The Taiwan government on Friday said it would not allow Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer to visit in December, in another sign of China's increasing clout over the island. Kadeer, the U.S.-based leader of the World Uyghur Congress, had accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan and applied for a visa. But the government said Kadeer's visit would hurt Taiwan's national interests, citing terrorist links that have been claimed by Beijing but not accepted by most western countries or independent analysts.Progress! One day I hope to see the forthright declaration that Beijing has never submitted any evidence for its claims. Great work. The full-length article goes into some detail discussing the KMT claims and the pro-Taiwan sides' rebuttals, along with the fear that, as I have noted many times, the closer we get to China, the farther we get from democracy.
Also on the Kadeer affair, WSJ offered an excellent editorial today that looks at the problems for the island nation's democracy that result from the Ma Administration's kow-tow to Beijing.
Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou was elected last year largely to improve the island's economy through closer links with China. His government is misinterpreting that mandate to include closer ties with China's authoritarian politics, too.The article notes, as every observer has, that other nations have had no trouble admitting Ms. Kadeer, and that Taipei does not have the Uighurs on any list of terrorists. It then points out the paternalism of the government's response:
There's no other way to interpret Taipei's decision to refuse an entry visa to Rebiya Kadeer. The Uighur activist was invited by a local rock star Wednesday to visit the island in December. The Ma government shut that idea down fast. Interior minister Chiang Yi-hua told parliamentarians Friday that Ms. Kadeer's World Uighur Congress "is related to terrorist groups" and thus couldn't visit the island. Premier Wu Den-yih added the decision was "in the best interests of Taiwan and its people."
As for the claim that it's in citizens' "best interests" not to listen to Ms. Kadeer, surely that's a decision for the individual, not for the government, to make—a choice made possible in a democracy. Taiwan is home to a variety of pro- and anti-China groups, both of whose views are covered extensively in the island's lively media. Why not let Mrs. Kadeer present her evidence of China's brutal campaign against the Uighurs and then let citizens decide what they think?The government has repeatedly permitted individuals who have made threats to kill Taiwanese, such as this fellow, to move about freely in Taiwan. Kadeer, on the other hand, threatens no one. WSJ continues:
By refusing Ms.Kadeer a visa—before she even applied, no less—the Ma government is appeasing China. Shortly after Ms. Kadeer's trip was announced, Chinese state-run media threatened to pull Beijing's support for Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization and to halt cross-Strait economic liberalization. Beijing raised a similar fuss when Taipei let the Dalai Lama visit the island earlier this month to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.It is easy to see how China's dribble of concessions on the WHO is being used here. It can be revoked any time, since it exists solely at the pleasure of Beijing, and thus, represents a hold over the Ma Administration. As WSJ observes, the kowtow here means that the Ma Administration is losing its leverage, since Beijing can constrain its freedom of action by threatening to withdraw any of the tiny drabs of benevolence it has dropped on Ma's head. The DPP had the right idea -- no compromises, bargain for concrete gains only. That is the only way to deal with China.
For a couple of years, long before the election, it's been clear that Ma has staked the future of his administration on the willingness of China to cooperate. What this means is that China's control is absolute -- since China has no incentive to help KMT, the KMT will be forced to offer more and more concessions to get anything out of Beijing. Since Ma and the KMT, unlike the DPP, do not draw the line at sovereignty, where is the limit on what the Blues will be willing to concede? We got a little taste today, when Taipei completely capitulated to Beijing, and echoed the line that an old woman who is a millionaire businessman is a terrorist.
And let's not forget that some of those far right Nationalist nutcases within the KMT still think that Xinjiang is rightfully China's, just like Mongolia, Tibet, Taiwan, and heaven knows what else. There is more at work here than mere kowtowing in the hope of getting Beijing to keep the benefit taps flowing.
It will be interesting to see whether voters punish the KMT for its accelerating acceptance of Beijing-centered politics.
It will also be interesting to watch the "centrist" apologists for the KMT come out in droves over the next few days. Kadeer was a stunt that threatened Taiwan's economic livelihood! they will screech, invoking the hidden, and false, dichotomy between democracy and economic growth. Hogwash -- not a single businessman in China has been threatened, not a single export halted at customs, not a single traveler molested. Beijing almost never takes concrete action, only symbolic action (as in the delayed arrival of minor negotiators over the Dalai Lama visit) aimed at the media, to enable them to gush reports of "tension" like 16 year olds swooning over Elvis.
Nope: the Kadeer invitation was a scalpel that exposed the burgeoning pro-Beijing cancer at the heart of Taiwan politics.
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