World View: Pro-Independence Rallies in Taiwan Press for Faster Separation from China

Taiwan to hold independence rally in challenge to Beijing

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pro-independence rallies in Taiwan press for faster separation from China
  • China continues massive crackdown on non-indigenous religions
  • China’s deal with the Vatican stirs concerns in Taiwan

Pro-independence rallies in Taiwan press for faster separation from China

Pro-independence demonstrators shout slogans during a rally in Taipei, Taiwan, on Saturday (AP)
Pro-independence demonstrators shout slogans during a rally in Taipei, Taiwan, on Saturday (AP)

Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rallied in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, on Saturday to pressure the government of President Tsai Ing-wen to be more confrontational with mainland China and to move faster towards independence.

Tsai Ing-wen leads the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), formed as a reaction to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, where several thousand peacefully protesting students were brutally murdered by Chinese security forces in a huge bloodbath. They have been “pro-independence” from the beginning, but in official government positions when winning elections, they have adopted the 1992 “One China Consensus” which says that China and Taiwan are one country, but which leaves the meaning of that phrase ambiguous.

However, since winning the presidential election early in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen has gone farther than previous DPP politicians by refusing to endorse the 1992 consensus, instead saying that she “respected … the common understanding” between China and Taiwan, without saying what that means. Her refusal to endorse the 1992 consensus has triggered the usual stream of hysterical screaming threats from Chinese officials, and relations between China and Taiwan have been deteriorating steadily.

The rally was organized by a new pressure group called the Formosa Alliance. The rally actually represents a split in the pro-independence movement because Tsai has been taking a relatively cautious approach to China, while the Formosa group want to take steps toward independence more quickly.

In 2005, China passed the Anti-Secession Law, which orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed. Taiwanese officials have said many things since 2005 that, arguably, could trigger the anti-secession law, and Saturday’s independence rally adds one more.

Because China’s armed forces are several times bigger than Taiwan’s, it is generally believed that China would easily defeat Taiwan in a war, especially if the U.S. did not honor its commitment to mutual defense. The quick win would be achieved first by a barrage of missiles striking government and military targets, followed quickly by special forces ferried across the strait for a quick kill.

However, Foreign Policy has published a detailed analysis by which Taiwan can win a war with China. The Taiwanese, Japanese, and American leaders will have 30-60 days’ notice of an impending invasion because China will have to make preparations. So the Taiwanese will be prepared with booby traps, explosives, sea mines, and the Taiwanese soldiers will be far better prepared than their Chinese counterparts.

China has been using money and extortion to force a number of countries and international companies to declare that Taiwan is a province of China. Since Tsai became president, five countries have ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan and begun diplomatic relations with China: Sao Tome and Principe in 2016, Panama in 2017, and the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, and El Salvador in 2018. Only 16 countries plus the Vatican now recognize Taiwan under its formal name: the Republic of China. China has also pressured international companies, including airlines, to remove “Taiwan” from their company websites, or replace it with “Taiwan, province of China,” if the companies want to continue doing business in China.

With China and the Vatican having concluded a historic agreement on the appointment of bishops in China, people in Taiwan are now concerned that the Vatican will also switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. Channel News Asia and and Bloomberg and Foreign Policy (25-Sep)

China continues massive crackdown on non-indigenous religions

By one estimate, China’s Christian population has swelled from a few million in the early 1980s to 100 million this year – in comparison, the Communist Party has 90 million members.

China this year has become increasingly bloody and violent against the four supposedly approved non-indigenous religions, Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestantism, as I described in a recent article: “14-Oct-18 World View — China defends million-prisoner ‘reeducation camps’ and Sinicization of Islam in Xinjiang”

In that article, some commenters criticized me for implying that Islam and Christianity are equivalent in some way. Actually, the article in no way implies that. The point was that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers Islam and Christianity to be equivalent, and the same for all of the non-indigenous religions.

In China’s multi-millennial imperialistic history, China has always been at war or close to it: invading neighbors to exterminate them and take their land, or planning and preparing for such an invasion, or being invaded by a neighbor, or in the midst of a massive internal civil war. China’s indigenous “religions” – Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Confucianism and Daoism – are all aimed at unifying behind the government and winning wars.

Each one of the non-indigenous religions has been used at one time or another, sometimes successfully sometimes not, as a belief system to create a populist movement to overthrow a dynasty or a government.

This became particularly frightening to the CCP on June 4, 1989, when tens thousands of students from all over China traveled to Beijing and rallied in Tiananmen Square, causing the CCP to vicious murder thousands of them, creating a bloodbath. This show of mass protest showed the Chinese leadership how easy it would be for them to be toppled by a mass movement, and so they have been extremely vicious towards all non-indigenous religions. And then when the Soviet Communist Party collapsed in 1991, they went into a full-scale panic.

So to the CCP, Islam and Christianity are exactly the same, as are all the non-indigenous religions. And they all must be subject to “Sinicization,” which means that they must conform to Chinese government policies or face jailing or destruction.

In April of this year, China’s government issued its Sinicization decree, called by the Orwellian name “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief.”

There are six areas of Sinicization: intensifying political identification, integrating religion into Chinese culture, establishing theological thought with Chinese characteristics, setting up a management system for the church with Chinese characteristics, exploring liturgical expression with Chinese elements, and using Chinese aesthetics in church buildings, pictures, and sacred music.

According to the decree:

It also means guiding religious groups to support the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system; uphold and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; develop religions in the Chinese context; embrace core socialist values; carry forward China’s fine traditions; integrate religious teachings and rules with Chinese culture; abide by state laws and regulations, and accept state administration in accordance with the law.

This paragraph gives complete administrative control of the religion to the CCP and permits the CCP to monitor all religious activities. The crackdown has been particularly brutal this year.

China's destruction of the Golden Lampstand evangelical mega-church, which reportedly had a congregation of 50,000 people (AP)
China’s destruction of the Golden Lampstand evangelical mega-church, which reportedly had a congregation of 50,000 people (AP)

Several months ago, China’s storm troopers demolished a massive evangelical church using bulldozers and dynamite. The Jindengtai (“Golden Lampstand”) mega-church, which reportedly had a congregation of 50,000 people, was demolished. Last month, the Zion Protestant Church in Beijing was banned because the administration refused to install closed-circuit television cameras that the CCP could use to monitor all activity.

In other cases, Chinese policies have stormed into people’s homes and replaced the pictures of Jesus Christ and other religious symbols with pictures of Xi Jinping, with the implication that people should be worshipping Xi Jinping as God.

Any person who violates the government’s rules can be tortured or jailed or sent to re-education camps. The most extreme example of this so far is Xinjiang province, where a million ethnic Uighurs are being tortured, raped, and beaten in re-education camps.

I was listening to a BBC report a couple of days ago, interviewing someone who had a number of Uighur friends living in Xinjiang province. He rattled off a list of the offenses that could get you sent to a re-education camp, things like not saying “hello” to a Chinese official when you pass him in the street. He also mentioned “giving up smoking.” It turns out that if you give up smoking, then it means that you are planning to become an extremist and terrorist, so you have to be sent to a re-education camp. State Council Information Office – Protecting religious freedom and Deutche Welle (19-Jan-2018) and Reuters and China Today

China’s deal with the Vatican stirs concerns in Taiwan

Another section of the sinicization document says the following:

Religious groups and religious affairs are not subject to control by foreign countries … This principle is a historic choice made by Chinese religious believers in the Chinese people’s struggle for national independence and social progress, as Catholicism and Protestantism, which were known as foreign religions in China, had long been controlled and utilized by colonialists and imperialists.

This rule has been particularly applied to Catholics, since Catholics have allegiance to the Pope in the Vatican, and the Pope is presumably either a colonialist or imperialist.

There are about twelve million Catholics in China. Seven million of them belong to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is actually a CCP political organization and is “Catholic” in name only. The other five million belong to “underground” Catholic churches, which are barely tolerated by the government, but which retain allegiance to the Pope.

In the last few decades, many Catholic priests in China have gone to jail for years and been tortured for their refusal to reject their vows and the guidance of the Pope.

So many of these people feel betrayed by the Pope because the Vatican last month agreed to a “compromise” where the Vatican recognized seven bishops who were ordained by the CCP without the approval of the Vatican. There was another part to the deal, where China promised to accept some bishops in the “underground” church who had been ordained by the Vatican, but China has so far not fulfilled that promise.

It appears that the Vatican has completely given in to China in order to gain approval from China.

This has raised concerns in Taiwan that the Vatican will go further in giving in to China by cutting ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan has about 300,000 Catholics, and Taiwan, unlike China, has complete freedom of religion. The Taiwanese government apparently does not fear that the Catholics will form a secret society whose purpose is to overthrow the government, which is what has happened many times in China. If, as many fear, the Vatican withdraws its recognition from Taiwan, then the Pope will lose all credibility with the Catholics in Taiwan and will be held in contempt by millions of people in “underground” Catholic churches in China. SCMP (22-Sep) and Diplomat (21-Sep) and South China Morning Post (30-Mar) and Free Catholics in China and South China Morning Post

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, China, Tiananmen Square Massacre, Formosa Alliance, Sinicization, Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Chinese Communist Party, CCP, Golden Lampstand evangelical mega-church, Zion Protestant Church, Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association
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