World View: Taiwan’s Politicians Respond to the Brexit Vote

TAIWAN, Taipei : This photograph taken on April 21, 2016 shows Taiwan president-elect Tsai

This morning’s key headlines from

  • In new escalation, China cuts communications hotline with Taiwan
  • Taiwan’s politicians respond to the Brexit referendum result
  • Britain’s Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote

In new escalation, China cuts communications hotline with Taiwan

Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-wen

China is following up on last month’s ominous demands that Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-wen must explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China. The threatening demands were made just four days after Tsai took office. ( “26-May-16 World View — China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China”)

On Saturday, China announced that it was cutting a communication hotline with Taiwan that was set up last year in the waning days of the previous Ma Ying-jeou administration.

Ma is leader of the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) party, which supports the “1992 Consensus” that there is “one China,” leaving it ambiguous what that means. KMT favors the “one China” principle and unification with mainland China, and which has fully supported all of China’s claims in the South China Sea.

Ma and China’s president Xi Jinping held a highly publicized landmark meeting in Singapore on November 7 of last year. The purpose of the meeting was for Xi to support Ma Ying-jeou’s bid for reelection in the upcoming January elections. The support didn’t help, as Ma’s opponent Tsai Ing-wen won overwhelmingly, and took office in May.

One outcome of the November 7 meeting was to set up a high-level hotline between Taipei and Beijing to handle emergencies. The hotline was used for the first time on December 30, when officials for both countries exchanged New Year’s greetings.

The new president, Tsai, is the leader of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which in the past has favored Taiwan independence from China. When the DPP was in power prior to 2008, relations between China and Taiwan were so bad that in 2005 Beijing passed an “anti-secession law” saying that China would take military action against Taiwan if there were any moves or speeches in the direction of Taiwan independence from China.

In her inauguration speech last month, Tsai said that she “respected” the “common understanding” between Taiwan and China, but did not say what the common understanding was. This infuriated the Chinese. According to Beijing state media, Tsai made “a painful effort not to answer one important question…, whether or not to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus embodying the one China principle.”

So on Saturday, China shut down the hotline that had been set up for emergencies as a result of last year’s meeting between Xi and Ma. According to a Chinese official:

Because the Taiwan side has been unable to confirm the 1992 consensus that embodies the common political foundation of the one-China principle, the mechanism for contact and communication between the two sides has already been suspended.

This infuriated Taiwanese officials who said that they will not give in to China’s “blackmail and coercion.”

China’s action to shut down the hotline was probably triggered by another incident. On Friday, 25 Taiwanese in Cambodia, accused of telecommunications fraud, were extradited to China rather than to Taiwan. China demanded that Cambodia send them to China, since sending them to Taiwan would acknowledge Taiwan’s existence as an independent entity.

Taiwan responded on Friday by using the hotline to protest the extraditions to China, and accused China of “abducting” Taiwanese citizens saying, “It is inappropriate for China to impede cooperation to fight crime for political factors.” One day later, China shut down the hotline. Shanghaiist and AFP and China Post (Taipei – 31-Dec-2015)

Taiwan’s politicians respond to the Brexit referendum result

The success of Britain’s Brexit referendum was a shock to the Chinese as much as anyone, but it has special significance for China. If the UK can hold a referendum and leave the European Union, then why can’t Taiwan and Hong Kong hold their own referendums and leave China?

Wu Ping-jui, an official in the administration of the new president Tsai Ing-wen, said that when China shut down the communications hotline in order to force the Taiwanese to accept its version of the “1992 Consensus,” it was tantamount to “blackmail and coercion.” He said that China’s actions would simply “toughen up Taiwanese determination.”

Wu then referenced the Brexit referendum. If China demands that Taiwan accept the 1992 consensus, “do they mean for us what to choose? This is not done in any democratic country.” He cited the Brexit referendum, in which each and every British citizen was able to show his or her will.

An official from the opposition KMT party, which favors Taiwan integration with China, also congratulated Britain on the Brexit referendum. However, he said that no similar referendum could be held in Taiwan, because referendums could only be held on matters of crucial national interest, and because “the requirements of our Referendum Law need not be relaxed at this time, despite attempts by pro-independence legislators to do so.” China Post (Taipei) and China Post

Britain’s Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote

Protester in fake blood outside Westminster on Friday carries sign, 'Brexit what a bloody joke.' Other signs read, 'I am not British - I am European' (Daily Mail)
Protester in fake blood outside Westminster on Friday carries sign, ‘Brexit what a bloody joke.’ Other signs read, ‘I am not British – I am European’ (Daily Mail)

Millennials in Britain are expressing fury that their futures have been ruined by the passage of the Brexit vote by the Boomer generation, meaning that Britain will no longer be part of the European Union, and the Millennials will be denied the benefits that their parents had.

According to YouGov exit polls, Millennials voted overwhelmingly for the “Remain” side, meaning that the UK would remain in the EU, while Boomers voted for the “Leave” side. The breakdown by age group was:

  • 18-24: 75% Remain
  • 25-49: 56% Remain
  • 50-64: 44% Remain
  • 65+: 39% Remain

Yorkshire Post columnist Grant Woodward wrote:

Brexit will come to be seen as the Baby Boomers’ ultimate betrayal of younger generations and those that will follow. A knee-jerk response to a series of red herrings, a protest vote with the potential for long-term catastrophe that they won’t be around to endure.

Typical tweets were as follows:

“So all the old people gave us a future we didn’t want. You’ve all had your careers, why screw it up for us”

“I’m scared. Jokes aside I’m actually scared. Today an older generation has voted to ruin the future for the younger generation. I’m scared.”

“I’m actually really upset how selfish the older generations have been”

“The fact that the older generation have whole heartedly made a decision that the youth of today DO NOT WANT seems strange, yes I’m bitter”

Among the American politicians, Donald Trump is on the “Leave” side, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are on the “Remain” side. Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, DPP, Democratic Progressive Party, Xi Jinping, Ma Ying-jeou, KMT, Kuomintang, 1992 Consensus, One-China Policy, Wu Ping-jui, Brexit, European Union, Millennials, Boomers, YouGov, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Grant Woodward, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
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