Thursday, March 10, 2016

Thursday Short Shorts

Retaining wall construction

Experiencing colonization by Chinese, Hong Kong is increasingly sympathetic to Taiwan, with rising support for Taiwan independence:
Hong Kong people’s support for Taiwanese independence stands at 35 percent, the highest level since June 1995, a Hong Kong University POP survey shows. It also found that younger people were more likely to favour Taiwanese independence. Among 18-29-year olds, support for Taiwan nationhood stands at 67 percent.

Overall, 52 percent of those surveyed oppose independence for the island. The notion of Taiwan rejoining the United Nations received considerably more support, with 47 percent in favour and 30 percent opposed.
As a friend on Twitter pointed out, this should be read as proxy support for Hong Kong independence. Remember that this destruction of the local and different is happening all over China as Beijing forces Mandarin, simplified characters, and faux Chineseness on its disparate peoples. Hong Kongers and Taiwanese are just lucky enough to have the international media reporting on this process. Moreover, as they interact more with China and Chinese, support for Taiwan (and HKK) independence will only grow.

Passed around this week was this longer piece from Australia on whether it is time to worry about Taiwan again. It observes:
However, we would also caution against too much optimism and the notion that cross-strait conflict is now all but unlikely. Under President Xi Jinping, China has demonstrated a rather uncompromising approach to territorial disputes and the status of Taiwan is a declared ‘core interest’ of Beijing. As well, China continues to change the cross-strait military balance in its favour, potentially inviting miscalculations and instability. Moreover, Taiwan is also likely to become more important in the context of emerging East Asian power shifts and Sino-US strategic competition
As many of us have noted, since the Tsai election, commentators are less and less willing to identify Taiwan as the source of the problem, and more likely to note China's intransigence and aggressiveness, as well as locating Taiwan in the context of the hegemonic struggle between Beijing and Washington. This shift in the discourse, also caused by China's expansion in the South China Sea, is a welcome development, and may help garner support for Taiwan in Washington.

Another excellent paragraph is the one discussing how the DPP Administration can be used to de-legitimize Beijing's expansionist claims:
Finally, both allies should consider Taiwan’s potential to play an important and constructive role in SCS territorial disputes. Often overlooked, the ROC is also a claimant and, at least on paper, shares the infamous ‘nine dashed line’ with China. Under President Ma, Taiwan had made small but important steps towards a more conciliatory approach based on shelving disputes and the promotion of joint exploration. However, one of outgoing President Ma’s ‘presents’ to the Tsai government was a recent visit to Itu Aba (Taiping Island in Taiwanese) to reaffirm Taiwanese sovereignty. The visit drew an angry response from two other claimants (Vietnam and the Philippines), while the US criticised it as ‘extremely unhelpful’.35 Yet, the DPP has so far adopted a nuanced approach to the SCS, calling for all parties to assert their claims and positions in accordance with UNCLOS, maintain freedom of navigation and overflight, and work towards peaceful conflict resolution. Therefore, the Tsai government could play a critical role in delegitimising Beijing’s extensive SCS claims.36 Thus, rather than seeing Taiwan only as a security problem, Australia should also consider its potential role as a contributor to regional security and the preservation of the rules-based order.
This rationality and geographic knowledge is a welcome change from the irrational, uninformed Hugh White school of ZOMG INDEPENDENCE COULD DESTROY THE WORLD!

Against that, China is busy laying the groundwork for blaming Taiwan when Beijing finally cuts off relations. First a few days ago Xi himself was saying that independence is a no-no, then today SCMP reported on the Dean of Beijing University's Taiwan Studies Institute...
“If Taiwan’s leader [Tsai] fails to make a clear position on the 1992 consensus in her inauguration speech on May 20, it will have a great impact on the cross-strait relationship and future development,” Li Yihu, dean of Peking University’s Taiwan Studies Institute, said at a press briefing organised by the State Council Information Office.

Li said the impact would include the suspension of all official and semi-official exchanges, including talks between Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Taipei’s Mainland Affairs Council and both the non-governmental intermediaries, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and the Straits Exchange Foundation.
One of the things I constantly complain about is the way the international media portrays "tensions" as not something created by China, but as arising mysteriously by mysterious processes which the writer never identifies. Note first that Li carefully positions Tsai as the one to take the blame. Then "suspension" occurs -- not "Beijing suspending." These small reductions in Beijing's agency help conceal and smear over its actual role in creating tension and deploying it to manage the international media and foreign governments.

This should not be read as "pressure on Tsai". Instead, it should be read as preparing the ground for a break/downgrade in relations.

This article also contains a new and ominous excuse for China's behavior...
“Beijing is now facing very strong internal pressure on opposition to Taiwan independence, especially from netizens who say they will punish Tsai and other political parties with strong anti-mainland sentiment,” Liu said.
This is also preparing the ground by offering the recursive Hey, our hands are tied (by the Chinese nationalism we ourselves have whipped up) as an excuse. Scary...

Speaking of the response to Tsai Ing-wen, it looks like the tourism decline is indeed at Beijing's behest (China Post):
Repeated attempts by Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (海基會) to confirm the cut have received no official response.

Wu Pi-lian (吳碧蓮), a committee member in the Travel Quality Assurance Association and president of Cheng An Travel Service Co. (正安旅行社), said that available information indicates that the cut will take place.

Wu said yesterday that mainland Chinese travel firms had not been given formal directives, but had been guided to infer the implicit orders of government travel authorities.

"According to what we know, their superiors would, after completing half a thought, say, 'Do you understand what I mean?' And the listeners would say, 'Yes, we do,'" Wu said.
One of the most difficult aspects of Chinese society for foreigners is that people are supposed to understand things without being told. Indeed, I have heard of academics arguing that there is no secret KMT-CCP collusion -- at least, no evidence of it. Of course, anyone who understands how things work in Chinese society... doesn't need that sentence completed.

It's indicative that the Taiwan SEF can't get a confirmation/denial despite repeated attempts. Silence is telling... UDN went into greater detail, giving several examples... (via the KMT news organ):
...Yesterday, a Mainland netizen stated that his application for exit permit (the Taiwan Travel Permit for Mainland Residents 大通證) in Zhengzhou (鄭州), the capital of Henan Province (河南), was denied by Mainland authorities on the pretext that they “lacked blank permits.” The netizen said he had no other choice but to cancel his plan to visit Taiwan.

An official notice posted yesterday on the reception hall of Zhengzhou’s Exit and Entry Office read, “The Ministry of Public Security and departments of relevant ministries and agencies are proactively coordinating with each other to deal with the lack of blank exit permits for Mainland residents. Therefore, those who do not plan to travel to Taiwan in the near future, please defer your permit applications. Applications for travel permits to places other than Taiwan will not be affected.”


A state-owned travel agency in Henan said that they had received the notification from relevant authorities at 11 a.m. yesterday. According to the notification, those who had not received exit permits for Mainland residents would not be allowed to join any Taiwan package tours from March 20 to June 20; those who could not join Taiwan tours were advised to travel to places other than Taiwan.
Happy to see this. I hope they punish us harder and refuse to send even more tourists; Taiwan can quickly replace those low-value China tourists with higher value tourists from Korea and Japan. Beijing really has few options -- it can't cut off industry and trade relations since those are components of its plan to stripmine Taiwan's economic and technological prowess. It can't expel all the Taiwanese factories without seriously harming its trade not only with Taiwan, but with other nations. Beijing knows that the profits from tourism go to Chinese firms, and a tourism cut is largely symbolic and won't hurt any of its other long-term plans.
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Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if "Obama Doctrine" is the dominating guiding principle for US foreign policy moving forward:

Is this the tell-tale signs that US is moving toward isolationist? Great empire will always end. Is this the beginning of the end for US hegemony?

Anonymous said...

Preserving the liberal international order require military and economic power. Will TPP and TIPP be enough to achieve this goal?

For the past 8 years, KMT "team" seem to be just give up the fight and go with flow. They were focusing on grab as much money for themselves and their friends/cronies.

As Asia heating up due to the action of China, is DPP "team" smart enough to steer the ship through the coming storm?