China Policy Institute: Analysis



Official Blames ‘Rude’ Taiwanese for Drop in Chinese Tourism

Written by J.Michael Cole.

As tour operators prepare to protest next Monday to call on the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration to help the sagging tourism industry, a spokesman for the Travel Agent Association of the R.O.C. Taiwan attributes a drop in Chinese tourists to online rudeness by the Taiwanese.

Ringo Lee (李奇嶽), spokesman for the Association, said on Wednesday that dwindling numbers in Chinese arrivals to Taiwan were not the result of a decision by Chinese authorities to punish the Tsai administration for refusing to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus,” but rather “smearing language” used by Taiwanese netizens to refer to Chinese people. Continue reading “Official Blames ‘Rude’ Taiwanese for Drop in Chinese Tourism”

Does Deportation of Fraudsters to Taiwan Show Jakarta Won’t ‘Kowtow’ to Beijing?

Written by Edward White.

Police in Indonesia yesterday sent 11 Taiwanese, who were arrested along with alleged 20 Chinese telephone scammers, back to Taiwan.

The suspects, arrested on Aug. 4 in Jakarta, were taken to Taichung yesterday for questioning, state news agency CNA reports. Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau said the ring was set up by a Taiwanese national. The group’s scam reportedly involved posing as police officers, prosecutors and customer service agents. Continue reading “Does Deportation of Fraudsters to Taiwan Show Jakarta Won’t ‘Kowtow’ to Beijing?”

Taiwan and Free Trade Agreements – Missing the Wood for the Trees?

Written by Michael Reilly.

Apart from city-state entrepôts such as Hong Kong and Singapore, Taiwan is probably the most trade-dependent nation in the world. The WTO calculates its current trade/gdp ratio as 130.5, higher than Korea’s at 104.2, much more so the EU’s of 33.9. So it is no surprise that successive governments have placed a high priority on negotiating or acceding to Free Trade Agreements. The flagship policy achievement of the previous KMT administration was the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) it signed with China in 2010, which was followed by bilateral free trade agreements with Singapore and New Zealand.

Continue reading “Taiwan and Free Trade Agreements – Missing the Wood for the Trees?”

Taiwan’s trouble talking to the world

Written by Gary Rawnsley.

On 25 August 2016, China’s Xinhua News Agency posted a short film on Twitter about the construction of a pipeline between Fujian province and Jinmen. Once finished, the pipeline will divert water from the mainland to help this ‘Islet of Taiwan’ overcome shortages. In just forty-four seconds, a powerful narrative was established: Taiwan has problems; and Jinmen must depend on the PRC, not Taiwan’s elected government, to solve those problems.

Continue reading “Taiwan’s trouble talking to the world”

Is China Really That Irritable?

Written by J. Michael Cole.

We, or at least international media, seem to have traveled back in time. The current president isn’t Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) but Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The 16 years that have elapsed since never existed. We are back to an era when everything that Taipei does is bound to “anger” Beijing.

In the past few weeks, the Taiwanese president has “infuriated” Beijing — “from the get go” — by failing to embrace the so-called 1992 consensus and the unsavory “one China” dish that Beijing has been forcing on the Taiwanese people for years. The Taiwanese have “angered” Beijing by electing her and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The Chinese public has been “angered” by Taiwan’s insistence on maintaining its way of life and, as a result, refusal to be absorbed by their giant (and undemocratic) neighbor. One point three billion Chinese are “angered” by Taiwan’s lack of gratitude for all the supposed concessions made by Beijing in recent years. Taiwanese athletes and teenage pop stars have “angered” China for displaying the Republic of China flag. Beijing has been “angry” with Taiwan for the latter’s ability to deal with its nationals who engage in telecom fraud.

Continue reading “Is China Really That Irritable?”

There is no Huadu

Written by Ben Goren and Michael Turton.

In his latest piece for this Blog, Thinking Taiwan Editor-in-chief J. Michael Cole argues that Beijing faces not one but two forces for independence in Taiwan: Taidu (臺獨), who support de jure independence for Taiwan, and ‘Huadu’ (華獨), supporters of maintaining a ‘status-quo’ of de facto Taiwanese independence, under the rubric of the Republic of China, for as long as China threatens to annex Taiwan by force. Cole claims that both Taidu (Taiwan independence nationalists) and Huadu (ROC independence nationalists) now comprise the vast majority of people in Taiwan and thus, he argues, Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should attempt to secure the overlapping interests of both groups if she wants to achieve national unity and present a united front against Beijing’s pressure.

Although the piece is creative, it posits a false dichotomy based on a misunderstanding of the etymology of the term ‘Huadu’.  Although the term has become more popular in recent years, it originated as a dismissive phrase coined by Taidu supporters to refer to other Taiwanese who they see as weak-willed appeasers of the ongoing ROC colonial occupation of Taiwan. Outside of this tiny subset of active citizens who are politically engaged on the issue of Taiwan’s independence, the term Huadu remains largely unknown.

Cole argues that Huadu supporters tend to associate with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP). This is incorrect. Even if the term was repurposed to describe these people, Huadu would still be a very loose way to describe individuals who feel that the current status quo as the ROC is an acceptable short-run compromise. Note that Taidu calls for independence are simultaneously calls for abolition of the ROC.

Huadu and Taidu are two flavors of the same thing: independence from China. The difference lies in the substance of each phenomenon. Taidu is an identifiable political cleavage whereas Huadu is a label conferred by others. The only evidence of Huadu’s existence surfaces intermittently in polls that ask whether Taiwanese want independence, the status-quo, or annexation. Those polls provide too little information on the identity of respondents to conclude that those who favour the status-quo have a unique and consciously shared political identity.

Cole talks of the “the values and liberal-democratic practices that are now intrinsic to the form of nationalism that has developed in Taiwan over the decades” without defining the content or context of that nationalism. In fact that context is Taiwanese nationalism, and liberal democratic practices are a core component of its identity. They are not core components of KMT identities. The KMT under President Ma Ying-jeou put great effort into reviving the ethnic component of Chinese nationalist identity in Taiwan, since it underlies the KMT’s Han Chinese nationalism. Taiwan and China are therefore not so neatly divided into civic verse ethnic variants of nationalism as they can both be found in each nation. Neither the KMT nor its satellite parties are ‘Huadu’ because Huadu would be a weak form of independence, which they utterly reject. Huadu could also be a way of being Taiwanese, and the core of the KMT sees itself as Chinese.

Cole’s description of how former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) “probably catered too much to the Taidu crowd, while President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has centred his efforts on the huadu segment within Taiwanese society and alienated Taidu supporters” is problematic. Ma’s ideological rigidity was typified by his curriculum “reforms” (which Cole extensively and brilliantly reported on). His obsession with a program of ‘re-sinifying’ Taiwan  was one of the factors that swung public opinion sharply against him. Moreover, there is no “huadu segment within Taiwanese society”, that Ma could talk to, because Huadu is not a formal idea or ideological program which people are out there supporting, like “unification” or “independence”. Ma’s message followed traditional KMT themes: the future is China, if the DPP wins there will be war, and similar. Indeed, it was Ma’s (and the KMT’s) inability to appeal to middle of the road voters, who might be the presumed Huadu crowd, that led to the KMT’s blowout losses in 2014 and 2016.

In the end, it is more accurate to think of Huadu not as some kind of meaningful or identifiable political cleavage, but as a misappropriation and inflation of a very specific and limited term. There are no “two camps” because Huadu is not a camp. Everyone who is “Huadu”, as Cole correctly observes, is also Taidu. If tomorrow Beijing said it no longer objected to Taiwan independence, this nebulous Huadu crowd would wave good bye to the ROC without a second thought.

Ben Goren and Michael Turton own Letters from Taiwan and The View from Taiwan respectively.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: