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Taiwanese Nationalists Seek Closer Relations with China

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 12, 2020

In the the Kuomingtang (KMT), the Nationalist Party of Taiwan, election held on Saturday, Jiang Kai (commonly known in the West as Johnny Chiang) was selected as a new head of the political party. According to Taiwanese media, Jiang Kai will change the KMT’s policy towards mainland China. The press draws such conclusions based on the KMT’s new president’s statement about the 1992 consensus, also known as the One China Consensus, as “somewhat outdated.”

In the presidential election held on January 11, KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu, a former mayor of Kaohsiung City, lost to Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). In addition, the DPP still occupies the majority of seats in the Legislature.

In the election for the new party chairman, Jiang Kai only had a single opponent – the former Taipei mayor, Zhu Lilun (commonly known in the West as Eric Chu). He overcame his opponent with 84,860 votes compared to 38,483 votes, however it is worth noting that only 35% of voters bothered to vote. Taiwanese authorities claim that such a low rate is due to the coronavirus epidemic. In his speech after announcing the conclusion of voting, Jiang revealed that the KMT needs to make some changes to meet the spirit of the times, and he will make these changes within a year. The KMT are no longer as conservative as they once used to be, and in this way, Jiang is hoping to attract a part of the DPP’s voters who are generally younger and more progressive than the KMT.

For example, the KMT opposes same-sex marriage, but the law is still valid because the DPP legislature occupies the majority of seats. And among young Taiwanese, not just in the LGBT community, the legalization of such relationships is considered the greatest achievement since democracy reached Taiwan. An even more important contradiction between the two parties: the so-called 1992 consensus and the concept of “one China” (united China). The DPP does not recognize this consensus and the KMT has supported relations with mainland China, something the DPP are extremely hostile to. Clearly, the KMT now wants to move on to resolve internal issues, such as attracting new voters, and then resolve relations with Beijing. That’s why the KMT must begin entertaining the idea of making some changes to the 1992 consensus.

How will the new KMT party chairman and changes in the party’s policy affect Beijing? The last election showed that the DPP won the populist wave in the context of social disturbances in Hong Kong, and now they are also using the Covid-19 epidemic for political purposes to prove the validity of not strengthening relations with Beijing. The anti-Beijing DPP has prevented relations from becoming closer with Taipei, despite Taiwan’s economy suffering greatly just because its relationship with mainland China has cooled. This economic factor was especially felt when Beijing stopped granting licenses to travel companies to go to Taiwan which saw the number of tourists decrease by nearly a third. Agricultural imports into mainland China have plummeted, even though two years ago China purchased 20% of agricultural products worth nearly $1 billion. Taking into account the damage that coronavirus outbreaks has caused worldwide, economic development may become the most important task. The KMT will then try to balance domestic political interests and not move too far away from mainland China.

This spells bad news for the U.S. as they have been the main backers of Taiwan since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 when the KMT were defeated by communist guerrillas and forced to leave the Chinese mainland. Taiwan’s modern history lays with the U.S.-backed authoritarian regime of General Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of the KMT. Chiang then imposed martial law and became dictator of Taiwan for the next 38 years, before a gradual democratization was achieved and presidential elections in 1996. The resentment of losing mainland China to the communists and the permanent deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers has ensured that Taiwan, an island located just off the coast of China’s Fujian province, is a major U.S. pressure point against Beijing.

Although the days of Chiang and the KMT believing they are an exile government is long over, they still believe in One China, a stark difference to that of the DPP who want complete sovereignty and independence in their own right and reject One China. With the KMT seeking closer relations with Beijing despite once being mortal enemies, their inevitable return to power in the future could mean that they will begin to de-Americanize Taiwan as they seek closer relations, particularly for stability and economic reasons, with China, recognizing that we now live in a multipolar world order.

A de-Americanized Taiwan effectively means that the U.S. will lose a major submissive partner that acted as a thorn to Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea, and it is unlikely that Washington will accept this reality so easily. None-the-less, as the KMT changes its policies to attract the younger generation, it can see a real potential for One China to be achieved and the U.S. expelled from the island just as calls for the U.S. military to leave South Korea and Japan also intensify.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

March 12, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

North Korea pitched state-of-the-art submarine system to Taiwan military: report

By Sophia Yang -Taiwan News – 2019/04/05

TAIPEI — As Taiwan’s first indigenous submarine project is underway, media reported the North Korean government years ago reached out to Taiwan’s military in an attempt to sell its advanced marine propulsion technology – Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) – for the project.

People familiar with the matter told UPmedia that a number of submarine builders and software providers from the United States, Europe among 16 other countries showed their interest in participating in the country’s indigenous submarine project. To the military department’s surprise, the North Korean military was among the bidders, reportedly pitching their products through a Taiwanese trading company.

The name of the trading company was not disclosed in the news story.

The report indicated that the company was pitching on behalf of the isolated nation, which has been enduring severe financial stress under the sanctions imposed by international bodies and a number of countries. The products on the list included North Korea’s miniature Yono-class submarine, Yugo-class submarine, Sang-O-class submarine, as well as the North Korean self-made AIP system.

The system is believed to enable the submarine to remain submerged for up to four weeks to better extend its underwater endurance, compared to an underwater endurance of only a few days in traditional diesel-electric submarines.

A submarine expert working for Taiwan’s military reportedly made a fact-checking trip years ago to the China-DPRK border city of Dandong to meet the North Korean military officials, from whom the expert verified the authenticity of the bid and its capability to carry out the task. However, Taiwan’s military eventually didn’t consider the technologies out of concern that it would violate UN sanctions against North Korea.

Also, recently at a press event, a military official told media that Taiwan’s first indigenous submarine would not be equipped with the advanced and expensive AIP system, but will consider it for the other indigenous submarines in the future.

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

US Blocks $199Mln in Assets Belonging to Iran, Syria, N Korea in 2017 – Treasury

Sputnik – 07.11.2018

WASHINGTON – The United States blocked nearly $200 million in assets belonging to Syria, Iran, and North Korea in 2017 as a result of the sanctions imposed on the three countries, the Treasury Department said in its annual report to Congress released on Wednesday.

“Approximately $199 million in assets relating to the three designated state sponsors of terrorism in 2017 have been identified by OFAC as blocked pursuant to economic sanctions imposed by the United States,” the report said.

The statement comes days after the US fully reinstated sanctions against Iran, including measures that curb Tehran’s oil industry. At the same time, the United States temporarily exempted eight nations — China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — from the sanctions on importing oil from Iran.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimpose sanctions against Tehran that were previously lifted under the accord, including secondary restrictions.

The first round of the US sanctions was reimposed in August, while the second round, targeting over 700 Iranian individuals, entities, banks, aircraft and vessels, came into force this week.

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China becomes Trump’s indispensable partner

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 29, 2018

On Wednesday, the Chinese ambassador to the United States briefed the National Security Council in the White House regarding the visit by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Beijing. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later expressed cautious optimism that in their estimation, “things are moving in the right direction” and the meeting in Beijing between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping was “a good indication that the maximum pressure campaign (on North Korea) has been working.” She said:

  • You saw him (Kim) leave for the first time — since becoming the leader of North Korea — for that meeting. And we consider that to be a positive sign that the maximum pressure campaign is continuing to work. And we’re going to continue moving forward in this process in hopes for a meeting down the road.
  • Certainly we would like to see this (end-May meeting between Trump and Kim). Obviously this is something of global importance and we want to make sure that it’s done as soon as we can, but we also want to make sure it’s done properly. And we’re working towards that goal. As we’ve said before, the North Koreans have made that offer and we’ve accepted, and we’re moving forward in that process.

Trump himself gave thumbs-up. He tweeted: “For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”

Evidently, Beijing transmitted some extraordinarily hopeful tidings. The remarks by former US state secretary James Baker (who still remains an influential voice in the conservative spectrum) praising China’s role suggests that Beijing is moving in tandem with the Trump administration. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Baker said:

  • “I think it’s too bad that there wasn’t some way that we could work with the Chinese to achieve this, this result of denuclearization of the peninsula. China is the only country in the world that really has any influence, significant influence on North Korea.”
  • “I would have sent some high-level envoy to Xi Jinping, the president of China, that the Chinese trust and have confidence in. And I would have said, ‘Look, you don’t like what’s going on in the Korean Peninsula. We don’t like what’s going on. Why don’t we cooperate to stop it?”
  • “We, the United States, will support any government you (China) install in North Korea, provided they repudiate the acquisition or maintenance of nuclear weapons. We will trade with that government, we will establish diplomatic relations, we will execute a peace treaty ending the Korean War. Your (China’s) job is to put a government in place there that is different than this government.” (See the video of the interview.)

There is great poignancy here in these remarks because Baker had played a key role under President Ronald Reagan (Trump’s role model) negotiating the end of the Cold War in the 1980s face to face with Mikhail Gorbachev.

China has positioned itself brilliantly as the facilitator-cum-partner-cum-ally-cum-friend – depending on who its interlocutor on the Korean Question happens to be. Xi deputed politburo member Yang Jiechi as his special envoy to visit Seoul to brief the South Korean leadership, even as preparatory talks for the inter-Korean summit in April were scheduled in the DMZ in Panmunjom. Evidently, Yang had a hand in the positive outcome today at the Panmunjom meeting where there is agreement to schedule the inter-Korean summit on April 27. (here and here)

Quite obviously, there are processes today that are beyond the US’ control. Again, the US’ number one ally in Northeast Asia – Japan – has been marginalized. No one set out from Beijing to brief Tokyo. Inevitably, there are conspiracy theories. The London Times newspaper resuscitated today the hackneyed thesis that China is driving a wedge between the US and South Korea. But that seductive conspiracy theory underestimates that China is, in actuality, playing for far higher stakes in its rise on the global stage as a great power.

To be sure, history is in the making. If, as Baker says, the US is willing to normalize with North Korea and conclude a peace treaty to bring the Korean War to a formal end, the raison d’etre of continued US military presence in South Korea (on which there is significant local opposition already) becomes unsustainable. That impacts the overall US power projection in Asia. Again, if the North Korean problem is resolved peacefully, can the Taiwan Question be far behind?

Equally, China must know that there is no quick fix to the North Korean problem and it suits China to leverage the US’ critical dependence on its cooperation for the long haul – which in turn can stabilize the Sino-American relationship itself and open a new era of big-power relationship based on trust, mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s core interests, which Beijing has been assiduously seeking.

On the other hand, Trump is well aware that if he can swing a deal on North Korea, it will significantly boost his re-election bid in 2020. Wouldn’t China know it, too? (Read my column in The Week magazine recently – The art of the Korean deal.)

March 30, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear protests in Taiwan draw tens of thousands

DW | March 8, 2014

Tens of thousands have marched in anti-nuclear protests across Taiwan, calling on the government to phase out nuclear energy. The protest comes ahead of the third anniversary of the Fukishima disaster.

Anti-nuclear protesters in Taiwan held four rallies across the country on Saturday, urging the government both to stop construction of a new nuclear power plant and to abandon nuclear power altogether.

Organizers said some 50,000 people attended the protest march and rally in the capital, Taipei, while three other events held simultaneously in other parts of the country drew a combined total of some 30,000.

The Taipei protest was attended by members both of opposition parties and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

Concern about the risks posed by Taiwan’s atomic power plants has been growing since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami unleashed a nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant on March 11, 2011.

Taiwan is also regularly hit by earthquakes, raising fears that its currently three nuclear facilities may be similarly vulnerable.

Protesters called on the government to cease construction work on a fourth plant that is being built in a coastal town near Taipei. The plant was originally scheduled to be completed by 2004, but the project has been delayed by political wrangling.

Several polls conducted last year showed that about 70 percent of Taiwanese oppose the building of the plant, which is situated near undersea volcanoes.

The existing plants furnish about 20 percent of the country’s energy needs.

(dpa, AFP)

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment