There is no geopolitical “status quo” for Taiwanese people to support, because “things keep changing,” according to Sylvia Feng (馮賢賢), the chief editor of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) communications policy for the 2012 and 2016 elections in Taiwan.
Speaking at a panel discussion in Taipei on Thursday, Feng said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is ”an even more violent dictator than his predecessors” and added that most Taiwanese people have become “numb” to this kind of “existential threat.” People living in Taiwan choose to ignore China’s daily military drills around Taiwan because “the horror of war is something that people don’t want to be confronted with,” she said, referring to polling which suggests a preference for the “status quo.”
Panelists at the discussion were asked questions about what they believe Taiwanese people want for Taiwan and what other countries can do to help steer its future.
On the former, Feng noted that people in Taiwan increasingly identify themselves as Taiwanese and that the name and constitution of the Republic of China was like “an albatross hanging around our neck [which is] something we would love to get rid of but cannot.”
On the latter, Feng said she believed the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s aid if China attacked Taiwan.
“The United States will come to Taiwan’s rescue not because it’s a superhero … but rather [because] it’s in America’s interests,” she said. “Taiwan is the anchor point of the first island chain. If that is broken, both Japan and the United States will be at stake. It’s a matter of national security for the United States.”
As the discussion moved on to focus on how the U.K. might show support for Taiwan, Feng — who is also former president of Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS) — criticized the BBC’s Chinese Service’s journalistic standards. She said translations had been awkward and inaccurate, and that she had recently watched an interview from the channel in which the journalist “sounded like a Chinese national rather than a BBC journalist.”
“We in the journalism business would have high regard for BBC standards,” Feng said, “whereas when you read anything from the BBC Chinese Service it’s a totally different matter.”
Speaking more widely on the U.K.’s positions on Taiwan, another panelist, Min Chao (趙敏), formerly a senior editor at the China Post who also worked for Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), made a number of suggestions.
These included: Disinviting China from coronation of King Charles, phasing out Confucius Institutes (孔子學院) and replacing them with Taiwan Centers for Mandarin Learning (臺灣華語文學習中心), exchanges and cooperation in filming or documentary making, and showing more tangible support for people of the people of Hong Kong.
On top of these, Aurora Chang (張瓊⽅), East Asia Regional Coordinator at International Tibet Network, said that the attack on a protester at a Chinese consulate in Manchester last year was unacceptable and should have consequences. Zoe Lee (李菁琪), a lawyer and Taiwanese Green Party candidate for Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, said the experience of Taiwanese students being forced to select their nationality as “Taiwan, Province of China” should be “canceled.”
The event, Taiwan Respected: Listening to Taiwanese on the Identity and Future of Taiwan and Cross-Strait Relations, was hosted by the Taiwan Policy Centre think tank, together with New Bloom and NüVoices Taipei.
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