Lunar new year flights cancelled amid air route row

China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced today the cancellation of 176 round-trip flights added during the lunar new year in February to meet increased passenger demand during the holidays. Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration have not approved the added flights in retaliation of the companies flying the northbound M503 and connecting W121, W122, and W123 routes off China’s southeastern coast, citing national security and aviation safety concerns.

M503 RouteWhile Taiwan and China agreed on using the southbound M503 route following negotiation in 2015, using the route northbound and the three W connecting routes are only supposed to start with consultation of aviation authorities on the two sides. M503 is close to the median line between Taiwan and China’s air-defense identification zones. China unilaterally opened the four routes on January 4. Continue reading “Lunar new year flights cancelled amid air route row”

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China’ playbook for conquering Taiwan

Ian Easton, author of The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia, composed an excellent piece in the Diplomat about how Beijing intends to annex Taiwan.

[Xi Jinping’s] playbook is not to win heart and minds in Taiwan. Given the stark differences between the political value systems espoused by the two sides, that would be impossible. China will instead seek to weaken hearts and minds in Taiwan. Beijing will engage in a long and intermittent war of nerves with Taipei, using advanced psychological warfare techniques to convince the Taiwanese that they are in a hopeless situation. China will apply propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, history manipulation, espionage, and economic warfare. Ultimately, Xi’s goal will be to infiltrate and subvert key pillars of Taiwan’s democracy.

We are beginning to see more Chinese fighter jets circling the island and expect more to come. We have seen diplomatic allies lured away by economic opportunities and foreign aid, while other countries shove us under the bus to get better deals with China. We saw people who supposedly represent Taiwan at the Communist Party Congress swear allegiance to Xi and the party, while the fifth column in Taiwan is protected by the very freedom and rights they are encroaching and eroding. We saw one of our own sentenced to jail for supporting democracy and human rights. Continue reading “China’ playbook for conquering Taiwan”

Taiwanese activist sentenced in Chinese court

Yueyang People’s Intermediate Court sentenced Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh to five years in jail for state subversion today. Lee was first abducted by Chinese authorities when crossing the border from Macao in March. The court held a “trial” in September.

Lee Ching-yu, Lee’s wife and fellow activist, attended the sentencing with two Straits Exchange Foundation staff and is currently confined to her hotel. Former MP Wang Li-ping (DPP) also traveled with the group but was denied entry to China after landing in Yueyang. After the sentencing, Lee stated he would not appeal the sentence and motioned that he was bugged when briefly meeting his wife.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council stated the sentence to be unacceptable and demanded Lee to be released immediately, although the demand would likely fall on deaf ears due to China cutting off official communication with Taiwan.

Better Taiwan

During Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s National Day address titled Better Taiwan today, she pledged to honor her electoral promises and accelerate reforms, safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, and to actively seek Taiwan’s place in the new international order.

In particular, she reiterated her government’s approach in dealing with China:

Our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure.
我們的善意不變、承諾不變,不會走回對抗的老路,但也不會在壓力下屈服

She did not mentioned the magic words (“1992 Consensus”) China has been looking for, which naturally drew ire from our neighbor across the strait. Yet as China seems unable to comprehend the lack of support for the so-called consensus in Taiwan, Taiwan-China relations will likely remain in its current state of no official contacts, unless something drastic happens in the upcoming 19th CPC Party Congress.

Taiwanese activist tried in China

After Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh was abducted when crossing into China almost six months ago, his wife Lee Ching-yu received a phone call from a Zhang Zhongwei on September 6. Zhang claimed to be Lee’s attorney and asked Lee’s wife to travel to Yueyang, Hunan, China, where Lee would be due to attend trial. Lee’s wife departed for China on September 10 and had to sit through what could only be described as a farce of a trial the next day.

During the trial, Lee “confessed” to charges of “subverting state power” through posting articles on Chinese social media platforms QQ, Weibo, and WeChat with the intent to “maliciously discredit” the Community Party of China and promote democracy. He also added that he received “well-rounded education” during his detention and had come to recognize the progress China made in development. He further expressed his appreciation in China’s “civilized justice system”. The court uploaded Lee’s trial in edited segments to its Weibo account. The court will sentence Lee at a later date.

We may never know what actually led to Lee’s “confession” until and if he is released back to Taiwan. Most people who voted in Taiwan’s election or anyone who has voiced support for an independent Taiwan are guilty of those “charges” Lee “confessed” to. But one thing has never been clearer: China will prosecute and hunt down whoever it wants, under whatever reasons it deems necessary, but it is definitely not convincing any sane Taiwanese that the Communist Party of China, its one-party authoritarian rule, and unification are desirable in Taiwan’s future.

Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate

After securing a lucrative investment package from China during the visit of Chinese foreigner minister in January this year, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to rename and move its trade office from the current capital, Abuja, to the commercial hub, Lagos, as well as to reduce the number of staff. Numerous negotiations between Taiwan and Nigeria followed, but to no avail.

Facing strong pressure from China, the director of Taiwan trade office was forced to leave the African country on March 31 as Nigeria could no longer guarantee his safety. Yesterday, Nigeria sent military police to close off the Taiwanese office in Abuja and forced staff to leave. Continue reading “Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate”