China urges US to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)
(HOW ABOUT: WORLD URGES CHINA TO IMMEDIATELY STOP INTERFERING IN HONG KONG’S AND TAIWAN’S AFFAIRS)(oldpoet56)

China urges US to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs

Xinhua

China on Thursday strongly urged the US side to respect China’s sovereignty and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in response to reports that US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference on Wednesday with House members as well as Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Denise Ho to back the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.

“China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes this move,” Geng said at a press briefing, accusing Pelosi and other US politicians of confusing right from wrong, engaging with Hong Kong separatists and grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs.

Geng reiterated the position that Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and brook no interference from any outside forces.

“We strongly urge the US side to abide by international laws and basic norms governing international relations, respect China’s sovereignty, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form and advancing the Hong Kong-related act,” Geng said.

He also called on the United States to stop backing the violent and radical forces as well as Hong Kong separatists and desist from supporting any moves undermining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

China to impose sanctions on US companies in case of arms sales to Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to impose sanctions on US companies in case of arms sales to Taiwan

Xinhua

China on Wednesday urged the United States to immediately cancel the planned arms sales to Taiwan, saying China will take all necessary measures to defend its own interests including imposing sanctions on US companies involved in the planned sales.

The US Defense Department on Wednesday officially notified the US Congress of the plan to sell 66 F-16 fighters and relevant equipment worth around US$8 billion to Taiwan and to provide support.

“China firmly opposes the plan and has lodged solemn representations and protests to the US side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing.

The US arms sales plan seriously violated international laws and basic norms governing international relations, as well as the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, especially the August 17 Communique, Geng said.

“[Such a move] constitutes severe interference in China’s internal affairs, and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

The spokesman said the Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is associated with China’s core interests. “China has firm determination to safeguard its own national sovereignty, unity and security.”

Geng urged the US side to abide by the one-China principle and relevant provisions laid out in the three China-US joint communiques, “immediately cancel the aforementioned arms sales plan, cease arms sales to Taiwan and sever military ties with the island.”

“Otherwise, all the ensuing consequences will be born by the US side,” Geng added.

Hong Kong: The Next Bloodbath

Hong Kong: The Next Bloodbath

 

I very much fear that Hong Kong is going to be the next Tienanmen Square except on a much larger scale. The Communist government in Beijing have used the financial muscle generated in Hong Kong to build their country and their military power ever since England turned it back over to them. Now the Chinese government is facing a quandary of sorts. If they do nothing and the protesters continue to stay united against the intrusions of Beijing then the government would have to either back down which would make them look weak or use their military to stop the protesters. Personally I believe that the government will use force to end the peoples blockades of government buildings, stores, and the streets. I can’t help but wonder how many people will be murdered by China’s military in this process. How many protesters will sacrifice their lives in hoping that the West will come to their aid? Personally I do not believe that the U.S. nor the UN will do anything accept talk and issue sanctions which will save no lives in Hong Kong. This is just as I believe that Beijing will totally get away with attacking the legitimate government of China that resides on Taiwan as the world sits back and wrings their hands and whine. Obviously this is just my opinion but this is how I honestly see these events playing out.

 

 

Chinese FM urges US not to ‘play with fire’ on Taiwan-related issues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Chinese FM urges US not to ‘play with fire’ on Taiwan-related issues

Xinhua
Chinese FM urges US not to 'play with fire' on Taiwan-related issues

AFP

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a joint press conference with Hungarian Trade and Foreign Minister on July 12, 2019 in Budapest.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday urged the United States to correctly handle Taiwan-related issues, and not “play with fire.”

Wang made the remarks here when meeting the press with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

The US government, ignoring China’s solemn position and firm opposition, recently approved arms sales to Taiwan, he said, noting that China has lodged solemn representations with the US side.

China is seriously concerned about Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen’s “transit” in the United States, and firmly opposes any official contact between the United States and Taiwan in any form, added the Chinese top diplomat.

Wang noted that “Taiwan independence” separatist activity is against the trend of history and interests of the people across the Taiwan Strait.

It has neither a future nor a way out, and is doomed to fail, he added.

The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affairs and allows no outside interference, Wang said, adding that no one or any force can stop the historical process of reunification between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait, nor should they underestimate the firm will of the Chinese government and people in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China urges the US side to fully recognize the seriousness of Taiwan-related issues, honor its commitment to the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques with action, and correctly handle Taiwan-related issues in accordance with the important consensus, reached by heads of state of the two countries, on advancing bilateral ties based on coordination, stability, and cooperation, he said.

China urges the United States not to send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces or make any more wrong moves, and not even to “play with fire” on Taiwan-related issues, said the Chinese foreign minister.

Washington would “lift a rock only to drop it on its own feet” if it attempts to make new difficulties and troubles for the China-US relations, he said.

Taiwan President Risks Infuriating China With U.S. Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Taiwan President Risks Infuriating China With U.S. Visit

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan arriving at a hotel in New York on Thursday.Credit Calla Kessler/The New York Times
ImagePresident Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan arriving at a hotel in New York on Thursday.
Credit Calla Kessler/The New York Times

The leader of Taiwan, the self-governing island of 24 million claimed by China, visited the United States on Thursday and said her people would “never be intimidated,” risking China’s wrath and a further fraying of ties between Beijing and the Trump administration.

The visit by President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which includes stopovers in New York and Denver, is happening over the objections of China, which urged the United States government not to permit it.

Ms. Tsai made the trip in the midst of a protracted trade disputebetween China and the United States, and just a few days after the Defense Department approved a $2 billion arms sale to Taiwan, a deal that China regards as especially provocative.

While Ms. Tsai has visited the United States before, this was her first trip as president to New York, where Taiwan maintains a large unofficial consular and trade office just a few blocks from the United Nations. Taiwan is not a United Nations member and has no representatives, but 17 countries in the world body continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Ms. Tsai’s two-day New York itinerary, which required the Trump administration’s approval, included a summit of Taiwan and American business representatives and a dinner banquet with members of the Taiwanese-American community.

Her entourage, protected by federal agents and New York police officers, arrived at the midtown Grand Hyatt to a raucous welcome by hundreds of pro-Taiwan demonstrators, waving Taiwanese and American flags and screaming “Zongtong hao!” (“Hello president!”) She shook hands and posed for selfies.

Across the street, a smaller but equally passionate group of pro-Beijing protesters was denouncing the visit. Some were heard shouting, “Down with Taiwan!” and “Unify China!” A Reuters photographer witnessed a brawl between members of the rival demonstrations that was broken up by the police.

Later Thursday at a reception held in Taiwan’s consular offices nearby, Ms. Tsai welcomed United Nations ambassadors from the countries, mostly in Latin America and islands in the Pacific Ocean, that recognize Taiwan despite pressure from China.

ImagePolice officers monitoring pro-China and pro-Taiwan demonstrators outside the hotel in New York where Ms. Tsai arrived on Thursday.
Credit Calla Kessler/The New York Times

She thanked them for helping to ensure that Taiwan’s voice is “heard around the world.” And in a pointed reference to China, Ms. Tsai said: “I want to reiterate that Taiwan is not and will never be intimidated.”

The United States broke formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s government in 1979, ending what was known as the two-China policy, in order to establish relations with China’s Communist government in Beijing. But the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan and has provided it with defensive weapons meant to deter a Chinese attack.

The Chinese Communist authorities in Beijing have long claimed Taiwan as China’s territory and have threatened to unify it with the mainland by force.

Ms. Tsai’s visit, which has been planned for months, was partly aimed at reinforcing her government’s ties with the Caribbean nations that recognize Taiwan. Her 12-day itinerary included stopovers at St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and Haiti.

“Freedom, democracy and sustainability are the Taiwanese values we want to share with all our good friends in the world,” Ms. Tsai said in a speech before her departure from Taiwan.

Taiwan’s tensions with China, with which it has developed expansive commercial ties, have grown under Ms. Tsai, who has been president since 2016. A member of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, she has stressed what she has called the need to strengthen the country’s military defenses. She faces an election in January.

Ms. Tsai toughened her rhetoric on China in April after Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China and Taiwan, for the first time since 1999. Taiwan jets scrambled and repelled their Chinese counterparts, which came within 115 miles of the island’s coast.

“These actions by China are not only unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo, even more, they are a brazen provocation to regional security and stability,” Ms. Tsai said afterward.

Ms. Tsai’s pro-independence politics, and Taiwan’s ties with the United States, have led to criticism from China.

In denouncing the Pentagon’s decision to allow the arms sale to Taiwan, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, Ma Xiaoguang, said Tuesday that Ms. Tsai’s party should not rely on foreign strength, which would “draw fire against yourself” and require her to “pay a price.”

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 6 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Visit Risks Beijing’s Fury For President Of Taiwan. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

China to Sanction U.S. Companies for Arms Sales to Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

China to Sanction U.S. Companies for Arms Sales to Taiwan

Beijing says U.S. approval of $2.2 billion in military sales harms its national security

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, shown here in June, arrived in the U.S. on Thursday. PHOTO: RITCHIE B TONGO/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

China will sanction U.S. firms that participate in arms sales to Taiwan, after Washington approved sales of $2.2 billion in tanks, missiles and related military hardware, Beijing said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the arms sales “harmed China’s sovereignty and national security” and that the sanctions were necessary to safeguard its national interests.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, part of the United States Defense Department, notified Congress on Monday of proposed arms sales including 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, Hercules armored vehicles, heavy equipment transporters and Stinger antiaircraft missiles.

The proposed sales risk further testing relations between the U.S. and China, already strained by protracted trade tensions. They swiftly drew the ire of Beijing, which sees such sales as interference in its sovereignty claims over the self-ruled island.

It coincided with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s arrival in the U.S. on Thursday, as part of a visit to four Caribbean allies, a trip that has also prompted anger from Beijing.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged the U.S. to immediately withdraw the sale and said it had lodged “stern representations.” The official China Daily said Ms. Tsai was “playing a game of brinksmanship” by building up Taiwan’s military defense.

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The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over

china militaryJon Woo/Reuters
  • The US military recently called Taiwan a country, something that China routinely threatens to go to war over.
  • China thinks of Taiwan as a renegade province with a democratic government that’s an existential threat to the Communist party.
  • No US president for decades has been so supportive of Taiwan, and the US and China now find themselves in uncharted territory.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has engaged China in a trade war that has global markets holding their breath, but his administration recently challenged Beijing on an issue Chinese officials have promised to go to war over.

The US military’s recent Indo-Pacific Strategy paper, published on June 1, goes further than perhaps any US document ever issued in potentially provoking China’s rage over what it sees as the most sensitive issue.

Buried in the paper, which charts China’s efforts to build up a military fortress in the South China Sea and use its growing naval might to coerce its neighbors, is a reference to Taiwan as a “country.”

“As democracies in the Indo-Pacific, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Mongolia are reliable, capable, and natural partners of the United States. All four countries contribute to US missions around the world and are actively taking steps to uphold a free and open international order,” the strategy reads.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway island province that has its own, democratic government. Beijing sees this as an existential threat and the factor most likely to upset the Communist Party’s absolute hold on power in the mainland.

In July 2018, China threatened to blacklist airlines that referred to Taiwan as a country. US airlines fell in line, but the White House protested the strong-arm tactic as “ Orwellian nonsense.”

But now the US itself has clearly said it: Taiwan is a country, and the US will treat it as such.

“The Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs”

Trump Bolton
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 9, 2018.
 NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

In another unprecedented step, a high-ranking Taiwanese minister was allowed to meet with Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, in May. This move predictably enraged China.

At the Shangri La Dialogue, the top defense summit in Asia, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe made clear the stakes of China’s Taiwan problem.

“Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure. If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs,” Wei said, according to Channel Asia News.

Taiwan is “the hot-button issue” in US-China relations, John Hemmings, the director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, told Business Insider.

China has always maintained that it would prefer to reunify with Taiwan peacefully but will do so by force if needed. Additionally, China’s navy has increasingly patrolled the waters around the island and flown nuclear-capable bombers nearby.

But the US has also sailed warships through the narrow strait separating China and Taiwan and has gotten allies to pitch in.

The arms are already moving

Marine Corps Abrams tank Arrow 19 Finland
A US Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tank from 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, during Arrow 2019 at the Pohjankangas Training Area near Niinisalo, Finland, May 12, 2019.
 US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins

The US’s rhetorical escalation follows the Trump administration normalizing arms sales to Taiwan and the news that it will sell $2 billion in tanks, anti-tank weapons, and air defenses to the island.

According to Hemmings, these weapons have a clear purpose: To fight back against a Chinese invasion of the island.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider that the US had now entered “uncharted territory” by acknowledging Taiwan.

The US under Trump has been the most pro-Taiwan administration in decades, Hemmings said. Trump demonstrated this when he had a call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen before Trump even took office.

Taiwan military exercise invasion artillery Han Kuang
Women soldiers from an artillery unit during the live-fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China’s People’s Liberation Army invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan, May 30, 2019.
 REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

For years, China has slowly stepped up pressure on the US in areas like forcing companies to transfer technology, building up military sites on artificial islands in the South China Sea, and naval challenges.

Hemmings referenced a popular anecdote in China, where a frog is cooked by putting it in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize it’s getting cooked until it’s too late. China’s gradual pressure campaign against the US has been compared to this practice.

With the US now quietly acknowledging Taiwan in a strategy document, it may have found its own small way to turn up the heat on Beijing.

More: China Taiwan Military Defense

Why Trump’s Golan Heights move should worry India and Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘QUARTZ NEWS’)

 

AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH
United Nations who?
NOT THE WORLD’S COP

Why Trump’s Golan Heights move should worry India and Taiwan

By Heather Timmons

Donald Trump signed a proclamation today (March 25) recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel, overturning 50 years of US precedent and defying international law on sovereign borders.

That means that the world’s most powerful military has decided to support Israel’s 1967 occupation and 1981 annexation of a region that the rest of the world and the United Nations recognize as belonging to Syria. “Aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel,” Trump said, explaining the move.

By ignoring the United Nations charter pledge to refrain from “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” Trump is putting the future of other long-disputed territory in jeopardy, foreign policy experts say. “It sets a terrible precedent,” said Edward Goldberg, a professor with New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. “If the US doesn’t recognize international law as the ‘cop,’ then who does?,” he said.

“What if China goes into Taiwan tomorrow, isn’t that the same thing?,” Goldberg said, “or Pakistan into Kashmir?”

Beijing considers Taiwan part of China, despite the fact that the island nation has an indigenous population, is self-governing, and has conducted independent democratic elections since the 1990s. Most other democracies around the world don’t recognize Taiwan as an independent country, in deference to China, and it is barred from the United Nations. While the United States has recently partnered with Taiwan officials to fight intellectual property theft, this January Chinese president Xi Jinping warned that Beijing could retake the island by force.

The Kashmir region between India and Pakistan has been disputed for more than 70 years, a legacy of the Partition that accompanied Britain’s withdrawal from India in 1947. Tensions rose in the volatile region in recent weeks, after India conducted a “pre-emptive strike” in Pakistan-controlled territory, and Pakistan captured an Indian fighter pilot. The mostly Muslim residents of the India-administered Kashmir Valley view the national government as an occupying force, and Pakistan officials support their self-government.

So far there are no signs that the Trump administration is interested in inserting itself into the long-simmering Pakistan-India dispute. However, the US Navy has increased its presence in the Taiwan Strait, most recently on March 24, responding to Beijing’s circling of the island in recent drills.

Trump made the unprecedented Golan Heights decision in a bid to boost prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of national elections April 9. Netanyahu has been charged in several corruption cases, although he still maintains an edge in polls. He applauded as Trump signed the proclamation, while secretary of state Mike Pompeo and vice president Mike Pence looked on:

Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United Nations immediately condemned Trump’s proclamation, and the UN declared Israel’s annexation of the area “null and void.” As president, Trump has pulled the US out of international agreements, including the Paris Climate Accord and the TransPacific Partnership, but the Golan Heights decision is being specifically criticized as breaking international law.

China: President Xi Says That Taiwan Will Be Reunited With China, Even If By Force

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

(MAINLAND CHINA IS PART OF TAIWAN, IT IS NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT IN BEIJING IS THE ILLEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT OF CHINA. THE ONLY LEGITIMATE CHINESE GOVERNMENT IS THE ONE IN TAIPEI, XI JINPING AND THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT IN BEIJING ARE A FRAUD THAT MUST BE REMOVED FROM THE EARTH EVEN IF (TO USE MR. XI WORDS) THAT MEANS BY FORCE!) (oldpoet56)  

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the people of Taiwan to accept it “must and will be” reunited with China.

In a speech marking 40 years since the start of improving ties, he reiterated Beijing’s call for peaceful unification on a one-country-two-systems basis.

However, he also warned that China reserved the right to use force.

While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province and Mr Xi’s comments are in line with China’s long-standing policy towards reunification.

But on Wednesday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said the island would never accept reunification with China under the terms offered by Beijing.

“I want to reiterate that Taiwan will never accept ‘one country, two systems’. The vast majority of Taiwanese public opinion also resolutely opposes ‘one country, two systems’, and this is also the ‘Taiwan consensus’.”

Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected – however, there are widespread concerns in the territory that those freedoms are gradually being eroded.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Xi said both sides were part of the same Chinese family and that Taiwanese independence was “an adverse current from history and a dead end”.

Taiwanese people “must understand that independence will only bring hardship,” Mr Xi said, adding Beijing would never tolerate any form of activity promoting Taiwanese independence.

Instead, unification was “an inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people”, he argued.

He also stressed that relations with Taiwan were “part of China’s domestic politics” and that “foreign interference is intolerable”.

Beijing “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures” against outside forces that interfere with peaceful reunification and Taiwanese separatist activities.

Taiwan Honour guards perform during the rehearsal for the presidential inauguration in Taipei, Taiwan (20 May 2016)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMany in Taiwan want a separate nation

What is the view in Taiwan?

In a new year’s speech on Tuesday, Ms Tsai said China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values.

“I would like to call on China to face squarely the reality of the existence of the Republic of China on Taiwan,” Ms Tsai said, referring to the island’s formal name.

China should “respect the insistence of 23 million people on freedom and democracy, and must use peaceful, on parity means to handle our differences”, she added.

In November, Ms Tsai’s political party saw a heavy setback in regional elections perceived by Beijing as a blow to her separatist stance.

Presentational grey line

How serious is China’s threat?

Analysis by John Sudworth, BBC News, Beijing

The Chinese Communist Party has long spoken about unification as a matter of destiny.

But President Xi is arguably the most powerful leader since Mao – now unconstrained by presidential term limits – and one who has personalised, like no other, the project for “national rejuvenation”.

So should we pay more heed when the threat to retake Taiwan by force if necessary comes from his lips?

China may be a rising military superpower, but sending an invading army across the choppy, well-defended waters of the Taiwan strait would still be a huge military gamble, with success far from guaranteed.

Beyond the slightly more strident tone, Mr Xi’s speech does not appear to signal any dramatic change in those calculations, especially when you take into account the more conciliatory passages offering a further strengthening of trade links.

If there is to be any warfare, it is likely to be of the cyber kind; China is reported to be stepping up its efforts to influence Taiwan’s elections to hurt the prospects of independence-leaning parties and politicians.

The hope has long been that it will be China’s growing economic might, not military force, that will eventually pull Taiwan into its embrace.

Presentational grey line

Why is this so contentious?

Taiwan is a self-governed democracy and for all practical purposes has acted as an independent nation since 1949, when China’s nationalist government was defeated by communist forces and fled there from the mainland.

China however considers the island to be a breakaway province – not a country in its own right – which will one day be fully reunited with the mainland.

Woman holding Taiwanese flagImage copyright AFP
Image caption Beijing insists Taiwan is just a breakaway province

In recent years, Beijing has become increasingly assertive over its claims and what it says is a key question of national sovereignty.

China, for instance, insists that other countries can only have diplomatic ties with China or Taiwan, not both.

Beijing has won over more and more of Taipei’s few international allies to cut diplomatic ties with the island and establish relations with China instead.

Last year, it also forced foreign airlines and hotels to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites.

Xi Jinping And His Habitual Liars Rattles Taiwan Ahead Of Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ALJAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

‘Fake news’ rattles Taiwan ahead of elections

Beijing is test-driving propaganda techniques ahead of Taiwan’s largest-ever elections on Saturday, officials say.

by

President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Taipei, Taiwan – China is spreading “fake news” via social media to swing Taiwanese voters away from President Tsai Ing-wen’s party and behind candidates more sympathetic to Beijing ahead of elections, Taiwanese officials said.

Beijing is test-driving its techniques in Taiwan, where it has a big stake in the politics and understands the language and culture, but deployed its cyber-capacities in the United States, Australia and other democracies, the officials said.

“We received propaganda warfare coming from China for years, but this is taking a very different form,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told Al Jazeera.

“It’s coming in not from newspapers or their propaganda machine but through our social media, online chat groups, Facebook, the zombie accounts set up, somewhere, by the Chinese government.”

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Comments from Wu and other DPP officials are in line with growing global fears that authoritarian China, like Russia, is meddling in foreign elections. Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence said Moscow’s effort “pales in comparison” to interference from Beijing.

Beijing’s mission to the UN did not respond to Al Jazeera’s interview request, but Chinese officials have previously rejected such claims as “confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air”.

‘Orchestrate misinformation’

Taiwanese voters go to the polls on Saturday to choose mayors and others in midterm elections that will reflect the popularity of the anti-Beijing DPP and Tsai, who is expected to seek re-election in 2020.

It will be Taiwan’s largest election ever with about 19 million voters, or 83 percent of the population, casting ballots for more than 11,000 officials.

False stories can be traced to foreign servers and back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and it’s so-called “50 Cent Army” of online trolls and commentators, DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng told Al Jazeera.

They typically undermine Tsai, the DPP or Taiwan’s autonomy from the mainland, while stirring up historic grievances by which some voters support the DPP and others back its main rival, the pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT).

“The US, Australia, Germany and other countries are also addressing the issue as to how countries like Russia and China use disinformation to influence domestic and electoral politics in democracies like Taiwan,” said Lo.

“It’s a more serious problem because China is so close to Taiwan, language-wise. They don’t have the cultural or language barrier and can easily fabricate news and they know the mentality of Chinese thinking, so it’s easier for them to orchestrate this misinformation.”

DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

One story suggested that Tsai was flanked by armed soldiers when visiting flood victims in Chiayi County in August. Another said some of Taiwan’s last-remaining allied governments were about to abandon Taipei.

Another said China had bussed Taiwanese nationals to safety after typhoon Jebi killed 11 and injured thousands in Japan in September, and that Taipei had let its people down – a story that reportedly led to the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Osaka.

Ahead of voting, police arrested several suspects for malicious story-sharing but, for Wu, the focus is on Taiwan’s government to counter fake news with quick, factual corrections. For Lo, plans to tighten media laws are controversial as they could violate free speech rules.

‘Entertainment’ news

Not everyone fears Beijing’s media reach, however. Eric Huang, an independent analyst with links to the KMT, said Taiwan’s voters have high rates of internet penetration and are used to the subjective news in mainstream Taiwanese media.

“Taiwanese news agencies are very editorial and opinionated along party lines already, so the people are used to biased news. They just view this information coming from China as entertainment,” Huang told Al Jazeera.

Justin Yu, a technology investor in downtown Taipei, echoed these thoughts, saying younger Taiwanese web-users are well acquainted with the competing narratives from Taipei and Beijing.

“When we were in elementary school, we were told we shouldn’t be so close to the Chinese government. Whenever we see the information, we hesitate and question whether it is real or not. I don’t think there’s a real problem and it doesn’t influence us much,” Yu told Al Jazeera.

Shoppers buy mobile phones in the capital, Taipei, which has one of the world’s highest rates of internet penetration [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Since the 2016 election of Tsai’s pro-independence DPP, Beijing has turned the screws on Taiwan, peeling away a handful of its remaining diplomatic allies, excluding it from global forums, and forcing airlines to classify Taiwan as part of China.

Three former allies – El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso – switched their allegiances to Beijing this year, and the Chinese military has stepped up encirclement drills around Taiwan, which Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

According to DPP officials, Beijing has reached deep into the breakaway island of 23 million people, sowing division and confusion through online disinformation, recruiting business figures, and funnelling cash to pro-Beijing politicians.

De facto independence

The Republic of China – Taiwan’s official name – relocated to the island in 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists fled the mainland after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s communists. It is now a democracy with de facto independence from Beijing.

Under its “one China” policy, the Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province that needs to be unified – by military force if necessary. Many analysts say China seeks to achieve the same end by flooding Taiwan with investment and buying off decision-makers.

The opposition KMT marks a continuation of Chiang’s legacy. DPP supporters typically highlight atrocities committed during Taiwan’s “white terror” and decades of martial law and call for independence from the mainland.

Last month, thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rallied in Taiwan’s capital to protest against Beijing’s “bullying” and called for a referendum on whether the self-ruled island should formally split from China.

Follow James Reinl on Twitter: @jamesreinl

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