(Reuters) TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s president rejected on Thursday a “one country, two systems” formula that Beijing has suggested could be used to unify the island and the mainland, saying such an arrangement had set Hong Kong “on the edge of disorder”.
President Tsai Ing-wen also vowed in a National Day speech to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, saying her government would safeguard freedom and democracy as Beijing ramps up pressure on the self-ruled island it considers a wayward province.
Tsai, who is seeking re-election in January amid criticism of her policy towards China, referred to the arrangement for the return of the former British colony of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997 as a failure.
Hong Kong has been hit by months of anti-government protests triggered by widespread resentment of what many city residents see as relentless efforts by Beijing to exert control of their city despite the promises of autonomy.
China has proposed that Taiwan be brought under Chinese rule under a similar arrangement, but Tsai said Beijing’s policies towards the island were a danger to regional stability.
“China is still threatening to impose its ‘one country, two systems’ model for Taiwan. Their diplomatic offensives and military coercion pose a serious challenge to regional stability and peace,” Tsai said.
“When freedom and democracy are challenged, and when the Republic of China’s existence and development are threatened, we must stand up and defend ourselves,” Tsai said, referring to Taiwan by its official name.
“The overwhelming consensus among Taiwan’s 23 million people is our rejection of ‘one country, two systems,’ regardless of party affiliation or political position.”
Taiwan’s National Day, marking the anniversary of the start of a 1911 uprising that led to the end of dynastic rule in China and the founding of a republic, was celebrated in Taipei with singing, dancing and parades.
Cold War hostility between the island and the mainland had eased over the past decade or so as both sides focused more on expanding business ties, but relations have cooled considerably since Tsai took office in 2016.
China suspects Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party of pushing for the island’s formal independence, and this year threatened it with war if there was any such move.
Tsai denies seeking independence and reiterated that she would not unilaterally change the status quo with China.
Despite her assurances, Beijing has stepped up pressure on the island to seek “reunification” and backed up its warnings by flying regular bomber patrols around it.
Beijing also says Taiwan does not have the right to state-to-state relations and is keen to isolate it diplomatically.
Seven countries have severed diplomatic ties with the Taiwan and switched allegiance to Beijing since Tsai coming to power. It now has formal diplomatic ties with just 15 nations.
But Tsai said Taiwan was undaunted.
“The determination of the Taiwanese people to embrace the world has never wavered,” she said, adding that Taiwan must work with “like-minded countries” to ensure peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Tsai said under her watch Taiwan has boosted its combat capabilities with the purchase of advanced weapons and development of home-made aircraft.Slideshow (7 Images)
Taiwan unveiled its largest defense spending increase in more than a decade in August, aiming to purchase more advanced weapons from overseas.
The island has long been a flashpoint in the U.S.-China relationship.
In July, the United States approved the sale of an $2.2 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan, angering Beijing.
The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.
China’s fury is certain; its retaliation unpredictable
FOR TAIWAN, there is nothing like an American president who is not squeamish about outraging China. Even before he took office, Donald Trump stirred indignation in Beijing by taking a congratulatory phone call just after his election from Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan. (China saw this as a breach of the “one-China principle”, under which it demands that countries that maintain formal diplomatic ties with it do not also have them with Taiwan, which it views as part of China.) America recently allowed Ms Tsai to visit New York for one of the longest stays ever granted to a Taiwanese president, and sold Taiwan tanks and anti-aircraft missiles worth $2.2bn. But this week Mr Trump thrilled Taiwan with a step that China will see as an even bigger affront.
On August 18th Mr Trump decided to sell Taiwan 66 new F-16 fighter jets. The sale, worth $8bn, still needs congressional approval. But leading Republicans and Democrats alike have championed it, seeing Taiwan as a bulwark against Beijing’s expansion in the Asia-Pacific.
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The new fleet of F-16s will boost Taiwan’s ageing air force, but hardly tip the military balance against China’s increasingly powerful armed forces. The real power they embody is that of a psychological shock for the one-party state across the strait. The last time America sold fighter jets to Taiwan was in 1992.
Taiwan first asked America for more F-16s in 2006, under the previous president from Ms Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, which typically has especially testy relations with China. His successor, Ma Ying-jeou, of the more China-friendly party, the Kuomintang (KMT), reiterated the request. But China persuaded the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama to refuse. During Mr Obama’s presidency in particular, China portrayed a potential sale of F-16 planes as crossing a red line. It never tires of reminding America that in 1982 it promised to reduce arms sales to Taiwan.
Ms Tsai, who is campaigning for re-election in early 2020, was delighted with the news. Her campaign presents her as a foil to an ever more repressive, assertive China. Her KMT challenger, Han Kuo-yu, whom critics accuse of being too cosy with China, also applauded Mr Trump’s decision and pledged to deepen military ties with America if elected. Arthur Ding, of National Chengchi University, thinks the deal, despite its hefty price tag, will fly swiftly through the sometimes combative legislature.
China was not so happy. A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry said on August 16th that American arms sales “severely violate the one-China principle”. But it is not clear if it plans anything more than a rhetorical response, such as suspending military exchanges with America. The impact on other disputes between the two countries—over trade, for example—is also uncertain.
(ZH) Hong Kong was already one of the world’s most unaffordable cities before the unrest over the extradition bill started 11 weeks ago. But now, it’s both unaffordable and not particularly safe, more residents are looking to maybe find somewhere less expensive, that’s not quite such a political powder keg.
Given that most people in the region would probably like to live somewhere local where they speak the language, the top beneficiary of HK’s recent wave of emigration has been Taiwan.
According to the Taipei Times and Bloomberg, the number of people moving to Taiwan from Hong Kong has risen rapidly – it’s up 28% over the first seven months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier – driven in part by the anti-government protests that have rocked the city-state over the past three months.
Those who have been making the move, typically wealthier entrepreneurs, salespeople and managers, have cited a better quality of life in the democratically run Taiwan, cheaper property, business opportunities and a safer living environment as incentives to make the move.
Meanwhile, protesters have clashed with police in an extremely violent manner. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads a pro-independence party in Taiwan, has verbally supported the Taiwan protests. But many residents are beginning to worry that the clashes might never end.
And who wants to pay all that money in rent if you can’t even catch a flight on time without worrying about mobs of protesters.
Just take a look at this quote:
“I want to move to Taiwan because Hong Kong is in a period of white terror and ruled by the police, which scares me,” said 37-year-old retail salesperson Steven Chen, a Hong Konger who said he was working to move to Taiwan. “I saw no future for the city when it returned to China some 20 years ago, but now it’s dangerous to live in, as the police are not protecting people.”
Not only is there ‘no future,’ but many now worry that it’s ‘dangerous’ to live in Hong Kong.
The US military said on Wednesday that a guided-missile cruiser had sailed through the Taiwan Strait just hours after the Chinese military criticized Washington for “adding complexity to regional security” and warned it to stay clear of the island or else risk war.
Trump’s support for Taiwan, which recently was cleared by Congress to purchase over $2 billion in US weapons, is among a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and a growing geopolitical conflict in the South China Sea, where China has been expanding its military presence while the United States conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.
The warship sent to the 112-mile-wide Taiwan Strait was identified as the Antietam. “The (ship’s) transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” he added, quoted by Reuters.USS Antietam
The defiant move comes shortly after China warned that it is ready for war if necessary, to prevent any attempts to split the island from the mainland, or any push toward Taiwan’s independence, and accusing the United States of undermining global stability and denouncing its arms sales to the self-ruled island.
While the voyage will further escalate tensions with China, it will also be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.
While the United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms. Meanwhile, China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory.
On Wednesday, Chinese Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news briefing on a defense white paper, the first like it in several years to outline the military’s strategic concerns, that China would make its greatest effort for peaceful reunification with Taiwan.
“If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he said, in a clear warning to the US.
Commenting on the white paper’s implications, China’s notorious twitter troll, Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the nationalist Global Times, said “there are few possibilities and necessities for China to possess military power to provoke the US. But if attacked by the US, China must be able to cause unbearable losses to the US.“
There are few possibilities and necessities for China to possess military power to provoke the US. But if attacked by the US, China must be able to cause unbearable losses to the US.
In recent years, China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on exercises – usually around the time US had sent its own ships in the vicinity – and worked to isolate it internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
Under China’s “one country, two systems” model, Hong Kong was given the guarantee that the freedoms of its citizens would be preserved and respected. Meanwhile, for a long time in the west, the consensus was that, as its economy grew, China would start to look more like Hong Kong. Regrettably, in recent years the opposite has happened and Hong Kong looks more like China by the year. Perhaps we were naive to believe that this erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy was not inevitable. Beijing makes no secret of its view that democracy and Chinese civilisation are incompatible. The protesters in the streets of Hong Kong would beg to differ, and I hope they succeed through peaceful means.
For democracy activists in Hong Kong and beyond, there is a shining city on the hill: Taiwan. It is the one clear example of a Chinese liberal democratic project that has thrived in recent years. It should come as no surprise that it has faced intense pressure from Beijing.
In the South China Sea, China is strengthening its military presence. Its violations of Taiwanese air and sea space have escalated to dangerous levels. Beijing’s hostility towards Taipei has intensified since 2016, when Taiwan elected a president who defends Taipei’s sovereignty. It has stepped up its aerial missions violating Taiwanese airspace, sailing warships near or in Taiwanese waters, with the most recent example in June when China’s aircraft carrier passed through the Taiwan Strait. Taipei is also seriously concerned about Chinese interference in Taiwan’s presidential election next January.
To date, Europe has been erratic in its dealings with China. Several states have been eager to jump into bed with Beijing and auction off our democratic values for the promise of a boost in investment. They have turned a blind eye to Beijing’s human rights abuses at home and bellicosity in its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, other states see China’s continued authoritarian drift but shrink in the face of its global bullying.
The European Union regularly argues that its foreign policy is based on values, not just short-term interests. If this is the case, we should stand up for these values and defend the largest Chinese democracy from authoritarian pressure. The United States is leading by example, including the recent decision to sell military equipment worth more than $2bn to Taipei.
In Europe, however, China bullies capitals into accepting its warped viewpoint that Taiwan is just a rebel province. It forces us to deny Taiwan’s access to international forums and feigns outrage if any European politicians meet democratically elected representatives of the Taiwanese people – a country with a population almost equal to that of Australia.
The new EU leadership should change this approach, and make a stand for democratic self-determination. It should start by meeting Taiwan’s leaders, and moving forward with an investment partnership; and it should no longer be silent when China takes an aggressive posture. Until we do, the EU’s claims to be basing foreign policy on values is a statement that rings hollow.
Our defence of democracy abroad matters for our security at home. Europe’s current debates around China relate to potential security threats – from questions about Huawei and its role in building 5G, through to Chinese one-way investment in Europe’s strategic crown jewels. We want China to offer opportunity and be a partner, but its nationalistic shift gives us cause to worry about its real motives, underpinned by a totally different set of values.
This is why Europe’s stand for our values matters. It is not some abstract discussion about what happens halfway around the world, but the maintenance of a rules-based global order which has kept relative peace, spread prosperity and built free societies.
The people of Hong Kong want more democracy. They will have to win it for themselves. But Europe cannot continue turning the other cheek for the sake of stability and Chinese cash, while people seek the rights that we insist on for ourselves. Yes, China is rich and powerful, but it will only rewrite the world’s rulebook if we allow it to – starting by dismantling democracy on its own doorstep.
We should stand up for Taiwan’s self-determination and treat it as a fully-fledged member of the alliance of democracies. In a globally interdependent world, failure to defend our values in east Asia and beyond will eventually lead to the erosion of those same values at home.
When it comes to tail risks that could cause WWIII, simmering tensions around Taiwan and Beijing’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric probably rank as one of the most probable. Since at least the beginning of the year, President Xi has warned that ‘reunification’ between Taiwan and the mainland is inevitable, and hinted that Beijing wouldn’t hesitate to attack any foreign power that tries to stop China. In response, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has insisted that the people of Taiwan would ‘never’ tolerate rule by the Communist Party, and insisted that the island’s military would fight.
In the middle of this, Washington has okayed the sale of $2.2 billion in weapons, including missiles and tanks, to Taiwan. The decision outraged Beijing, which accused Washington of interfering in its relations with its wayward province.
Now – at a time when Peter Navarro said that trade talks are going “great” – Beijing is moving ahead with an unexpected escalation: China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement that Beijing intends to impose sanctions on American companies selling arms to Taiwan.
That list likely includes most of the major American defense contractors, particularly General Dynamics, the maker of the Abrams tank, and Raytheon, maker of the Stinger missile – two of the armaments being purchased by Taiwan.
CHINA SAYS TO SANCTION U.S. FIRMS INVOLVED IN TAIWAN ARMS SALES
U.S. GOVT IN `TOTAL DISREGARD’ OF CHINA, MINSTER WANG YI SAYS
WANG YI: U.S. SHOULDN’T HAVE OFFICIAL RELATIONS WITH TAIWAN
The announce comes as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned during a trip to Hungary on Friday that Washington must end its dealings with Taiwan, saying that continuing would be like “playing with fire.”
He added that no foreign power will be able to prevent China’s reunification with its runaway province. Though the US has vowed to protect Taiwan should the mainland try to invade. Wang added that the US government is in ‘total disregard’ of China.
And just like that, the prospects for moving from trade war to military confrontation with Beijing have climbed considerably.
(Nikkei) TAIPEI — The Hong Kong government’s attempt to push an amendment to its extradition law through the legislature has further alienated its people from China and moved them closer to Taiwan.
It has also boosted Taiwan’s China-skeptic president and her Democratic Progressive Party in the run-up to a general election in January.
A march in Hong Kong on June 16, which organizers claim drew more than 2 million, was not the only demonstration that day: A much smaller protest in Taipei, which the coordinators say attracted 10,000, was the largest-ever public display of support for Hong Kong in Taiwan, which has emerged as the territory’s biggest champion.
The growing solidarity between Hong Kong and Taiwan is likely to be disconcerting for President Xi Jinping, China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other officials have voiced their backing for Hong Kong on social media, with messages of sympathy and solidarity.
The recent solidarity between Taiwan and Hong Kong took root five years ago, when Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement — which derailed a trade agreement with China — in part inspired Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, which failed in its goal of making the territory more democratic.
“Ever since the Umbrella and Sunflower movements of 2014, Beijing has been alert to the potential for cooperation between pro-independence forces in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank. “China is likely alarmed by recent developments and parallels that are being drawn between them.”
Taiwan and Hong Kong’s relationship has been generally economic, with the two separated by geography and history. But that has changed as a result of heavy-handed tactics by China’s Communist government, which has sovereignty over Hong Kong but has promised it a high degree of autonomy, and which claims Taiwan as part of its own territory.
When Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung spoke to reporters on June 17 after his release from prison for an Umbrella-era infraction, he thanked the Taiwanese people for their support, and warned of Beijing’s threat to their free society. “Today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan,” Wong said, repeating a phrase that has become increasingly common in Taiwan. “Thank you, Taiwan,” he said. “We will fight together.”
That same day, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a resolution in support of Hong Kong’s demonstrators, condemning the use of force at a protest on June 12 and urging Taipei to help politically persecuted Hong Kong people.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong people have a clear message for Taiwan: Don’t trust Beijing. At one march some protesters carried signs warning Taiwanese not to vote the China-friendly Kuomintang into power in January, claiming it would spell the end of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Until two weeks ago, there was a good chance the Kuomintang could retake the presidency and control of the legislature, but Hong Kong’s troubles have changed the political conversation in favor of Tsai and the DPP, who say that Taiwan is a separate country from China. Focus has switched from the economy to maintaining sovereignty.
As a result, candidates to become the Kuomintang presidential nominee have scrambled to denounce the “one country, two systems” framework that China uses to rule Hong Kong and that Xi has also proposed for Taiwan. Tech billionaire Terry Gou called the arrangement “a failure,” while the mayor of Kaohsiung, Han Kuo-yu, said that if he were elected, Taiwan would be subjected to it “over my dead body.”
How close Taiwan’s ties to China should be is the subject of heated debate among Taiwanese, but for the vast majority, talk of unification is a non-starter. Wang Ting-yu, chairman of the Legislative Yuan’s foreign affairs and national defense committee, said that what’s happening in Hong Kong has unified political discussion while silencing pro-China sentiment.
“We don’t want to be part of China,” Wang said. “Only two countries can have two systems.”
(SCMP) Tsai Ing-wen’s support for Hongkongers has helped propel her through her party’s primaries and may bode well for her chances in the presidential election
In the long term, the Hong Kong protests, which vocalise anxieties about China shared by Taiwan, may further alienate Taipei and Beijing
Published: 9:00am, 19 Jun, 201910One of the most unintended consequences of the two massive protests in Hong Kong against the government’s extradition bill is the city’s emergence as a bellwether for Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election.
Since Taiwan’s first direct presidential election in 1996, cross-strait relations have dominated debate on the island, while Hong Kong issues have rarely been mentioned.
However, the three massive protests in the past two weeks are all related to Hong Kong’s relations with Beijing. On June 4, 180,000 people attended the annual candlelight vigil in Victoria Park to mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Then, over 1 million people took to the streets on June 9 and nearly 2 million came out again on June 16 to protest against the Hong Kong government’s extradition bill, which if passed would allow the transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong to mainland China.These developments may have alarmed people in Taiwan, who have witnessed years of declining freedoms in Hong Kong since the handover on July 1, 1997. Many Taiwanese fear that Hong Kong today will be their tomorrow if they are forced to accept Beijing’s terms for reunification.
Meanwhile, thousands rallied in Taiwan on Sunday to show solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters. And, on Monday, Taiwan’s legislature passed a joint statement in support of the Hong Kong protesters.Analysts said Tsai’s rebuff of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s statement in January on Taiwan adopting “one country, two systems” and her support for Hongkongers had helped propel her through the primary.
The “one country, two systems” framework was originally designed for Taiwan by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, but first applied to Hong Kong. In demonstrations, some Hong Kong protesters carried placards that read, “‘one country, two systems’ is a total failure.” Multiple surveys have suggested that the vast majority of Taiwanese oppose the “one country, two systems” proposal. The Hong Kong protests have given ammunition to the embattled Tsai.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference in Taipei, on June 13. Tsai said Taiwan will not accept the “one country two systems” model proposed by China while speaking about the current situation of the protest in Hong Kong. Photo: EPA-EFEShare:The protests come amid a triangular diplomatic wrangle between the US, China and Taiwan, with Washington-Taipei relations at a high pointwhile Washington-Beijing ties are at their lowest ebb since the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Taiwan and Hong Kong, the two free societies under Beijing’s shadow, share much in their democratic aspirations, as both coincidentally began their respective democratic reforms in the mid-1980s.
Over time, Taiwan has become one of the most lively and vibrant free democracies in Asia while democratic reform in Hong Kong has largely stalled since the handover due to deep disagreements between Beijing and Hongkongers. The Legislative Council election in 1995, introduced by the last British governor Chris Pattern, was the first, and last, fully elected legislative election in Hong Kong history.Taiwan and Hong Kong’s shared grievances against Beijing could not have been more evident than in their mass protests in 2014. Taiwan’s “sunflower movement” opposed a controversial trade pact with China. Hong Kong’s “umbrella movement” protested against a political reform bill that would effectively allow Beijing to screen candidates standing for “direct election” of the chief executive.
Students protesting against a trade pact with China cheer after leaving the legislature in Taipei, on April 10, 2014. The students ended their unprecedented 24-day occupation of Taiwan’s Parliament after receiving assurances that the pact they claim imperils the island’s autonomy would undergo legislative review. Photo: APShare:Hong Kong and Taiwan are also both ambiguous about their ethnic links with the mainland, as multiple surveys have suggested an increase in the number of people who identify themselves as “Hongkongers” or “Taiwanese” respectively rather than “Chinese”.
In the short term, the Hong Kong protests may have helped boost Tsai and the DPP’s prospects at the expense of the Beijing-friendly KMT in the upcoming elections. In the longer term, the protests may help further alienate Taiwan and the mainland, and Taiwanese and mainland Chinese people.
Cary Huang is a veteran China affairs columnist, having written on this topic since the early 1990s
Taipei, Taiwan (CNN)Beaming in the bright sunshine, Amber Wang took the hand of her new wife, Kristin Huang, on the steps of the Xinyi District office in Taipei, Friday, making history as one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Asia.As of 10am, 166 same-sex couples had already registered their marriages across Taiwan, according to the island’s Interior Ministry.But just kilometers away, in the city’s outer suburbs, emboldened opponents of marriage equality announced to the press that they would create a new political party to fight for a ban on same-sex marriage at the 2020 election.Taiwan is an island bitterly divided over a moment which should have made it a shining light for LGBTQ rights in an increasingly repressive region.
Amber Wang and Kristin Huang at a party held in Taipei to celebrate the first same-sex weddings in Asia on Friday.Across the island of 24 million people, the first gay and lesbian couples in Asia legally tied the knot, to tears and applause from their friends and family.It followed two years of fierce debate after the island’s Constitutional Court ruled that the existing marriage law was unconstitutional, violating LGBTQ citizens’ human rights. The judges gave the island’s parliament two years to amend and enact new laws.After months of stalling and acrimony, the laws finally passed on May 18, just one week before the deadline.Still, there’s no indication that the majority of Taiwan’s population is happy to see Wang and Huang and others like them married. A referendum during the 2018 Taiwan local elections asking voters if they supported same-sex marriage failed by a large margin.In total, 69% of voters said they wanted the marriage code restricted to between a man and a woman.”Friday will be the darkest day in Taiwan’s judiciary history,” same-sex marriage opponent Stability of Power Alliance chiarman Sun Chi-Cheng said the day before the historic event.
Joy in Taiwan
It is the day for which LGBT rights activist Chi Chia-Wei has been waiting for more than four decades.One of the first people in Taiwan to publicly come out as gay, Chi has been campaigning for marriage equality since the 1980s, and was one of the plaintiffs who brought the case in the Constitutional Court which led to its legalization.”I have been preparing for this day to come, although it took a long while to happen … But I knew it would eventually come,” he said.
Marc and Shane register their marital status and receive new identification cards on May 24 in Taipei, Taiwan.Chi was present at the wedding of Wang and Huang on Friday, dressed in a bright red suit with plush rainbow bears attached.He signed the first Xinyi same-sex couples’ marriage registration as a witness, with the same pen Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen used to sign the marriage equality bill just one week ago.Tsai gifted it to Chi with a handwritten note.”May love unite everyone on this land,” the president wrote.Friday was technically Wang’s third “wedding” to her wife, Huang. They were both married, unofficially, in January 2018, less than a year after the court decision and again in May shortly after the bill passed.But they only officially became wife and wife on Friday.
LGBT rights activist Chi Chia-Wei in Taiwan on Thursday, the day before same-sex marriage becomes legal on the island”I’m so proud that Taiwan is on the right side of the history and the first in Asia to have done so … Taiwan has set an example in making progress in safeguarding human rights,” Huang said.The two, who have been dating for about three years, co-host a YouTube channel called BBDiary. It’s named after their nicknames for each other — BB, a synonym for baby. The video of their first “wedding” in 2018 has since been watched more than 420,000 times on their channel.For China’s LGBTQ people, Taiwan’s rainbow victory is a moment of joy and painHuang said she first realized the need for equal rights for same-sex relationships when Wang had a medical emergency and she found herself treated by hospital staff not as a loved one, but as a “roommate.”They were standing in the rain last week with thousands of others when the final bills legalizing marriage equality passed, a moment which they both said was “unbelievable.”Huang understands opponents of same-sex marriage. Her own father used to object to her being in a same-sex relationship.”(After they) got to know my partner better, they came to the realization that gay people aren’t what they thought they were,” she said.But not everyone has changed their minds.
Kristin Huang and Amber Wang
At Xizhi district in suburban Taipei, Sun announced the formation of the Stability of Power party which aims to end marriage equality at the very moment same-sex couples were tying the knot across the island.Speaking at the Taiwan legislature Thursday, he said thegovernment’s decision to pass same-sex marriage was a “betrayal” of voters, who made their opinion clear in last year’s referendum.”Through President Tsai’s manipulation, the people of Taiwan are not only betrayed, but also toyed with while their rights are being abused. In her eyes, people’s opinion are nothing but trash,” he said.It’s clear the move to endorse same-sex marriage is divisive, to say the least. Three questions on same-sex marriage were asked in the 2018 Taiwan referendum. In all cases voters rejected same-sex marriage but weren’t opposed to Taiwan’s LGBTQ couples having rights other than marriage.
Sun Chi-Cheng, chairman of the Stability of Power Alliance, announced a new political party in Taiwan Friday opposing same-sex marriageBut given the Constitutional Court’s decision, legislators couldn’t leave the law as it was, which led to extensive negotiations and concessions.The final version doesn’t mention “same-sex marriage” specifically, instead saying couples of the same gender are allowed “marriage registration.” It doesn’t allow LGBTQ couples full adoption rights either.But Sun said that isn’t enough and he wants the marriages outlawed. His group will put up candidates at the 2020 election to run on the issue. “Let’s elect a new president and new legislators next year. And we will overturn the bills,” he said.One of Sun’s volunteers, Becky Huang, said gay people in Taiwan don’t actually want to get married, blaming legislators for stoking the issue for personal gain. “I have a gay nephew. He doesn’t want to get married,” she said.
‘Faith, hope and love’
If Taiwan does backtrack on same-sex rights, it would be a decision in keeping with an increasingly conservative region.In recent years, LGBTQ rights across Asia have seen repeated backtracks and growing obstacles as local governments become more reluctant to embrace their gaypopulations.Activists had hoped the Taiwan decision would create a surge of support for same-sex marriage across Asia, but so far, only China has reacted to the announcement, apparently attempting to take credit for the advance in a tweet with a gif saying “love is love.”
Just days after Taiwan’s legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage for the first time in Asia, couples register their marital status and receive new identification cards, Friday.Homosexuality is not illegal on the mainland, but same-sex marriage is not permitted and activists there don’t see the situation changing any time soon.Taiwan’s gay men and women may now be able to marry but say the battle for their rights isn’t over. “We all know that, even though the bills have been passed, this won’t be the end of the fight,” newly-wed Huang said.Chi said he was optimistic about the future of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, despite Sun’s attempts to rally opposition to the new laws. He believes that people will grow used to the change once they see that same-sex couples are just like everyone else.To his fellow same-sex marriage advocates across Asia, Chi has a simple message: “Faith, hope and love. Keep your faith, hold onto your hope and continue to love.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping ratcheted up the pressure on Taiwan’s pro-self-rule government on Wednesday, asserting China’s right to use military force against ‘foreign powers’ that intervened on the issue of independence for the country
“We hope that the international community takes it seriously and can voice support and help us,” Tsai told reporters in Taipei, referring to threats by China to use force to bring Taiwan under its control.
If the international community did not support a democratic country that was under threat, “we might have to ask which country might be next?” Tsai added.
Taiwan is China’s most sensitive issue and is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory. Xi has stepped up pressure on the democratic island since Tsai from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party became president in 2016.
President Xi said on Wednesday that China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification” with the island.
In response, Tsai has said the island would not accept a “one country, two systems” political arrangement with China, while stressing all cross-strait negotiations needed to be carried out on a government-to-government basis.
Tsai on Saturday also urged China to have a “correct understanding” of what Taiwanese think and said actions such as political bullying were unhelpful in cross-strait relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said this week that Taiwan “must and will be” part of China again. This talk seems to have already caused consternation in the formerly Chinese-owned country as it looks to assert its independence and show that it can hold.|
Chinese President Xi Jinping said this week that Taiwan “must and will be” part of China again. This talk seems to have already caused consternation in the formerly Chinese-owned country as it looks to assert its independence and show that it can hold its own on the world stage.
Last week, Taiwan said that it wants to be a part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)and watched from the sidelines in recent trade talks at the APEC Summit held in Papua New Guinea at the end of 2018.
Now, the country is issuing statements about being more independent, which has led China to say that Taiwan has to reunite with the mainland at some point, preferably sooner rather than later. However, it appears that this rhetoric has merely instigated Taiwan to push forward with its own trade plans.
Due to its positioning in the Asia Pacific region, and particularly in the South China Sea, Taiwan has seen shows of aggression on all sides. The US is even trying to tempt Taiwan to work with it on trade, which could well be one of the reasons why China is taking a firmer stance.
There are clear signs that China is looking to increase the influence that it exerts in the region at present, but in the face of its strong words, Taiwan seemingly has no intention of taking any threats lying down.
Taiwan is now looking to reduce its dependency on China. It has a fairly heavy reliance on the nation due to its proximity and past ties. Jinping said this week that he did not oppose using military force to bring Taiwan back under China’s control.
It would seem that Taiwan’s best protection is to refuse to stay isolated on the matter and work on bilateral trade with other countries to show its outward international value.
The region’s current government came into power on the back of a wave of concerns over sharp reliance on China. Currently, 40% of Taiwan’s exports go to China, accounting for half of Taiwan’s GDP. The election manifesto called to “bid farewell to our past over-reliance on a single market.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen introduced the New Southbound Policy, a document that sets out intentions to get new investment from other South Asian nations. India is at the top of the list.
The Taiwan External Trade Development Council will be working to achieve this, and Chairperson James Huang has called India “the jewel in our external economic strategy.” India’s mass labor market, low wages and skill in electronics are well suited to the Taiwanese tech sector.
With India’s aim to grow its GDP by 8%-10% and its population set to overtake China’s, there could well be a developing battle between the two nations to establish themselves as dominant powers in the burgeoning tech market. China is beginning to feel the effects of a trade war between itself and the US.
Taiwan is likely to struggle with growth if it cannot establish bases in other countries due to its shortages in land and energy capacity. Forming agreements with nations such as India could, therefore, help Taiwan to flourish, reduce its reliance on China, and gain support from elsewhere.