China’s multi-pronged campaign against Taiwanese nationalism


China is both deepening and diversifying the ways it applies pressure to Taiwan. Part of it is the recent crackdown by China’s cyberspace authorities on how foreign companies list Taiwan on their websites:

  • Hotel chain Marriott continues to deal with backlash from Chinese authorities, a week after its website and app were temporarily blocked for listing Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau as separate “countries.”
  • As we noted last week, Delta Airlines, Spanish fast fashion retailer Zara, and American medical device maker Medtronic were also warned by China’s cyberspace authorities over their online listings of Taiwan.
  • “This is a huge mistake, probably one of the biggest in my career,” the managing director of Marriott’s Asia-Pacific office told China Daily.
  • Marriott has ceased posting on “almost all” of its social media accounts since January 10, the day it got blocked in China, Bloomberg journalist David Ramli notes.
  • The company announced an “eight-point rectification plan” to ensure that it would not again cross the Chinese government. Read the plan in Chinese here.

But Beijing is not just campaigning against the places and ways that Taiwan is listed online:

  • Goods imported into mainland China from Taiwan have been destroyed, the Taipei Times reports, because their place of origin was not listed as customs agents would have liked: “Taiwan Area” (台湾地区 táiwān dìqū) or “Taiwan Area, China” (中国台湾地区 zhōngguó táiwān dìqū).
  • An airline route through the Taiwan strait announced by China has raised hackles in Taipei, and China has insisted that it “does not need Taiwan’s permission to open new air routes,” Reuters reports.
  • China is luring masses of Taiwanese young people to live, work, and teach in the mainland, a policy “innovation” of Xi Jinping, the Economist says (paywall). The magazine argues that with 400,000 Taiwanese working in the mainland and a recent poll that “shows Taiwanese feeling more warmly towards Mr. Xi than to Ms. Tsai,” Beijing may be succeeding in “nurturing a reluctance among young Taiwanese to bite the hand that feeds them.”
  • The Economist says that Lin Chong-pin, a former Taiwanese official, calls this a “soft prong” influence campaign that complements the many, more well-known harsher measures.