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.
While 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”
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.”
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”
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.
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):
Continue reading “Matters of the heart and soul”
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:
[Taiwan is a sovereign independent country, and its current name is the Republic of China.]
Continue reading “Independence v. Unification”