Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jamestown Brief Twofer

Here I am on a marathon Game of Thrones HBO tv version watchfest with the family. If you haven't read A Song of Ice and Fire, make it a priority. The first book is incredible; the third book is one of the great feats of pure storytelling. Two, four and five are merely awesome.

It seems somehow to have Game of Thrones for a backdrop to two strong Taiwan-related pieces at the Jamestown Brief. First, Michael Chase points out how limited China's reaction to the F-16 upgrades has been. The reasons:
Given that Chinese objections seem to focus more on the political symbolism of U.S. backing for Taiwan than anything else, what explains China’s apparently moderate substantive response to the latest arms sales? Chinese analysts suggested Beijing’s relatively restrained reaction was a function of several factors. These included the latest arms sales package, Beijing’s concerns about how a stronger reaction might impact domestic politics in Taiwan before its January 2012 presidential and legislative elections and how it might influence U.S.-China relations ahead of the upcoming leadership succession in China. First, that the package did not include the requested new F-16C/Ds probably made it easier for Beijing to take a more restrained tack than if the new fighters had been part of the deal, given the perceived symbolic importance of the potential sale of new fighters. Another motive seems to be minimizing the risk of upsetting cross-Strait relations in ways that could undermine President Ma Ying-jeou's chances of reelection or bolster the opposition in Taiwan ahead of the island’s elections in January (Liberation Daily, September 23). Domestic politics in China and the need for a stable U.S.-China relationship also seem to have been relevant. Professor Shi Yinhong of Renmin University attributed the muted response to the Chinese leadership’s desire to avoid creating problems ahead of Vice President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to the United States in early 2012, especially with a leadership transition later next year in which Xi is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as China’s leader (Christian Science Monitor, September 27).
Looking from the outside, China's muted reaction also appears to have been arranged in advance in talks between Washington and Beijing.

John Dotson has a good piece on how exchanges between Chinese and ROC military officers give insight into the developing United Front between the CCP and the KMT to prevent Taiwan independence. A taste:
The common thread in these officer exchanges is the sponsorship role of the Huangpu Academy Alumni Association (Huangpu junxiao tongxue hui). The Huangpu Alumni Association is nominally a civic organization in China for graduates of the Huangpu (Whampoa) Military Academy, an officers’ training college founded in Guangzhou in 1924 that produced many graduates who later became prominent figures in both the Kuomintang and Communist causes. The Huangpu link has long been a factor in Chinese outreach to Taiwan. When China’s “Nine Principles for Peaceful Unification” were unveiled in 1981, their leading spokesman was PLA Marshall Ye Jianying, a Huangpu alumnus with many old classmates in Kuomintang uniforms across the Strait.

Although it appears on the surface to be a privately organized, person-to-person initiative, the Taiwan officers’ exchange program is actually a project of the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD). The Huangpu Alumni Association is a thinly-disguised front organization operated by the UFWD. It is one of several entities identified by name on a United Front Work Department website as organizations managed by the UFWD. At a UFWD-hosted reception in January , UFWD Vice Director You Lantian praised the Alumni Association for its "outstanding achievements in Taiwan work," and expressed confidence that it would "continue to adhere to the policy of the central authorities for Taiwan work... and make new contributions for the peaceful reunification of the Motherland" (, January 25).
Dotson gives a timeline of the recent exchanges, though in fact the trend of contacts goes back to the 1990s. By the late 1990s hundreds of retired Taiwan military were living in China. Dotson also points out that this effort has borne little fruit in influencing policy, though no doubt its intelligence harvest has been vast. The effort is aimed at the fading generation of old military officers from China, while the upcoming officer core has much different values.
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1 comment:

Gilman Grundy said...

I swear I know the station in the photo - is it Taizhong?