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.

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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

South China Sea: The world's next big war?

UPFRONT

South China Sea: The world’s next big war?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Malawi: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Malawi

Introduction Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA the country held multiparty elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in May 2004 after a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor and subsequently started his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2005. As president, MUTHARIKA has overseen substantial economic improvement but because of political deadlock in the legislature, his minority party has been unable to pass significant

 

legislation and anti-corruption measures have stalled. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.

History The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers.

They were largely replaced by Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations. What is now called Malawi was the Maravi state, founded by the Chewa people in the 16th century. The Chewa were themselves an off-shoot of the Luba Empire. In the early to mid 19th century, they were joined by Zulu-related Ndwandwe people from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, the Ngoni, under their king Zwangendaba.

The first significant Western contact was the arrival of David Livingstone along the north shore of Lake Malawi in 1859, and subsequently Scottish Presbyterian churches establishing missions. In 1883, a consul of the British Government was accredited to the “Kings and Chiefs of Central Africa,” and in 1891, the British established the British Central Africa Protectorate, by 1907, the Nyasaland Protectorate. Although the British remained in control during the first half of the 20th century, this period was marked by a number of unsuccessful Malawian attempts to obtain independence. During the 1950s, pressure for independence increased when Nyasaland was joined with Northern and Southern Rhodesia in 1953 to form the Central African Federation. In July 1958, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda returned to the country after a long absence. He assumed leadership of the NAC, which later became the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1959, Banda was sent to Gwelo Prison in Southern Rhodesia (now Gweru) for his political activities but was released in 1960 to participate in a constitutional conference in London.

On April 15, 1961 the MCP won an overwhelming victory in elections for a new Legislative Council. In a second constitutional conference in London in November 1962, the British Government agreed to give Nyasaland self-governing status the following year. This announcement sealed the fate of the Central African Federation, which lost its reason for existence with an independent Nyasaland. Banda became Prime Minister on February 1, 1963, although the British still controlled Malawi’s financial, security, and judicial systems. A new constitution took effect in May 1963, providing for virtually complete internal self-government. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved on December 31, 1963, and Malawi became a fully independent member of the British Commonwealth on July 6, 1964. Two years later, Malawi became a republic with Dr. Banda as its first President, and was also declared a one-party state. In 1970 Banda was declared President for life (Ngwazi) of the MCP, and in 1971 Banda consolidated his power and was named President for Life of Malawi itself.

However, increasing domestic unrest and pressure from Malawian churches and from the international community led to a referendum in which the Malawian people were asked to vote for a new form of government. On June 14, 1993, the people of Malawi voted overwhelmingly in favor of multi-party democracy. Free and fair national elections were held on May 17, 1994. Bakili Muluzi, leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF), was elected President in those elections. The UDF won 82 of the 177 seats in the National Assembly and formed a coalition government with the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). That coalition disbanded in June 1996, but some of its members remained in the government. Malawi’s newly written constitution (1995) eliminated special powers previously reserved for the Malawi Congress Party. Accelerated economic liberalization and structural reform accompanied the political transition.

Malawi saw its first transition between democratically elected presidents in May 2004, when the UDF’s presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika defeated MCP candidate John Tembo and Gwanda Chakuamba, who was backed by a grouping of opposition parties. Through the politicking of party chairperson and former President Bakili Muluzi, the party successfully secured a majority by forming a “government of national unity” with several opposition parties.

Geography Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia
Geographic coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 118,480 sq km
land: 94,080 sq km
water: 24,400 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries: total: 2,881 km
border countries: Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, Zambia 837 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)
Terrain: narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m
Natural resources: limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite
Land use: arable land: 20.68%
permanent crops: 1.18%
other: 78.14% (2005)
Irrigated land: 560 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 17.3 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.01 cu km/yr (15%/5%/80%)
per capita: 78 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country’s most prominent physical feature
Politics For almost thirty one years, the government of Malawi and the Malawi Congress Party were one. When Malawi was declared a republic in 1966, the country was formally declared a one-party state. Under Banda, all citizens had to be members of the party. This situation changed in a 1993 referendum, which instituted a multiparty system. In the country’s first democratic elections, Banda and the MCP were soundly defeated.

Under the 1995 constitution, the president, who is both chief of state and head of the government, is chosen through universal direct election every five years. Malawi has a vice president who is elected with the president who is currently Bingu wa Mutharika. The president has the option of appointing a second vice president, who must be from a different political party. The members of the presidentially appointed cabinet can be drawn from either within or outside of the legislature. Malawi’s National Assembly has 193 seats, all directly elected to serve 5-year terms. The constitution also provides for a second chamber, a Senate of 80 seats, but to date no action has been taken to create the Senate. The Senate is intended to provide representation for traditional leaders and the different geographical districts, as well as various special interest groups, such as women, youth, and the disabled .

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Malawi’s judicial system, based on the English model, is made up of magisterial lower courts, a High Court, and a Supreme Court of Appeal. Local government is carried out in 27 districts within three regions administered by regional administrators and district commissioners who are appointed by the central government. Local elections, the first in the multi-party era, took place in on November 21, 2000. The UDF party won 70% of the seats in this election.

The third multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections, originally planned for May 18, 2004 were postponed by two days following a High Court appeal by the main opposition Mgwirizano (Unity) coalition. The run-up to the poll was overshadowed by opposition claims of irregularities in the voters’ roll. European Union and Commonwealth observers said although voting passed peacefully, they were concerned about “serious inadequacies” in the poll.

People Population: 13,931,831
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 46% (male 3,208,112/female 3,194,600)
15-64 years: 51.4% (male 3,592,073/female 3,563,840)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 159,450/female 213,756) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 16.8 years
male: 16.7 years
female: 16.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.39% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 41.79 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 17.89 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 90.55 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 94.69 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 86.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 43.45 years
male: 43.74 years
female: 43.15 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.67 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 14.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 900,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 84,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and plague
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian
Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Religions: Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3% (1998 census)
Languages: Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6% (1998 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.7%
male: 76.1%
female: 49.8% (2003 est.)

Taiwan is a Nation of Mature, Consolidated Democracy

(FOLKS THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TAIWAN’S ‘THE LIBERTY.COM’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

Taiwan is a Nation of Mature, Consolidated Democracy

An Interview with Dr. Lo Chih-cheng, the Democratic Progressive Party Legislator in Taiwan

 

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Lo Chih-cheng

Taiwanese politician, Legislator, Director for the Department of International Affairs, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Associate professor of Political Science at Soochow University.

Last year Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected as the president of Taiwan. This made big changes from the previous government. The former president Ma Ing-jong (馬英九) and his Chinese Nationalist Party government was relatively close to the Chinese Communist Party in China. Regarding the “One China” policy, there remains some controversy among the U.S., China and Taiwan. The following interview with Dr. Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) will benefit us for a better understanding of these issues. He is in charge of international affairs for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

 

The Meaning of Peaceful Transition of Power

Interviewer: How did you see the change of government in Taiwan last year? It was a transition from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT or Kuomintang) to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Lo: This is the third time we had a peaceful transition of power from one party to another. In 2000, we had a transition from the KMT to the DPP. In 2008, we had the DPP to the KMT. Now we are coming back to power. So, this is further evidence of consolidation of democracy in Taiwan. In other words, democracy is the rule of the game. That is, whoever is in power has to respect the will of the people. That’s very important. That makes a big difference between Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Hong Kong as well. Democracy is a very important mechanism for making policies in Taiwan, such as the Cross Strait policy, foreign policies or even defence policies. When it comes to the future of Taiwan, everybody including the leaders in parties will have to respect the will of the people. Taiwan now has a mature, consolidated democracy.

Secondly, we are in absolute control of the government. Last time, the DPP administration did not control the majority in the legislature. This time, we control the Executive Branch and also the Legislative Branch. So in general, we can get things done all by ourselves.

Thirdly, there is a difference between the first time in power and the second time. For the past eight years from 2008 to 2016, the KMT was in power and created a situation that was quite unique from the previous DPP administration. Taiwan had become very dependent on China, economically, politically and even militarily. That’s a new situation.

When Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in power, the interaction between Taiwan and China was very limited in general. We didn’t have that kind of dependency. As a matter of fact, when the Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) administration was in power, their policy was “no haste, be patient, go slow”. But when Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was in power, they very much depended on China. That puts our DPP administration in a much more difficult situation, because we hadn’t reversed this kind of dependency on China. That’s quite a different situation. We should not depend too much on China.

 

Mr. Lee, a NGO Activist Caught in China

Interviewer: Regarding China, there was an incident in March where Mr. Lee Ming-cheh (李哲明), a human rights activist, disappeared in China. He was also known as a former DPP worker.

Lo: Unfortunately Mr. Lee, a NGO activist, has been caught in China. So far, we have very limited information about his whereabouts and situation. This is further evidence that China is not a democratic country and not under the rule of law. More importantly, that will damage the mutual trust between Taiwan and China. Some Western media – the U.S. media and the European media – covered the story. I don’t know how much coverage you have in Japan.

Interviewer: I think there are very few.

Lo: I don’t think that kind of thing just happened to Taiwan. It happened to Hong Kong. That could also happen to other countries. I don’t think it’s an isolated case only for the Taiwanese people to pay attention to. It’s an incident that everybody living in free democratic countries should pay close attention to. In the past, when the DPP was in power, there was a direct hot line between our government and the counterparts in China. But when this was took place, the hot line was cut off. So, there was no direct contact. The very purpose of having the hot line is that when there was an incident, we could connect ourselves to solve the problem. But the opposite is happening. That’s an unfortunate development.

 

The U.S-Taiwan Relation in the Trump Administration

Interviewer: What is your view on U.S-Taiwan relations? Last December, the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had a phone call with Trump. That was a surprising move.

Lo: First of all, the direct phone call that happened last December was between President Tsai and President-elect Trump. That was a very unique development. After President Trump was sworn in, that kind of phone call with a direct hot line did not happen again. We know the situation is quite tough and Trump needs cooperation from China, so they want to play down the importance of this kind of direct hot line between our president and her counterpart in the United States. Having said that, our direct contacts between our representatives and his counterparts in the United States are very direct and personal. We do have a very solid, robust relationship between Taiwan and the United States.

Interviewer: In June, the Trump Administration approved a 1 billion dollar arms sale to Taiwan.

Lo: The arms sale package is a very good case in point. We welcome the arms sale to Taiwan. That’s a very important decision. The timing of the decision was very important, because there were rumours about the U.S. Navy postponing it. According to the reports, the U.S. had concerns about a possible reaction from China. I think obviously, the U.S. cared too much about any possible negative response from China. As a matter of fact, after the announcement of the arms sale package, China did not react too strongly about it. So, we hope this deal can be implemented very smoothly. More importantly, we hope that our defence cooperation can be further enhanced.

The U.S. Congress has passed several resolutions. For instance, the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), encouraged the interaction between our high-level defence officials and their counterparts in the United States. So, that’s a good development. That’s also up to the administration to decide how to implement the NDAA. Let’s just wait and see. When it comes to the relationship with the United States, it takes two to tango. Our goal is to increase interactions between the two countries – to enhance our ties. But it is also up to the United States to respond to our requests.

There are two general questions about the future of the U.S. policy towards Taiwan in particular and to Asia in general. We don’t know who’s in charge and what Trump’s doctrine is. The people in charge change very quickly. They just changed the Chief of Staff. Who’s in charge of the East Asian policy? We don’t know. When it comes to daily operations, we need someone in charge in that particular position.

 

The Differences of the “One China” Policy Between the U.S and China

Interviewer: After conversation between Tsai and Trump, the “One China” policy became controversial again. There are different views between the U.S and China.

Lo: There’s a big difference between the “One China” policy and the “One China” principle. China insists on the so-called “One China” principle. According to that principle, Taiwan’s a part of the PRC. That’s something we can’t accept. The U.S. “One China” policy has some ambiguities. There’s some room for developing the idea that Taiwan is an independent country. The very reason that the U.S. can maintain military ties with Taiwan is because of this One China policy. It is somewhat ambiguous.

At some point in time, according to President Trump, the so-called One China policy isn’t negotiable. If that’s the case, we do have concerns about that. So, Taiwan doesn’t want to be bound by the One China policy. Taiwan wants to be separated from these interactions between the two big powers. We hope to develop a very solid, robust relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. regardless of what happened between the U.S. and China. But obviously China always wants to bring Taiwan into the dialogues between the U.S. and China.

Interviewer: On a January article for The Wall Street Journal, John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., advocated that the U.S. army should station in Taiwan.

Lo: When John Bolton said that, he was not in the government. He said that because he was a scholar who had freedom of speech. He’s a very good friend of Taiwan. He has been very supportive of Taiwan. So, we appreciate those kinds of comments. But when it comes to actual policies, I don’t think that kind of policy is feasible in the near future. Of course, there were rumours last year that he may be joining the government. At the end of the day, we haven’t seen that yet.

 

Rising China’s Strategy Against Taiwan

Interviewer: Last year there was another incident. Chinese fighter jets circled Taiwan.

Lo: China is becoming stronger economically and militarily. China would definitely show their muscles to their neighbouring countries that they are stronger. Sending their aircraft carriers and their fighter jets to circle Taiwan is evidence to show that they can kick Taiwan into orbit. They don’t want Taiwan to lead the way from their sphere of influence.

Secondly, if there’s a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan is always hoping that we can sustain our survivability until other countries, especially the United States, come to our assistance. The China’s strategy is the Anti-Access Area-Denial (A2/AD). Circling Taiwan is the way to show that they have the A2/AD capabilities. That’s reasonable.

Thirdly, the Taiwan Strait is an international waters for freedom of navigation for all the ships. But to send aircraft carriers and fighter jets to circle Taiwan is the way the Chinese are hoping to show the world that the Taiwan Strait is in their sea and that it’s not international waters. It is a symbolic and political gesture.

Finally, it’s one way to substantiate their One China policy or One China principle. Taiwan will never accept the so-called One China principle. But China wants to show the world that there’s de facto One China principle, “Taiwan is a part of China” and “It is under our control”. Although it is very symbolic, it’s quite important for China.

 

The Disputed Island in the South China Sea

Interviewer: Last year, the Taiping Island in the South China Sea was disputed at the International Tribunal court of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. After its ruling denied Taiwan’s claim, you paid a visit. Could you give us tips on how to defend territorial rights?

Lo: It’s quite easy because we already control the island. We have controlled it for decades. We sent our marine guards. We continuously occupy and control it. There’s no way that other countries can ignore our actual occupation and control of it. There’s no way that we need to prove further that we have the territorial rights on the Taiping Island.

But when it comes to other islands, we claim that issues should be settled in a very peaceful way. We don’t want to use force to solve the problem. So, we are urging all the neighbouring claimant countries that we should put aside our differences. But unfortunately, when China and other claimant countries talk about the Code of Conduct in South China Sea, Taiwan has not been invited although we occupy the biggest island in the area. Taiwan is not even consulted about the issue. That’s a very unfortunate development, because Taiwan is a very important claimant of those disputed islands.

 

Disappearing Freedom in Hong Kong

Interviewer: What do you think of the situation in Hong Kong on the human rights issue? In July, the memorial event was held there.

Lo: When Beijing introduced the “One Country, Two Systems”, the goal was to make it appeal to the people in Taiwan. It’s the very reason that China used Hong Kong as a model for Taiwan. When China began to realize there was no use of using the Hong Kong model, then the importance of Hong Kong started disappearing. That’s why Beijing is tightening their control there for freedom of the press, freedom of association and so on. That’s why they began to wage some of the demonstrations on the streets.

A lot of people learned what happened in Taiwan for the past few decades. You start with the opposition movement and the opposition party. Then, you have this kind of democratic transition of power. Hong Kong is quite different. It is already controlled by China. It is a part of China. There’s not much room that can be negotiated about the future of Hong Kong. That’s why there are more and more Hong Kong people immigrating to Taiwan. They can enjoy much more freedom and democracy in Taiwan.

 

Japan and Taiwan Share Common Interests

Interviewer: What do you think the Japan-Taiwan relation should be like? The Japanese government has not recognized Taiwan as a nation.

Lo: On the bilateral relation between Taiwan and Japan, we have to start with the discussion about the nature of our relationship. I have to say that Taiwan and Japan are natural partners. We are facing many similar challenges. We have many common interests. For instance, Taiwan and Japan are both democracies. We share some of the philosophies behind our democracies, human rights, freedom, free market economy, etc. So, the two nations share some universal values. That’s a very important foundation for our bilateral relationship.

Secondly, there is a historical connection between Taiwan and Japan. We were under the colonial rule of Japan for fifty years, but there are some legacies of this kind of historical connection, for better or for worse. Especially for the older generations, people feel connected to Japan when something happens. For instance, when the tsunami and the earthquake happened in Japan, Taiwanese mobilized themselves to give some support to their Japanese friends. When asked which is the most friendly country to the Taiwanese, Japan is the number one country. The same thing can be said about the Japanese. So, we have this kind of strong people to people connection.

Both Japan and Taiwan are facing a rising China. I’m not saying that China is a threat already, but China’s increase in power in the region has put pressures on both of them. Japan and Taiwan cannot fight against the rising China by themselves. We need cooperation and coordination between the two countries in the face of the rising China. That’s very important. We have come up with a strategic interest. Having said that, we know there are some political obstacles, difficulties that we need to overcome to fully enhance our relationship.

Japan doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country in all the difficulties, in all the impossibilities. Short of this formal diplomatic recognition, there are so many things that can be done. In other words, why don’t we try our best to enhance our de facto ties between the two countries? For instance, military cooperation between the two sides. We probably can’t come to the point of a direct, joint military exercise. There is no way for now. Some sort of dialogue between our two militaries should be feasible. Probably not in public, but at least in private. As you know, Taiwan and the United States have all levels of dialogue. Starting from strategic dialogue, defence dialogue, arms sale dialogue or people to people, and military to military on a daily basis.

We don’t have that kind of thing between Taiwan and Japan. For us, we have no reservation about having this kind of dialogue. It is Japan that is more reluctant or more reserved about having this kind of dialogue. Of course, you would be under a lot of pressure from China. However, it’s about common national interests. We have overlapped national interests. So, if that is the right thing to do, we should do it. We can start with the engagement of dialogues between the two governments and the two militaries. It will require a very strong political will to do it. We do have the political will to do it. We know there’s subtlety of doing these kinds of things. We need substantial cooperation between the two countries. We should get the things done in a more substantial way.

 

How to Deal with North Korea

Interviewer: My last question is on North Korea. Kim Jong-un is continuously launching ICBMs especially in recent months.

Lo: First of all, we welcome Japan to play a more proactive role in the regional security issues. Secondly, we welcome the enhancement of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. We welcome Japan being proactive in many regional issues. As you know, China has always been very proactive in setting some agendas in the region. In the past, you had several Six-Party Talks to solve the North Korea nuclear issue. But now they have gone.

I think the Trump administration has a very naive expectation from China to help them to solve the North Korean issue. Personally, I don’t think China is sincere in helping other countries such as Japan, South Korea and the U.S., because North Korea is China’s bargaining chip. What China really wants is to contain the situation. They don’t want the escalation of crisis, but I don’t think they will help us to solve the problem. North Korea is a troublemaker. However, once the problem is solved, China will not have this bargaining chip.

Interviewer: What do you think our next move should be?

Lo: Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Taiwan should intensify their dialogues to come up with a coordinated strategy towards North Korea. North Korea’s and China’s policy is always the “divide and defeat” strategy – “divide and conquer” strategy. They want to divide the alliance countries, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. That will give them room for manoeuvring. If they can come up with an orchestrated, coordinated policy and work together with a unified position, then I don’t think North Korea can have anything to play with.

But that’s not happening now. Trump is talking to China directly, bypassing Japan and South Korea. Trump did not consult its allies before then. They think China is the only country that can help the U.S. solve the problem. I don’t think that’s the case. The U.S., Japan and South Korea should come up with a coordinated policy in a unified position. That is the only way you can counter them.

Taiwan Is Suffering From A Massive Brain Drain And The Main Beneficiary Is China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM AND ANDY TAI’S WEBSITE)

 

Taiwan Is Suffering From a Massive Brain Drain and the Main Beneficiary is China

Aug 20, 2017

Money talks. At least it did for Eddie Chen and, presumably, for many of the 420,000 of his Taiwanese compatriots who opted to earn a higher salary by working in mainland China.

Chen, 26, moved from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, to Beijing in 2014, first to study a Masters on a full scholarship, and then to work in PR for a major international company.

He earns double what he would in his native Taiwan, where starting salaries for graduates have barely risen since the late 1990s. “China has a bigger market and there is more globalization here,” he explains. “Taiwan does not offer many opportunities for young people.”

Official government statistics reveal that by 2015 over 720,000 out of Taiwan’s roughly 10-million strong workforce, 72.5% of them with an undergraduate degree or higher, had moved overseas for better job opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, neighboring China, with its common language, has absorbed the majority.

But it is also actively luring Taiwan’s best talent, contributing to an acute brain drain that not only threatens the Taiwanese economy, but has prompted fears that Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, is using its economic clout to try to buy political influence.

A recent flow of mainland initiatives to recruit Taiwanese students and entrepreneurs has jangled nerves in the self-ruled democracy that China is expanding efforts to win the loyalty of the younger generation with financial sweeteners, taking advantage of Taiwan’s sluggish economy.

China has targeted Taiwan’s educated elite for years, but a recent uptick in job and education incentives suggests a shift in tactics since cross-strait relations soured over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to accept Beijing’s policy that the island of 24 million is part of ‘One China’.

Read more: See Photos From Taiwan’s Famous Rainbow Village

Its attempts to punish Taiwan through international isolation, blocking it from United Nations meetings and poaching from its small remaining pool of diplomatic allies, appears only to have fortified Taiwanese resolve to forge their own identity.

The young in particular identify more acutely with Taiwan as their home country and China as a giant neighboring state. But the long term impact of offering millennials a higher standard of living is hard to predict.

China has made no secret of its belief that financial benefits can, over time, dilute, and eventually displace national identity and advance its unification agenda.

Reports emerged in April that Beijing would appeal to business grass-roots through the All China Federation of Taiwanese Compatriots, led by Wang Yifu, a former advisor to President Xi Jinping on Taiwan.

The plan to offer attractive study and work opportunities was followed this summer by invitations to Taiwanese local leaders and youth groups to mainland camps and cultural activities.

Last month, China’s education ministry announced it would halve the quota of Chinese students in Taiwan while relaxing entrance rules for Taiwanese at mainland universities, fueling suspicion of attempted social engineering.

Taiwan ChinaA tourism-related business worker holds a slogan reading “No Job, No Life.” during a march in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Sept. 13, 2016.  Chiang Ying-ying—AP

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees cross-strait relations, urged China to “cherish and maintain” educational exchanges, warning against “interference or restrictions.”

It reminded Taiwanese students of “major differences” between the two countries’ education systems.

But politics is the last thing on Ling Kuang-hsuan’s mind as the postgraduate student, 22, excitedly prepares to start a two year Masters course in human resources at Peking university this September.

She believes Peking’s top reputation will improve her job prospects and, like Eddie Chen, she sees her future in China.

“I hope I can stay in China and find a job…Most of my friends also hope that they can work there after they graduate,” Ling adds. “There are many international companies that don’t have a franchise in Taiwan but they do have one in China.”

Her chances are good. China’s major cities offer a thriving scene of multinational companies and lucrative incentives for start-ups.

Read more: Taiwan’s Vice President Talks to TIME About the Global Health Risks Arising From the Island’s Isolation

In 2015, Chinese e-commerce magnate, Jack Ma, announced a $330 million fund for Taiwanese entrepreneurs.

Just last month, the Taipei-based China Times reported an award of almost $400,000 for a business start-up contest for Taiwanese youth in Shanghai.

Chen admits that China’s vibrant business climate lured him back after his studies when he struggled to start a PR company in Taiwan.

“It was easy to start, but not to survive,” he says. “In Taiwan they play more a short term game. They want their investment back soon.”

The Chinese, however, treated him like a “star”, offering an office and financial incentives. “The Chinese government want people to start-up. They want this trend,” he says.

Chen sold his stake in his company to advance his career in a large international firm.

In China, ambitious Taiwanese professionals also find they can progress quicker than they would at home. “Our company is willing to give younger people more of a chance,” says Chen.

China may feel like a foreign country where “we still understand that we are different culturally and politically”, but for now it is Chen’s home. “Taiwan is much more a place for retirement,” he adds.

The roots of Taiwan’s talent deficit lie in its slow export-reliant economy and the failure to make tough reforms to attract foreign investment and to shift from previously successful labor-intensive industries towards high technology and services.

Meanwhile, neighboring China enjoys high growth. In July it reported an annual pace of 6.9% while Taiwan hovers at around 2%.

Job seekers look at job information at an employment fair in Taipei, TaiwanJob seekers look at job information at an employment fair in Taipei, Taiwan on May 28, 2016.  Tyrone Siu—REUTERS 

To add to Taiwan’s woes, graduate salaries have stagnated. In 1999, a university graduate could expect an average monthly salary of around $900. By 2016, this had risen to just $925.

“If China is growing at 6 percent a year and Taiwan is growing at 2 percent a year, which is going to be the most attractive place to go to stake out your career?” asks Michael Zielenziger, Asia expert and a managing editor at Oxford Economics, a U.K.-based economics and research consultancy.

“It’s very difficult for a young, bright Taiwanese student to ignore the bright lights, big city appeal of either China or the States. It’s a challenge to the government to make the country more attractive, to keep people at home and bring them back,” he says.

In 2012, Oxford Economics produced a survey that made the dire prediction that by 2021, Taiwan would have the biggest talent deficit in the world.

“Taiwan comes in poorly for a number of obvious factors. The population is not increasing…It’s getting older,” says Zielenziger.

Read more: ‘If We Patented General Tso’s Chicken, We’d Be Extremely Rich’: Remembering Peng Chang-kuei

Caught in a vicious cycle, low wages have left young people less inclined to start a family, contributing to declining birthrates.

Youth are resentful that Taiwan’s generous state pension system leaves, for example, retired high school teachers on a monthly stipend of around $2,250, while they struggle to make ends meet.

The resulting exodus leaves less workers to support the swelling ranks of the old, pushing the pensions system towards the brink of bankruptcy.

Gordon Sun, director of the forecasting center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, says the nature of the brain drain is exacerbating Taiwan’s economic troubles.

“They are high level managers, engineers, they are rich, their income is high,” he says.

“Most of their spending or consumption is in China. So in Taiwan our consumption cannot grow,” he argues. “We need them to come back and live here and spend here.”

Shanghai records best month for air quality in five yearsTourists visiting the promenade on the Shanghai Bund take pictures of the Lujiazui Financial District skyline in Pudong, Shanghai, China, on Sept. 26 2016.  Wang Gang—Imaginechina 

But the notion of China presenting itself as the land of opportunity in exchange for Taiwanese loyalty is misguided, believes Taipei-based analyst Michael Cole, a senior fellow at Nottingham University’s China Policy Institute.

Firstly, China has no clear strategy to win over Taiwan. “Right now, they don’t know what to do,” he argues.

“They’ve long been infatuated with notions of economic determinism. They tried that with Tibet and they tried that with Hong Kong to an extent,” Cole says.

“They still don’t seem to realize the pragmatism with which people are dealing with China, in which they recognize the opportunities for their career or for investment, but very rarely does that translate into a shift in self-identification or support for unification.”

Lo Chih-cheng, a legislator with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), agrees that young people will see through attempts to politically manipulate them.

“They want to show especially to young people, that China is their future, and Taiwan has nowhere to go to but to turn to China. That’s their strategy: Taiwan has to depend on China for economic development,” he says.

“I don’t know whether it works or not but I don’t think it will change their identity,” Lo adds. “There is a huge difference between the way of life in Taiwan and China that will reinforce their views about themselves being Taiwanese not Chinese.”

Others are more concerned that the long term impact of offering financial security to an entire generation, could slowly erode resistance to China’s political ambitions.

Unlike Hong Kong, freedom of speech and democracy is not directly under threat for now in Taiwan, giving the young fewer reasons to push back. Taiwanese identity is strong, but willingness to advocate independence less so.

Rex, 36, a Taiwanese banker, moved to Guangzhou, southern China, two years ago as he did not want to lose his job in Taiwan in middle age. “I don’t see a future for my work in Taiwan,” he says.

Read more: Many Young Taiwanese Want to Go to the Olympics With a New Flag and Anthem

He now prefers the dynamism of China compared to the more regulatory business culture at home.

Politics plays little role in Rex’s personal life, but he believes that “Taiwan and the Chinese are going to merge some day in the future, 50 or 100 years from now” for more practical reasons.

“China is just too big and in Taiwan you cannot live without China being involved in your business,” he explains.

For many who opted to stay home, the steady drip of China’s economic influence over those who left has become a touchy subject.

Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man, Jeremy, 25, who works in Shanghai was denounced online as a “communist bandit” after he urged young people to leave and seek a better life overseas.

“I have friends in Taiwan who work inconceivably hard every day. They’re up at 5am and don’t finish up with work until 9 or 10pm at night. And what for? They have no future and no hopes,” he said in a video that went viral.

A tourist from Shanghai, China goes through a health checkup organised by the hospital to promote medical tourism in TaipeiA tourist from Shanghai, China goes through a health checkup organized by a hospital to promote medical tourism in Taipei June 28, 2011.  Pichi Chuang—REUTERS 

Dr Yang Tzu-ting, a research fellow at the Institute of Economics at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, believes that a large Taiwanese labor force in China could “threaten our national security” and encourage some to become advocates for unification.

The best way for the Taiwanese government to counter this is to create better jobs and to boost the services industry, he argues.

An example would be to remove stifling annual quotas on medical training to create a health tourism sector, he says. Another would be to make universities more competitive to prevent academics escaping centralized, and low, wages.

Ross Feingold, a Taipei-based lawyer and public policy analyst, agrees that the Taiwanese government is not doing enough to stem the brain drain.

“One way to look at it is if China succeeds in getting young people to remain there during election time and not return home to vote for the DPP, that that would also work to China’s advantage,” he says.

“I think it’s just a transactional relationship where people want to have jobs that pay better and offer opportunities for promotion. Whether it builds personal affinity remains to be seen.”

Wife of Taiwan activist sees China ‘conspiracy’ behind husband’s arrest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Wife of Taiwan activist sees China ‘conspiracy’ behind husband’s arrest

The wife of a Taiwan activist accused Beijing of “political conspiracy” on Monday after she was barred from traveling to the mainland to support her husband who was detained there last month on suspicion of endangering national security.

The activist, Li Ming-che, is a community college worker known for supporting human rights in China. He went missing while traveling to China on March 19.

More than a week later, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Li had been detained on suspicion on endangering national security but gave no information on his whereabouts.

Li’s wife, Li Ching-yu, had been scheduled to fly to Beijing but told reporters at Taiwan’s international airport her permit to enter the mainland had been canceled.

“I am a weak woman who wants to visit. Is it really necessary for the Chinese government to use such great force to prevent this?” Li said.

“This action confirms to the outside world that there is political conspiracy behind the Chinese government’s arrest of Li Ming-che.”

Li’s detention has put another strain on ties between Taipei and Beijing, which have cooled since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took power last year because she refuses to concede that the island is part of China.

Tsai also leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which traditionally advocates independence for Taiwan, a red line for Beijing.

Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan into its fold, while proudly democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being run by Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

The DPP said on March 30 Li’s detention would “increase doubts for Taiwanese people traveling to China and affect normal exchanges between people of both sides”.

Taiwan activists have linked Li’s detention to a new law targeting foreign non-governmental organizations in China, which grants powers to police to question organization workers, monitor their finances and regulate their work.

Taiwan citizens use a special entry permit issued by China to travel there because China does not recognize Taiwan passports.

Over the weekend, Chinese state media reported that a letter written by Li Ming-che had been delivered to his family last Friday on humanitarian grounds.

However, according to Li Ching-yu, the letter was a copy that she could not verify was from her husband.

Li said she hoped China’s President Xi Jinping “can make sure justice is served”.

(Reporting by Damon Lin and Fabian Hamacher; Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in TAIPEI and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)