War of words across the Taiwan strait
The South China Morning Post reports that Taiwan’s new premier, William Lai 赖清德, “has openly identified himself as a supporter of independence for the island — a statement certain to incense Beijing.”
- In his first address to parliament after becoming premier in September 8, Lai answered a question by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) legislators about his views on relations with the People’s Republic of China. Lai said: “I am a political worker who advocates Taiwan independence, but I am also a pragmatic pro-Taiwan independence theorist.”
- The P.R.C. responded swiftly: Xinhua News Agency says that Ma Xiaoguang 马晓光, the spokesperson for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said that “the Chinese mainland resolutely opposes ‘Taiwan independence’ in any form and will never allow the past tragedy of national secession to be repeated.”
- Taiwan responded to Ma’s comments: Reuters reports that the island’s Mainland Affairs Council “said it did not matter what Beijing said, it was an ‘objective reality’ that the Republic of China was a sovereign state,” and that “Taiwan’s future and the development of relations across the Strait will be jointly decided by Taiwan’s 23 million people.”
What next? As Reuters points out, Beijing has already “suspended a regular dialogue mechanism with Taipei established under the previous, China-friendly government in Taiwan,” and reduced the numbers of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan. We can expect further punishment of some kind, probably economic.
In other Taiwan news, Lee Ching-yu 李凈瑜, the wife of Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che李明哲, who was detained in the mainland and accused of subverting state power, has requested a visit with her husband. The South China Morning Post reports that she said her husband’s detention was “not in compliance with any law or procedure and violates human rights conventions.”
Today in censorship
If you thought internet censorship couldn’t get any worse:
- The Beijing Daily, the capital’s Party newspaper, has published (in Chinese) remarks from the city’s Party chief, Cai Qi 蔡奇, on preparations for the upcoming 19th Party Congress. One of the security measures Cai mentions is essentially censorship — he said the city would “build an internet firewall and resolutely crack down on all kinds of political rumors and harmful information.”
- Bloomberg says that the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) responded to questions about the recent blocking of WhatsApp with a statement that “WhatsApp should take proactive measures to intercept information to do with violence and terror.” Rather comically, CAC also told Bloomberg that “China’s Internet is fully open.”
- The Washington Post has published a good roundup of the recent tightening of controls on China’s internet, including a few comments from yours truly.