Last week the news stated that China had offered to escort Taiwanese vessels through the pirate-infested waters off Somalia. Lawrence Chung reported for SCMP:
The Taiwanese government tried to distance itself yesterday from a claim that the People's Liberation Army had provided a naval escort for a Taiwanese vessel in pirate-infested Somali waters.The China Post had a clearer version of the MAC's weaseling explanation to the effect that the Taiwanese-owned vessel was not really a Taiwanese-owned vessel:
The mainland military's action has placed Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's administration in an embarrassing position, opening up an opportunity for the island's pro-independence camp to attack it.
Asked to comment, Mainland Affairs Council vice-chairman Chao Chien-min said the vessel was not flying Taiwan's flag.
"It should not be [considered] a Taiwan-registered vessel, but a vessel registered in Liberia and rented to a South Korean [company]," he said. "There is no question of our vessels seeking protection from mainland China."
The council is the island's top mainland policy-making body.
His comments came after Beijing said the PLA ship had recently escorted a Taiwanese vessel and three other vessels through the Gulf of Aden.
A Mainland Affairs Council official said yesterday that the Chinese navy's escort of a Taiwanese ship in the Gulf of Aden to protect it from pirate attacks was not arranged by Taiwan and that the ship was not registered in Taiwan or being used by a local company.The Post's position is that there really was a Taiwan tanker escorted by China, which MAC confirmed in its denial. The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) took the position that because Formosa Plastics had rented the ship to South Korea, then it wasn't a Taiwan ship. In a way that might be true for political purposes; after all, Formosa Plastics probably did not determine the route and schedule for that particular vessel. Still, China can play this for what it is worth.
Chao Chien-min, vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), made the statement in response to a report by China's Xinhua news agency that Chinese naval vessels escorted four merchant ships, including a tanker from Taiwan, in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia.
The council had previously said it would not request or accept assistance for Taiwanese ships from the Chinese naval fleet, but that pledge seemed to be ignored when one of the ships escorted Monday was an oil products tanker belonging to Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group named Formosa Product Cosmos.
The MAC, however, denied any involvement in arranging the 553-nautical-mile escort and said the ship was registered in Liberia and rented out to a South Korean company.
The move seems to be one of a larger operation aimed at Taiwan. I heard through the grapevine that China has ordered its embassies to assist Taiwanese abroad as if they were Chinese.
Reuters reports on the sad news that China is going to globalize its media to expand its soft power. We'll be dealing with an even greater flow of crap in the international media, as well as even more westerners purchased with Chinese money. The USSR never really understood the lesson that everything in the West is for sale; the Chinese know it in their guts.
Hat tip to Joe M. for putting up this link to Obama's new Intel guy who happens to have some "China expertise" (translation: appears to be "pro-engagement" panda hugger):
Blair had been outspoken publicly about greater diplomacy with China. He had also privately criticized Taiwan for pushing too much for independence when it already has de facto independence.
Journalist Andrew Cockburn had this to say about Rumsfeld's views of Blair in his 2007 book Rumsfeld:"Admiral Dennis Blair, commander of the Pacific Fleet, was deemed a rising star by his peers, a strong candidate for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But he did not share the new official orthodoxy that China was emerging as a threat, and said so in public. Blair's service career promptly withered and he retired soon after. Rumsfeld took an especial delight in disturbing the delicate minuet of service politics."But lest anyone label Blair a panda-hugger, consider that he once reportedly told Chinese officials: "I'm not worried about you taking Taiwan because, even if you get across the straits, you can't maintain it, you can't protect it."
How on earth a statement saying the Chinese couldn't hold Taiwan makes Blair not a panda hugger is beyond me. For more of Blair's views on China, see this 2007 interview.
UPDATE: Brezinski is in Beijing this week, and left his thoughts in the FT. Japan Focus hosts a detailed piece on East Asian Regionalism in the post-US world -- which treats Taiwan (in passing, of course) as a headache that is caused by the intransigence of Washington. Lots of people still don't get it: in the post-US world, "East Asian Regionalism" is going to mean a Co-Prosperity Sphere centered on Beijing.