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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Prosecutors searched and questioned pro-unification party officials

Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau and police searched the homes of four New Party officials early Tuesday morning. Investigators entered New Party spokesperson Wang Bingzhong’s home with a search warrant after a 40-minute standoff, streamed lived on Wang’s Facebook page. Three other party members, all considered the upcoming new blood of the party, were searched and questioned before being released past midnight on Wednesday. Investigation Bureau did not provide additional details, but it is speculated that the searches are connected with Zhou Hongxu, a Chinese citizen serving a 14-month sentence for attempting to bribe a Taiwanese diplomat and recruit spies for China.

New Party was originally a faction within Kuomintang, but splintered off in 1993. It is a conservative party supporting Chinese unification (Group E on the spectrum). The party was once the third largest political party in Taiwan after the KMT and DPP, winning 21 and 11 seats in the Legislative Yuan in 1995 and 1998. It has since failed to garner support for electoral success, currently occupying no seats in the legislature and two seats in the Taipei City Council. New Party Chairman Yu Muming denounced the searches as politically-motivated, citing the party’s lack of governing status and lack of access to any classified information. Yu and a New Party delegation including Wang had just returned from a trip meeting Communist Party of China officials last week.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office condemned the moves “oppressing pro-unification forces”, while Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council countered the importance of judicial independence and expressed disapproval over “external intervention and commenting… [and] misunderstanding of democracy and rule of law.”

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.

Matters of the heart and soul

During the 19th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of China last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered the following about Taiwan in his speech (begins towards the bottom of page 50):

解决台湾问题、实现祖国完全统一,是全体中华儿女共同愿望,是中华民族根本利益所在。必须继续坚持“和平统一、一国两制”方针,推动两岸关系和平发展,推进祖国和平统一进程。

一个中国原则是两岸关系的政治基础。体现一个中国原则的”九二共识”明确界定了两岸关系的根本性质,是确保两岸关系和平发展的关键。承认”九二共识”的历史事实,认同两岸同属一个中国,两岸双方就能开展对话,协商解决两岸同胞关心的问题,台湾任何政党和团体同大陆交往也不会存在障碍。

两岸同胞是命运与共的骨肉兄弟,是血浓于水的一家人。我们秉持”两岸一家亲”理念,尊重台湾现有的社会制度和台湾同胞生活方式,愿意率先同台湾同胞分享大陆发展的机遇。我们将扩大两岸经济文化交流合作,实现互利互惠,逐步为台湾同胞在大陆学习、创业、就业、生活提供与大陆同胞同等的待遇,增进台湾同胞福祉。我们将推动两岸同胞共同弘扬中华文化,促进心灵契合。

我们坚决维护国家主权和领土完整,绝不容忍国家分裂的历史悲剧重演。一切分裂祖国的活动都必将遭到全体中国人坚决反对。我们有坚定的意志、充分的信心、足够的能力挫败任何形式的”台独”分裂图谋。我们绝不允许任何人、任何组织、任何政党、在任何时候、以任何形式、把任何一块中国领土从中国分裂出去!

Continue reading “Matters of the heart and soul”

Independence v. Unification

Two independence movements were buzzing in Taiwan in the past few weeks, with Catalonia seeking independence from Spain and Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly for separation from Iraq. Both ongoing events sparked new discussions on whether Taiwan should be holding an independence referendum, and how China and the rest of the world might respond if a vote took place.

Much like other complicated political problems in the world, however, it is not as simple as an independence referendum. For one thing, there remains large divides within the Taiwanese population on the status of Taiwan as an independent state as well as what that state, if actually independent, should be called. The Taiwan National Security Surveys designed by Duke University and conducted by National Chengchi University in 2016 showed that more than 70% of people surveyed agreed with the following statement:

 台灣是一個主權獨立的國家,它現在的名字叫做中華民國。
[Taiwan is a sovereign independent country, and its current name is the Republic of China.]

Continue reading “Independence v. Unification”