Insight by Taiwan Civil Government

China, US in Soft Power Battle for Taiwan

 

This material is distributed by Global Vision Communications on behalf of the Taiwan Civil Government. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

By Neil Hare

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the wars of the 21st Century are being fought and won with soft power and not military might. Cyber-attacks, social media, “fake news,” stealing intellectual property and human capital, investment, and political meddling are being employed with far greater frequency and success than bombing raids and special forces attacks. There’s no better example than the battle over Taiwan.

Since 1979 when the US opened relations with China and instituted the “One China” policy and the policy of “strategic ambiguity,” the Taiwanese have lingered in political purgatory while two of the world’s superpowers have been at stalemate. China strongly believes that Taiwan is part of its own territory.  And while the United States has not claimed Taiwan, it has propped it up militarily and economically, and pledged to defend it against attacks with the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

The world community, manifested through the United Nations, has obviously sided with China, first by expelling the Republic of China in exile under Chiang Kai-shek from its membership, and then excluding it from observer status and from participating in sub groups like the World Health Organization.

Recently, China raised the stakes in the battle for Taiwan.  As example, China lashed out at the GAP and forced it to change a tee shirt it released with a map of China on it that did not include Taiwan. Even more egregious, China recently forced the world’s major airlines to delete any reference to Taiwan in their travel schedules, but rather, refer to its capital as Taipei, China. So far over 40 carriers have capitulated. China has also coerced the few countries who have recognized Taiwan to cease doing so, most recently Panama and the Dominican Republic. China allegedly offered the DR $3.1 billion in loans and investments to switch allegiance from Taiwan to China.

China continues to drain Taiwan of its young talent, offering high paying jobs, while interjecting propaganda into social media channels. China also invests heavily in Taiwan, literally buying up the country, which boasts the 11th largest economy in the world.

The US government has retaliated, opening a new $250 million American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) facility in June, which acts as the US’s quasi embassy. There is also talk of stationing Marines at the facility, putting US military personnel on the ground in Taiwan for the first time in decades. Congress also passed the Taiwan Travel Act this spring, facilitating travel between senior leaders of the two countries, and has authorized $1.4 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

One strongly pro-American group in Taiwan has been feeling the political pain of its convictions.  The Taiwan Civil Government (TCG) believes that after the defeat of the Japanese in World War II and under the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952, the US has legal claim to Taiwan and continues to be the “principal occupying power.” They would like to see the US regain control of Taiwan as a bridge to the Taiwanese people determining their own future.

This pro-US stance landed the leaders of the TCG, Dr. Roger Lin and his wife Julian Lin, in prison. Despite more than a decade of very public and peaceful protest, two lawsuits in the United States, and a robust global public relations effort, the Taiwan Authority accused the Lin’s of fraud. The Lin’s were recently detained for five months in prison, incommunicado and without any bail hearing. And, while they were released on bail temporarily, they were detained a second time and forced to pay additional bail for their release. They now live in constant fear.

Just as the Taiwanese people have been denied their human right, the Lin’s are being bullied and coerced for exercising their right to free speech and the legal rights we would deem fair in the US. In the wake of China’s efforts to suppress corporate references towards Taiwan and influence diplomatic rejection of Taiwan, it is no surprise that the Lin’s pro-US position is now being cloistered as well.

The United States must reconsider their approach to Taiwan by formally recognizing it. In addition, the US should stand up for the Lin’s and tell the Taiwanese Authority to drop all charges against them. The future and foundation of Taiwan depends on it.