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Posts published in “Taiwan”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Unanimously Passes TAIPEI Act

The Senate Foreign Relations committee unanimously passed the TAIPEI Act, introduced by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado.

The Senate bill is intended to support allies of Taiwan and put pressure on countries that cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

As reported in Taiwan News:

During the committee meeting, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner said that China constantly threatens Taiwan’s democracy and that the U.S. “should use every tool to support Taiwan’s standing on the international stage.” Gardner described the act as a “whole-of-government approach” to send a clear signal to the world “that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan.”

It is gratifying to see the U.S. Congress showing bipartisan support for democracy in Asia, yesterday by unanimously passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act out of the respective House and Senate committees, and today passing the TAIPEI Act out of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. We urge Congress to pass these bills out of the entire House and Senate and send them to President Trump for his signature as soon as possible.

End of the Chinese Communist Party is Near?

The South China Morning Post has published an opinion piece by Minxin Pei arguing the we are seeing the “beginning of the end” of one-party rule in China.

Pei argues that, historically speaking, dictatorships typically last at most from 70 to 75 years. This has been true of dictatorships in Mexico, Taiwan (the KMT ruled autocratically from 1927 to 1949 on the mainland and from 1949 to 2000 in Taiwan), and the Soviet Union. The Kim family has ruled in North Korea for 71 years. Are there counter examples? The article doesn’t cite any, but many of the Chinese imperial dynasties lasted much, much longer than 75 years. Is the CCP more like dictatorships in other countries, or more like a Chinese imperial dynasty?

Pei makes other arguments based on politics, economics, military challenges, diplomacy, and domestic policy. Let’s discuss some of those issues.

Economically, China is facing challenges. The trade war with the U.S. is hurting China’s economy, despite the blustering denials coming from the CCP’s pet media outlets. From a military standpoint, even though China has been enlarging and modernizing its military, it is still far behind the U.S. military’s capabilities. Diplomatically, China’s “belt and road” initiatives and dollar diplomacy have made some headway, but China is still very much distrusted, and has few, if any, friends of consequence in the western Pacific. Japan, Korean, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Taiwan all have contentious, if not actually hostile, relationships with China. Russia has a sometimes-friendly, sometimes-not relationship with China. At this moment, China and Russia seem to be cooperating, but that could change at any time, should the relationship sour.

Domestically, the CCP has sold itself by touting the improving standard of living. Millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, there is no doubt about that. But coming from the abject state that the Chinese people lived in prior to the 1980’s, achieving that only required economic policies that weren’t completely disastrous. Much of the miraculous growth in the Chinese economy was achieved through capital investment coming from Western countries, Japan, and Taiwan. That growth has slowed, and capital from developed countries is moving into countries with cheaper labor (and better legal protections, in some cases). If the Chinese economy drops into recession, on what will the CCP base its claim to rule legitimately? It is stoking nationalism as one means, but sustained nationalism requires sustained national achievement and true pride in one’s country. With the CCP so disrespected in the world, it is hard to imagine that the Chinese people can truly believe in its legitimacy over the long term.

Dictatorships and one-party states face inherent internal contradictions. Every government, as an organization run by imperfect people, is imperfect and makes mistakes. Public and world opinion changes, natural disasters occur, new ideas arise, countries go to war, and so on. Things happen.

True democratic societies have a built-in mechanism – periodic elections – to make policy changes in response to changes in society and the world. Sometimes they are slow to respond, but they can respond in a deliberate way that reflects the will of the majority of the people (hopefully, as in the U.S., while respecting the rights of people that disagree). In essence, elections are “mini-revolutions” that allow for political challenges to be addressed through peaceful change.

Dictatorships and one-party states do not have this mechanism, so internal stresses build up that eventually lead to their downfall. They are “brittle.” They often respond to challenges either wildly or not at all. They become corrupt, as their legal systems are not fair and are bound to the policy of the one-party state; thus, they lack legitimacy. State-run economic systems cannot respond quickly to changes in markets, and so are inefficient. Historically in China, the process of a dynasty becoming weak and corrupt, unable to respond effectively to internal and external challenges, is known as “losing the mandate of heaven,” and it has always led to the downfall of the imperial dynasty, and eventual replacement by another. Is the CCP losing the “mandate of heaven?”

The modern, high-tech police state implemented in China, with ubiquitous surveillance, “social credit” scores for every person, and so on, maybe will allow the CCP to maintain its power through more efficient oppression of the Chinese people, but how long can that last? At what point do the Chinese people, with the greater access to information now than in the past, look at the rights that citizens of other countries enjoy, and say, “what about us?” Dictatorships and one-party states, like the Soviet Union, often have collapsed (as the famous quote says) “slowly, then all at once.” Will the CCP collapse in the same way?

Periods between dynasties in China have often been times of horrifying bloodshed and civil war. No one wants that in China. Could the CCP transition peacefully, allowing free elections and truly independent opposition political parties, as happened in Taiwan? That would be the best-case scenario, but it doesn’t seem likely, especially as long as Xi Jinping rules the CCP and mainland China autocratically. Could the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong spark a pro-democracy movement in the mainland? The CCP clearly is very, very afraid of that happening, but right now, that doesn’t seem likely either. In this writer’s view, the CCP is firmly in power in mainland China and will remain so, despite the challenges it faces. It may be the beginning of the end for the CCP, but sadly, the end is still far in the future.

Zhejiang University Steals/Copies Boston Dynamics Technology. Marco Rubio Pushes TAIPEI Act. Continuing Protests in Hong Kong.

While not denying that it happens, this writer has sometimes thought that the talk of China stealing much of their technology from the U.S. and other countries has been overblown. China certainly has plenty of smart engineers and scientists, so do they really need to steal that much technology? But after seeing this video, it certainly looks like some well-known technology was stolen, or at least copied, from the U.S. company Boston Dynamics.

Now look at a short clip of Boston Dynamics’ Spot Mini that will be for sale commercially soon – one of a series of similar robots that the company has developed:

The similarities are unmistakable. Was Zhejiang University’s robot technology stolen or copied? We can’t say. But it is certainly not original.

After the Solomon Islands switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to mainland China, it has been facing backlash, most prominently from Senators Marco Rubio and Cory Gardner (both Republicans). They are pushing for passage of the TAIPEI Act, which promotes diplomatic recognition of Taiwan by other countries and sanctions countries that switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to mainland China. The bill has bipartisan support, but did not pass the Senate in 2018. Given recent events in Hong Kong and elsewhere, we would not be surprised if the bill gains more support this year.

This Taiwan News article has more details: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3778287

The protests in Hong Kong continued today, with the Hong Kong police once again demonstrating that they are completely out of control and lawless, and the leadership denying that there is any problem at all. First of all:

And then, of course, Hong Kong police spokespeople saying they don’t see any problem:

There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.

Bring Taiwan into the United Nations

In an article in The Diplomat, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu, argues persuasively that Taiwan should be included in the United Nations. ChinaDailyNews agrees.

Taiwan’s government is freely, fairly, and democratically elected, and thus is a government that legitimately represents the people of Taiwan. The undemocratic, repressive, dictatorial CCP-controlled government of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing does not and never has. By what kind of twisted logic does the United Nations, an international body ostensibly committed to human rights, allow the CCP to claim that it does?

Of course, the United Nations is mostly ineffective and useless, especially the egregious “Human Rights Council,” which spends a substantial part of its time issuing resolutions condemning Israel – the one country in the Middle East that actually respects human rights.

Despite that, allowing Taiwan to participate fully in the United Nations is just and fair. It is deplorable that the UN member nations have allowed Beijing to bully them into blocking Taiwan’s participation in the community of nations as represented there. We urge the U.S. government and the other democratic, freedom-loving nations of the world to resist the CCP’s bullying and restore Taiwan’s membership in the U.N. as the Republic of China.

Taiwan Hosts TEDx Weekend

Taiwan President Tsa Ing-wen posted this:

It appears that Taiwan is working hard to improve its image and standing in the world. This is good news, and we urge the countries of the world to stand up to China’s bullying and support Taiwan.

Recently, we ran across this very interesting article by J. Michael Cole at the Taiwan Sentinel. Since 1949, when the Nationalist Party fled to Taiwan after being defeated by the communists, it has been Taiwan’s (the Republic of China’s) official policy that it is the legitimate government of all of China. In fact, that policy is enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of China. On the other hand, the CCP continues to insist that Taiwan is part of China, and does not recognize the Republic of China as the government of Taiwan. However, under the presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan has recognized the fact that the CCP controls the mainland as the People’s Republic of China.

Is there a path forward? Cole argues:

The next step, therefore, is for Taiwan to openly declare its amenability to dual recognition, an option which it could propose to the handful of states that are currently rumored to be exploring the possibility of re-establishing official ties with Taiwan.

J. Michael Cole in The Taiwan Sentinel

Here, “dual recognition” would allow the government of a country to recognize both the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) diplomatically. Thus far, neither the PRC nor the ROC have allowed that. Especially, countries that want to maintain a diplomatic relationship with Beijing have not been allowed (by Beijing) to have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. As Cole says,

No doubt, Beijing will continue to play the zero-sum game and vehemently deny the possibility that “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” can co-exist, but by ceasing to play that zero-sum game, Taipei would make it clear that the impediment to a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the Taiwan Strait lies with Beijing, not Taipei. The ball, the impediment to peace, would thereby be fully in Beijing’s camp.

J. Michael Cole in The Taiwan Sentinel

We agree with Cole. Taiwan should change its policies to allow dual recognition. In addition, because Taiwan has a free and open democratic government deserving of support, other democratic countries should stand up to Beijing’s intransigence and bullying and recognize Taiwan.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen: Taiwan is a Bastion of Democracy in the Pacific

Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, posted this tweet:

Tweet by Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan

U.S. Sells F-16 Fighters to Taiwan

Taiwan News is reporting that President Trump has approved the sale of 66 F-16V fighters to Taiwan, and that the U.S. Congress will approve the $8 billon deal.

F-16 Falcon fighter (https://www.flickr.com/photos/lockheedmartin/1115741330/in/album-72157601438408151/)

This deal will undoubtedly upset Beijing, which is already under pressure from a slowing economy, the trade war with the U.S. and the protests in Hong Kong. Along with recent sales of the advanced F-35 Lightning 2 fighters to Japan and Korea, the improved capability for Taiwan’s military enabled by the F-16 sales just adds to Beijing’s problems.

Nauru’s President Backs Taiwan

The Global Taiwan Institute reports that at the Pacific Island Forum, Nauru’s President Baron Waqa made statements supporting Taiwan’s contributions to the island nations of the Pacific.

Nauru’s President Baron Waqa

Tsai Ing-Wen: Hong Kong Must Address Protesters’ “Aspirations for Democracy”

Tsai Ing-Wen (President of Taiwan) tweeted this:

She is absolutely right. Violence by Beijing and Hong Kong’s government will not solve the problem over the long term. China must negotiate in good faith, and be willing to make concessions and guaranties of autonomy and freedom that the people of Hong Kong want and are fighting for.

The Hill Opinion: China’s worst fears: Hong Kong, Taiwan and any other democracy

The Hill opinion piece by Seth Cropsey:

If semi-autonomous, democratic-capitalist Hong Kong frightens China’s President Xi Jinping and his inner circle, the prospect of a fully independent, democratic-capitalist Taiwan — just 81 miles off the Chinese coast — must terrify them.

Seth Cropsey in The Hill

It’s long , but definitely worth reading.

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