::: TSR Weekly Report
2017-08-21 | NO.21(33) epaper |
Note to Readers
TSR is pleased to announce newly published books about Taiwan and East Asia on its website and in its weekly newsletter. If you're a scholar or your book is coming out from an academic press, please send the title of your book and a link to the publisher's web site to TSR's Senior Editor, James Lee (JL18@princeton.edu).
Cross-Strait Relations
Lee Ching-Yu to Meet with UN Commission (2017-08-17)
(Taipei Times, By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jake Chung) Lee Ching-yu, wife of Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che, who is detained in China, is planning to attend the 113th session of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in September, Taiwan Association for Human Rights Secretary-General Chiu Ee-ling said on Tuesday.

A Latin American Battle: China vs. Taiwan (2017-08-19)
(The Diplomat, By Binay Prasad) While the United States retreats from the Latin America and Caribbean regions, theoretically leaving a wide space from which China can exude its own influence, the true conflict in Latin American foreign relations is not one between the US and China. Rather, Taiwan and China have been battling over diplomatic recognition in the region, as both sides firmly commit to their definitions of the One China Principle and many of Taiwan's only 20 diplomatic partners are found in this region. Checkbook diplomacy plays a big part in the developing countries' diplomatic positions, especially as China offers more aid and poaches Taiwan's partners, as it did with Panama earlier this year.

New Party Vows to Sign Peace Treaty (2017-08-21)
(Taipei Times, By Shelley Shan) New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming yesterday said the party will continue to advocate peaceful unification with China, adding that signing a peace treaty with China would be one of its campaign promises for the 2020 presidential and legislative elections. The party announced that it has officially split with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and would position itself as a uniting force for all political groups advocating peaceful unification with China and opposing Taiwanese independence.
Taiwan's Domestic Politics and Foreign Relations
Taipei Forum Report on U.S. Politics and Asia-Pacific Policy under President Trump (2017-07-28)
(Taipei Forum) To better understand U.S. politics and Asia-Pacific policy under President Trump, a Taipei Forum Foundation delegation visited New York and Washington D.C. in early June 2017. The following reportcontains information and perspectives from the conversations between the group and U.S. officials and experts and is divided into six parts: current U.S. domestic politics, foreign policy making in the Trump administration, U.S.-China relations, U.S.-Taiwan relations, Taiwan’s major challenges, and the North Korea nuclear issue. A Chinese version of the report is available here.

Tsai’s Approval Rating Sinks to New Low
(Taipei Times, By Chen Wei-han) President Tsai Ing-wen’s approval rating has dropped to below 30 percent, the lowest of her presidency, while Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has an approval rating of about 70 percent nationwide, one of the highest for any politician in the nation’s history, according to a monthly poll by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation released yesterday.

Locating Taiwan on Australia's Strategic Radar (2017-08-15)
(The Diplomat, By Sinclaire Prowse) Australia and Taiwan, while historically have been great partners, must reexamine their bilateral relationship in the face of Australia's position as a balancing act between China and the United States, especially given Canberra's strict adherence to the "one China" policy. Australia has tended to base its Taiwan policy on the current relationship between China and the United States. However, as the relationship between Taiwan and China grows more tense, Canberra cannot sit idly by and base its decisions entirely on the China-US relationship and must begin to make its own decisions.

Travel Requirements for Japanese Visitors Relaxed (2017-08-16)
(CNA) Japanese will have an easier time visiting Taiwan after the government yesterday lifted the requirement that their passports be valid for at least three months from the time of entry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Japan has allowed Taiwanese to visit Japan with only a valid passport, Chung said, but Taiwan had required Japanese visitors to present a passport with at least three months of validity to enter without a visa.

What’s in a Name? For Taiwan, Preparing for the Spotlight, a Lot (2017-08-16)
(New York Times, By Chris Horton) Taiwan’s athletes have long had to compete abroad as “Chinese Taipei.” But now, as it prepares to host a major sports event, the whole island is getting the label.

A Presidential Office Guard Has Been Attacked By a Man with a Samurai Sword and a PRC Flag (2017-08-18)
(dpa) A military police officer on guard outside the Presidential Office was wounded Friday by a sword-wielding man with a PRC flag who allegedly tried to break into the building, according to police and state-run media reports. The guard sustained cuts to his neck and was rushed to the National Taiwan University hospital for treatment, the Central News Agency said.

Protests, Rumours of Terrorist Attack, Mar Opening of University Games in Taipei (2017-08-19)
(South China Morning Post, By Lawrence Chung) Taiwan went on high alert as the 2017 Universiade kicked off in Taipei on Saturday amid public protests and rumours of a possible attack by Islamic State (IS) terrorists. The global event, which was opened by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, was dogged by ideological debates over whether Taiwan – as a host entity – should fly its official Republic of China flag throughout the competitions.

KMT Pulls Pro-Unification Plank From Party Platform (2017-08-21)
(South China Morning Post, By Lawrence Chung) Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang has pulled a pro-unification plank from the party’s platform, a move analysts say is certain to rile Beijing. In a vote reportedly orchestrated by new KMT leader Wu Den-yih on Sunday, the party’s national congress approved removal of calls for a peace treaty with the mainland before eventual reunification, an idea introduced by Wu’s predecessor Hung Hsiu-chu.

Beijing Warns US Ahead of Taiwan Defence Minister’s Visit (2017-08-23)
(Reuters) Beijing warned the United States on Tuesday against any military contacts with Taiwan ahead of brief visits by the self-ruled island’s defence minister to the United States on his way to and from Central American allies. The US is Taiwan’s main source of weapons and Taipei has been pressing for sales of more advanced equipment to deal with the rapidly modernising military of mainland China, which claims the island as its own.
PLA, Military Balance and Arms Sales
Counterintelligence Remains Weakness in Taiwan’s Defense (2017-08-17)
(The Jamestown Foundation, By Peter Mattis) Despite Beijing’s relentless and sometimes fruitful efforts to penetrate the most sensitive parts of Taiwan’s national security institutions and society, Taiwan’s leaders have not been able to push forward a stronger legal foundation for counterintelligence. This is partially in part due to the distrust of the national security apparatus by Taiwanese politicians, as well as the misfounded belief that reducing economic reliance on China and attempting to balance Southeast Asia against China with the "Southbound Policy" will reduce the Chinese threat.

National Defense Spending to Increase (2017-08-20)
(Taipei Times, By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung) The national defense budget increase proposed by the Executive Yuan for fiscal 2018 is to be largely spent on personnel, while funding for equipment purchases is to be decreased by US$164.8 million, a Ministry of National Defense senior official said. Democratic Progressive Party legislators said that the defense budget increase showed that President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration was concerned with national defense, despite the budget allocation not reaching 3 percent of GDP.
U.S.-China Relations
America: China Doesn't Care about Your Rules-Based Order (2017-08-17)
(The National Interest, By Koh Swee Lean Collin) With China's newfound economic and political strength comes the confidence to assert it's will in the Asia-Pacific and address perceived grievances. This also gives China the confidence to pick-and-choose international law when it benefits its own territorial claims as it seeks to be regional hegemon.

Amid North Korea Crisis, China and US Aim to Deepen Military Cooperation (2017-08-16)
(The Diplomat, by Charlotte Gao) U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week in a secret meeting that was only revealed at the last moment. The two agreed to cooperate on building military ties and improving communication between the two great powers. Both countries agreed in the stabilization benefits between the two militaries, including on important global issues such as North Korea.

China 'Strongly Dissatisfied' with US Trade Investigation (2017-08-22)
(The Diplomat, By Charlotte Gao) The United States recently began an investigation into China's intellectual property practices. China has responded and says that they will retaliate, expressing "strong dissatisfaction" and the US side ignores WTO rules. The Chinese continue to say that they will defend all aspects of China's interests, no matter the cost.

US Imposes New Sanctions on Chinese and Russian Companies to Cut Off North Korea Support (2017-08-22)
(South China Morning Post, By Robert Delaney and Zhenhua Lu) The US announced a set of secondary sanctions against 16 Chinese and Russian entities as part of its efforts to cut off trade with North Korea and starve the country’s military of the cash it needs to develop nuclear weapons. The move opened a new rift with China, which blasted the US for its “long-arm jurisdiction” and demanded that Washington “immediately correct its mistake”. The US government’s action also expanded the scope of sanctions to include oil, a product that had been left out of previous bans on humanitarian grounds.
Territorial Disputes, the Korean Peninsula, and Other Regional Issues
Territorial Disputes

No Brexit from the South China Sea (2017-08-16)
(East Asia Forum, By Donald R. Rothwell) The recent statements by senior UK ministers regarding the future deployment of British warships in the South China Sea provoked an inevitable response from China and speculation as to when these actions may actually take place. But care needs to be exercised in reading too much into what has been said. Unlike the United States, the UK does not have a distinct freedom of navigation program.

US, Japan Conduct Military Exercise Near Senkakus (2017-08-17)
(The Diplomat, By Franz-Stefan Gady) The US Air Force and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force conducted a joint air drill near the disputed Senkaku Islands earlier this week. The exercise was done to show the commitment the US and Japan have to regional security and peace. The islands in question, located in the East China Sea, are disputed between Japan and China.

Can China Be Taken Seriously on its ‘Word’ to Negotiate Disputed Territory? (2017-08-18)
(The Diplomat, By Namrata Goswami) China's negotiations with Bhutan are notable due to their peaceful nature despite lack of official diplomatic relations between the two countries. However, it reflects a pattern in Chinese diplomacy when dealing with territorial disputes, where China and the second party agree to peaceful and calm negotiations prior to China's aggressive declaration of its claims to the global community. China intentionally breaks its agreements with other countries in negotiating tactics, presumably to constrain behavior while putting in every effort necessary to steer the conversation into Chinese domination.

Leveraging US Military Power in South China Sea (2017-08-22)
(The Diplomat, By Steven Stashwick) Many of the South China Sea disputes have been somehow related to the power struggle between the United States and China on a global scale. In order to solve any disputes, the US must put into place a new strategy of new military balancing strategies in an effort to avoid greater militarization of the region. Future developments depend on the two sides' cooperation and de-escalation. This will allow status quo maintenance to emerge as the norm for the region, which will at least prevent a violent outburst.

Naval Collision Adds to Fears About U.S. Decline in Asia (2017-08-22)
(New York Times, By Hannah Beech) Images of a damaged U.S. Navy destroyer come as America’s allies have grown concerned that the Trump administration’s actions provide an opening for China.

A Window of Opportunity in the South China Sea (2017-08-22)
(East Asia Forum, By Sourabh Gupta) In parallel, ASEAN and China should devise a multilayered code of conduct that covers claimant and non-claimant states alike, is comprehensive in scope in terms of activities covered, subjects its signatories to binding regional dispute settlement, and encourages extra-regional partners to adhere and accede to its purposes.

The Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s Leader Bluntly Warns U.S. Against Striking North (2017-08-15)
(New York Times, By Choe Sang-Hun) President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday that unilateral military action over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program would be intolerable.

Lu Urges Peace on Korean Peninsula
(Taipei Times, By Chen Wei-han) Former vice president Annette Lu yesterday sent an open letter to US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, urging them to exercise restraint amid escalating military tension. The letter, sent on the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II, urges the two leaders to “exhaust all possible diplomatic means to find peaceful solutions” to the confrontation that has brought East Asia to the brink of nuclear war, Lu said.

Bannon and Dunford Remarks Muddle U.S. Strategy for North Korea (2017-08-16)
(New York Times, By Jane Perlez and Choe Sang-Hun) The White House adviser’s blunt comments appeared to undercut the United States’ top military official, who sought to persuade China to get tough on Pyongyang.

China’s Crackdown on North Korea Over U.N. Sanctions Starts to Pinch (2017-08-16)
(New York Times, By Jane Perlez) A ban on North Korean seafood exports began to be felt this week, curtailing an easy source of cash for the North Korean government but angering Chinese wholesalers.

The Russia Factor in China's North Korea Challenge (2017-08-18)
(The Diplomat, By Joel Wuthnow) Following the unanimous UNSC decision to implement new North Korea sanctions, the job of enforcing them falls upon China, seeing as China is North Korea's primary trading partner. However, a crucial factor in this relationship is how Russia may take advantage of a weakened relationship between China and North Korea. An increase in Russian trade to North Korea will lead to an increase in Russia's influence over the situation, especially given China's weakening influences. This idea will greatly influence China's decision on how strictly to enforce the newly-approved sanctions.

Tensions Over N Korea Could Affect Taiwan: Forum (2017-08-19)
(CNA) Worsening relations between China and the US in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear expansion could have implications for Taiwan, experts said yesterday in a forum in Taipei on the development of Taiwan-US relations under changing dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region. The escalating tension between the US and China might leave Washington with no option but to increase its support for Taiwan through arms sales and trade, according to some experts.

South Korea and U.S. Begin Drills as North Warns of Rising Tensions (2017-08-21)
(New York Times, By Choe Sang-Hun and Austin Ramzy) North Korea, calling the joint exercises a rehearsal for real war, said the drills would escalate tensions on the peninsula.

Amid the US-ROK Drills, China Warns Not to 'Add Fuel to the Fire' (2017-08-22)
(The Diplomat, By Charlotte Gao) The United States and South Korea are conducting joint military exercises to prepare for any potential North Korean military issues, but the North Koreans see these drills as a provocative action. The Chinese government has responded by advising not to make a bad situation worse and to be mindful of the necessary de-escalation. Beijing has proposed in the past an idea where the US and South Korea would halt military exercises if North Korea stopped its nuclear program.

Can China Curb North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions? (2017-08-22)
(The Diplomat, By Son Daekwon) While Donald Trump often criticizes China for not taking more action upon North Korea and attempting to solve the crisis in the region, China's ability to influence the issues may be more limited than Trump imagines. A shared border and common ideologies are not enough to create a sense of power or control over another state, as evidenced by a failure of the Soviet Union to curb China during the Cold War. North Korea has already stated that their nuclear program takes priority over a friendship with China.

Chinese Authorities Seize Equipment from South Korean Retail Giant Lotte As Tensions Over Missile Defence Shield Continue (2017-08-22)
(South China Morning Post, By Laura Zhou) Chinese authorities have confiscated dozens of items of machinery from two supermarkets owned by South Korea’s retail giant Lotte Group – the latest move that threatens business links between the two nations, which are currently locked in a diplomatic stand-off. Inspectors from the Beijing Development and Reform Commission have seized 23 pump motors and four power transformers from two Lotte Mart stores in the capital city in the wake of a special crackdown on energy consumption, Beijing Evening News reported.

Trump Urged to Abandon China Strategy and Start Formal Talks with North Korea (2017-08-24)
(South China Morning Post, By Shi Jiangtao) Top US experts on North Korea have urged President Donald Trump to start formal talks with Pyongyang, saying the strategy of heaping pressure on China to solve the situation won’t work. Joseph DeTrani, former special envoy for the six-party talks with North Korea, said it was time to consider formal negotiations with Pyongyang to “get North Korea to halt all nuclear tests and missile launches and return to unconditional nuclear discussions and negotiations”.

Other Regional Issues

Japan Still Seeks U.S. Protection but Quietly Stakes Its Own Path
(New York Times, By Motoko Rich) Japan, aware of neighboring threats like North Korea’s weapons advances, is mostly in lock step with the U.S. But it is starting to consider a more independent role in Asia.

10 Missing After U.S. Navy Ship and Oil Tanker Collide Off Singapore (2017-08-20)
(New York Times, By Hannah Beech and Matthew Haag) The John S. McCain was traveling to a port in Singapore when it collided with a merchant vessel east of the Strait of Malacca, the Navy said.
China's Domestic Politics and Foreign Relations
Domestic Politics in Mainland China

Cambridge University Press Removes Academic Articles on Chinese Site (2017-08-18)
(New York Times, By Ian Johnson) The Chinese authorities had ordered the publishing house to censor more than 300 articles related to sensitive issues or its site risked being shut down.

Ex-leaders’ Influence ‘Wanes’ at Secretive Chinese Communist Party Summer Getaway (2017-08-18)
(South China Morning Post, By Choi Chi-yuk and Viola Zhou) The influence of Chinese Communist Party elders appeared to be on the wane at the key annual summer conclave this year, sources said, underscoring President Xi Jinping’s dominance as he makes final preparations for his second term in office.

After Criticism, Publisher Reverses Decision to Bow to China’s Censors (2017-08-21)
(New York Times, By Chris Buckley) Cambridge University Press said it will reinstate immediately all 315 papers it had cut from the version of its journal China Quarterly that can be read on its website in China.

China, Like U.S., Struggles to Revive Industrial Heartland (2017-08-22)
(New York Times, By Michael Schuman) Shenyang boomed during the country’s go-go years. But when the investment binge fizzled, the city and its factories sputtered.

Beijing and Hong Kong

Hong Kong Police Say Activist Faked Account of Kidnapping and Torture (2017-08-15)
(New York Times, By Austin Ramzy) The police arrested the activist, Howard Lam, who said mainland Chinese officers stapled his legs during an abduction, on suspicion of misleading investigators.

Spirits Still Strong in the New Hong Kong (2017-08-23)
(East Asia Forum, By Kerry Brown) The dwindling cohesion is exacerbated by high levels of local inequality and the brute fact that life is becoming more challenging for most who live in the city. Accommodation is hugely expensive, costs of living are perpetually rising and competition from other centres in the region is warming up. Despite these two big issues, the most remarkable thing about the 20th anniversary of the handover is how Hong Kong has managed to maintain its distinctive atmosphere.

China's Foreign Relations

Chinese Double Standards in the Maritime Domain
(The Diplomat, By Tuan N. Pham) China has launched intelligence gathering ships into both American and Australian Exclusive Economic Zones, a practice which China routinely condemns its international counterparts of illegally engaging in. However, as China is slowly starting to engage in the same practice, it gets rid of any hope of China's "seeing the light" and instead highlights its hypocrisy by its justification of engaging in the same actions. Beijing should not play by its own set of rules and should maintain behaviors set by international law, especially if it regularly points to those laws to criticize other countries' actions.

Pushing Boundaries – Chinese Diplomatic and Military Behavior Intensifies in the Run-up to the 19th Party Congress (2017-08-17)
(Jamestown Foundation, By Peter Wood) More than ever, it is important to understand the factors that go into determining China’s willingness to use force, expend political capital, and confidence when challenging its neighbors. A review of China’s recent diplomatic and military actions—and their impact on U.S.-China ties—can provide some useful context as both sides attempt to cooperate on North Korea and other issues.

China Steps Up Warnings Over Debt-Fueled Overseas Acquisitions (2017-08-18)
(New York Times, By Sui-Lee Wee) The announcement by China’s cabinet is the strongest signal yet that Beijing wants to rein in runaway debt that could pose a threat to its economy.

China Must Get Along with Regional Powers to Make its New Silk Road Plan Work (2017-08-19)
(South China Morning Post, By Rafaello Pantucci) Relations between states at a strategic, economic and even emotional level will all intertwine to create a complicated web that will require sophisticated diplomacy to navigate. For China this is a particularly important lesson to learn, given its keynote “Belt and Road Initiative” that requires an acquiescent and peaceful world to deliver on its promise of building a web of trade and economic corridors emanating from China and tying the Middle Kingdom to the world. China’s current stand-off with India highlights exactly how geopolitics can disrupt Xi Jinping’s foreign policy legacy initiative.

Contact: James Lee, Senior Editor 

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New Publication Understanding China’s New Diplomacy: Silk Roads and Bullet Trains by Gerald Chan (Edward Elgar Publishing)
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New Publication "Understanding President Trump's Taiwan Policy" by John F. Copper (American Journal of Chinese Studies)
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New Publication Taiwan and China: Fitful Embrace by Lowell Dittmer (ed.) (University of California Press) 
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