Chinese community, will make them feel that this will also happen on the mainland,” the statement said.

“I believe this is the best gift from us to the mainland.”

He added that the January 14 vote will demonstrate to the mainland that “headcount is the best way to solve differences between the two sides”.

If you define ‘best gift’ as ‘gift that fills the CCP with deep, instinctual dread’ then yes, I suppose Taiwanese democracy is a great gift indeed.

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, Taiwan

Taiwan Elections: Ma Wins

First, from Daniel Lynch at Foreign Affairs:

In presidential elections this weekend, Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s incumbent president from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist Party, decisively defeated Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). With about 52 percent of the vote (compared to Tsai’s 45.6 percent and the third-party candidate James Soong’s 2.8 percent), Ma will be able to govern with a clear majority of popular support. His margin of victory was far higher than most opinion polls had predicted. Many Soong supporters seem to have decided in recent days that by voting for their preferred candidate, who is almost politically identical to Ma, they might hand Tsai the victory.

For their part, voters seem to have accepted Ma’s contention that reducing cross-strait tensions improves the country’s economic well-being. Indeed, more than ever, Taiwan’s economy is dependent on China’s. This is partly a result of market dynamics (Taiwanese capital flows across the Taiwan Strait in search of lower production costs) and partly a result of the KMT and Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to facilitate integration. By the end of 2011, some 80,000 Taiwanese firms had invested up to $200 billion in mainland factories, research and development centers, stores, and restaurants. And annual trade between the two sides exceeded $150 billion. Meanwhile, out of a total population of 23 million, one million or more Taiwanese live in China. Directly or indirectly, the majority of Taiwanese households depend on Chinese economic dynamism for their livelihood.

Next, Bruce Jacobs from Taipei Times writes about what the DPP should take from the defeat:

Whether Taiwan gains more international space will remain to be seen. Will Taiwan gain better status in the World Health Assembly? Will Taiwan gain access to other international organizations? Will China continue to belittle Taiwan with terms such as Taipei China (中國台北) instead of Chinese Taipei (中華台北) or the Republic of China on Taiwan? Will Ma’s “diplomatic truce” continue to be respected by both sides so that Taiwan’s diplomatic allies do not switch to Beijing? Will Taiwanese gain visa-free status to the US? Will the US and other nations provide more ministerial-level visits?

The DPP won only 40 legislative seats, well under the 45 that the leadership privately hoped to gain. Even with the TSU’s three seats, the pan-greens have only 38 percent of the seats, an improvement on 2008, but still insufficient for a party hoping to win back control of the government. This poor result clearly indicates that the DPP must reconsider how it determines its nominations for legislative seats, a process that has failed in the past three legislative elections.

Although the DPP has made some gains, it still has a considerable distance to go before regaining the presidency. This campaign showed some substantial difficulties with the DPP and its campaign organization.

Tsai initially did not listen to advice. Thus, for example, her performance in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) debate with Ma was disastrous. After that, she improved her debating performance, but her key aides, who controlled access to her, remained limited to three young women. These aides were overworked and blocked access to Tsai herself. On several occasions her aides proved they weren’t up to the tasks facing them and the DPP.

Tsai’s nomination enabled the DPP to begin a generational change among its top leadership. However, such a leadership change has yet to be completed. Many new leaders will emerge over the next three years, including vice presidential nominee Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全). However, in addition to a leadership change, the DPP needs to listen to a much wider range of people. The party has large numbers of people capable of making major contributions. These willing and able people must not be cut off from contributing to the party and to party decisions.

Finally, Shanghaiist translates the web commentary from mainland web users reacting to the election:

When I saw Sinopec’s 12 million RMB chandelier, I was not jealous; When I saw Guo Meimei’s Maserati, I was not jealous; When I saw the 3,000 square metre luxury apartment bought by the former chief engineer Zhou Shuguang of the Ministry of Railways in the US, I was not jealous; When I saw that the former Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun had been sleeping with actresses from the Dream of the Red Mansion, I was not jealous; When I saw the son of an official trample upon the law saying “My dad is Li Gang”, I was not jealous; When I saw the people of Taiwan elect their own president under a one-man-one-vote system, I was jealous.

If it’s at all possible to assign scores for democracy, then today’s Taiwan is probably a lot more democratic than many of the more established democracies of the world. These people are like you and I — yellow skinned, brown-eyed, speak Mandarin, and eat Chinese food. Those people that think democracy is not suitable for the Chinese people can now shut up. Those people that say democracy is not possible because the Chinese people are not well-educated enough, or that China is too unique for it, can now shut up. Those people that are still going on about how socialism is superior — please, either go to North Korea for a taste of real socialism, or shut up.

In the re-election of Ma Ying-jeou, 18 million Taiwan voters were co-stars, while another 1.3 billion mainland residents became a captivated and openly envious audience. The shouts of democracy and election that have rung day and night are like a big tight slap across our face, one that leaves our cheeks burning and our ears ringing. There is hope for democracy on the mainland. Come, everybody, let’s talk about democracy and elections on Sina, Tencent, NetEase an

1 Comment

Filed under democracy, Taiwan