Vol. 2, Issue 28
The Global Taiwan Brief Volume 2, Issue 28
Please Note: the Global Taiwan Brief will be taking a publication break following this issue, and will resume publication on July 26, 2017.
Political Warfare Alert: Forging a United Narrative between the CCP-KMT on the Second Sino-Japanese War
By: Russell Hsiao
Taiwan as Cyber Norm Setter
By: David An
What China’s Stance on Hong Kong Means for US-Taiwan Relations
By: Joseph A. Bosco
Political Warfare Alert: Forging a United Narrative between the CCP-KMT on the Second Sino-Japanese War
Russell Hsiao is the executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute and chief editor of the Global Taiwan Brief.
This month marked the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (also known as the July 7th Incident, 七七事變). This relatively minor clash between a small regiment of the Nationalist Army and the Japanese Imperial Army from 7-9 July 1937 sparked what many war historians believe led to the second Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945). Fighting the war against Imperial Japan was also a contributing factor that led to the Nationalist government’s defeat in the second Chinese civil war (1946-1950). To be sure, a state of hostility between China and Taiwan existed since the end of the civil war, and for decades the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has propagated a state-led narrative that diluted the role of the Republican government in Chinese history. Yet, in this past decade, there has been an apparent opening up in the CCP party-state’s official narrative on some parts of Chinese history involving the Nationalist party—ostensibly to forge a common narrative on a shared past and therefore future.
Concerned by Taiwan’s democracy—which has given birth to an overwhelming sense of a distinct identity among the population—the CCP has been engaged in a concerted effort since 2005 to re-assimilate the Nationalist Party into its political narrative. Most recently, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, in which Nationalist forces fought and successfully repelled the Japanese Imperial Army, the China-based Academy of History of Chinese Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (中國抗日戰爭史學會) and the Taiwan-based Memorial Association for the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (中華民族抗日戰爭記念協會), with support from Ke Yi Publishing House (克毅出版社), Nanjing University (南京大學), and Nanjing Zhongtang Keji (南京中堂科技), organized a conference in the former capital of the Republican government on July 5 titled “The Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War History” (中華民族抗日戰爭史學術研討會), and invited the former premier of Taiwan and chief of general staff Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村; b. 1919) to give the keynote address.
The battle-hardened retired general was the commander of the 9th Infantry Division from 1958 to 1961, and presided over the second Taiwan Strait Crisis that involved the shelling of Kinmen by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1958. Yet, in recent years, Hau has been a frequent participant in cross-Strait forums promoting a united front between the Kuomintang (KMT; Nationalist) and the CCP. In 2014, at a conference celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender in World War II, hosted by an organization called New China Youth (新中華兒女), Hau stated that “Taiwan’s future is the Republic of China’s future, the Republic of China’s future will be decided by all Chinese people” (台灣的前途就是中華民國的前途中華民國的前途由全體中國人來決定). Hau headlined another event in 2016, held in Washington, DC, focused on promoting a common narrative between Nationalist and Communist forces in fighting against the Japanese. The latter conference, entitled “A War to Remember – United Chinese Effort Against Japanese Invasion,” was hosted by the shadowy China Energy Fund Committee, with ties to the organization formerly known as the General Political Department.
In his keynote remarks in Nanjing, Hau declared that the victory against the Japanese in World War II is the “shared glory” (共同光榮) of both the Nationalists and the Communists. While seeking to forge a common political narrative on modern Chinese history, Hau noted five principles that must guide studies on the history of the Sino-Japanese war: first, it must stand on the side of the Chinese nation, not on the side of a particular party or person; second, it must stand on the side of academic enlightenment, and not be influenced by any political sympathies; third, it must stand on a strategic level; fourth, it must stand as a neutral observer, and use the perspective of younger generations to understand the truth of history; fifth, it must stand on the side of its influence on global human peace in understanding the relationship between the resistance to Japanese aggression and World War II.
Following Hau’s lead in heralding the united front against the Japanese, the former political commissar of the Nanjing Military Region Fang Zuqi (方祖岐) stated that “during the anti-Japanese resistance, the KMT was on the front line of the battlefield, whereas the CCP was behind the enemy lines, both fronts formed a comprehensive resistance against Japan, one cannot do without the other.” While it is a commonly accepted fact that the Nationalist Army suffered far more losses than the Communist Army during the war, Hau’s statement appears intended as political gloss that sought to promote an equal and thus shared sense of accomplishment between both the Nationalist party and Communist party in saving China.
The conference—held at the Purple Palace in Nanjing—was attended by over 240 participants. Nearly one hundred retired military officers from across the Taiwan Strait reportedly attended the meeting. Including Hau, there were 10 retired senior military officers from Taiwan, which included three former Army commanders Huang Xing-qiang (黃幸強), Chen Ting-chong (陳廷寵), and Li Zhen-lin (李楨林), former Deputy Defense Minister Wang Wen-xie (王文燮), former Presidential Military Strategy Advisor Zhou Zhong-nan (周仲南), former Navy Commander Miao Yong-qing (苗永慶), and former Air Force Commander Shen Guo-zhen (沈國禎), among others. There were also reportedly 17 retired senior military officers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), including Fang Zuqi, and prominent civilians like the director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Modern History Wang Jianlang (王建朗), and PRC officials such as the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) director, Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), and deputy director, Long Mingbiao (龍明彪), attended different functions related to meeting.
Deputy Director Long—who gave one of event’s opening speeches—touted the cooperation between the KMT and the CCP that formed a unified battle line in resisting the Japanese invasion. The deputy director also referred to some of the population in Taiwan during Japanese occupation that proactively participated in the motherland’s resistance against Japan and asserted that the victory of the Chinese people was the result of the joint effort of Taiwan compatriots in a unified struggle. Yet, Long lamented how the situation has changed over the past year and lambasted Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for not recognizing the so-called “1992 Consensus,” and not agreeing that the two sides of the Strait belonged to “one-China” (兩岸同屬一個中國), and therefore causing the tensions in cross-Strait relations. He also highlighted how “Taiwan independence” activities on the island were aimed at reducing awareness about the Chinese nation among Taiwan compatriots, and thereby limiting, even obstructing, cross-Strait non-governmental cooperation, and forming a threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The main point: In the past decade, there has been an apparent opening up in the CCP party-state’s official narrative on some parts of Chinese history involving the Nationalist party. The commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident is the latest in the string of United Front activities aimed at forging a common narrative on a shared past and therefore future.
 General Chen is also the first chairman of Memorial Association for the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression(中華民族抗日戰爭紀念協會)(http://www.mod.gov.cn/big5/education/2015-10/24/content_4641919.htm).
Update: For a detailed study on the events leading up to the Sino-Japanese war, see, e.g., Steve Tsang, “Chiang Kai-shek’s ‘secret deal’ at Xian and the start of the Sino-Japanese War,” Palgrave Communications 14003 (2015). http://www.palgrave-journals.com/articles/palcomms20143#fn54.
Taiwan as Cyber Norm Setter
David An is a senior research fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute and was previously a political military officer at the US Department of State.
In 2013, when Taiwan’s then-Intelligence Chief Tsai De-Sheng (蔡得勝) was subject to a public hearing in Taiwan’s legislature, he described a surge in China-sponsored cyber intrusions directed at Taiwan, and that Taiwan is used as a testing ground for future sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored attacks on US targets. These attacks have increased in intensity over the years. More recently, in May, Taiwan was one of the top targets—along with Russia and Ukraine—of the WannaCry ransomware that infected over 57,000 computers in 99 countries. Where there are challenges, there are also opportunities not only to strengthen one’s own capabilities, but also to work with others to overcome such challenges, to hold international dialogues and cooperative cyber security exercises, and especially to take a leading role in setting positive international cyber norms.
Cyber norms arise from international interactions related to cyber security, and the US State Department already counts Taiwan as a close partner in this area. The US State Department highlights in an official 2016 document that it has led cyber policy dialogues—specifically new digital economy dialogues—with Taiwan and others in ASEAN, and Colombia. With Taiwan’s developed economy and high tech industries, it is an important partner in the growing digital economy.
Since Taiwan is home to many of the world’s integrated circuit high tech industries, it fits well with Microsoft Corporation’s new cyber norm framework. Taiwan is a major player in the area of integrated circuits, semiconductors, and other high tech endeavors. Since June 2016, Microsoft has been calling for what it terms “nation-states” and private companies to adhere to its formulation of positive cyber norms, and these are all relevant to Taiwan:
- To maintain trust, nation-states should not ask companies to insert vulnerabilities such as backdoors, and private companies should not permit states to install backdoors on their products.
- Nation-states should handle vulnerabilities by reporting them to vendors rather than stockpiling or exploiting them, and private companies should keep to disclosure practices when handling vulnerabilities.
- Nation-states should not proliferate cyber weapons, and private companies should not traffic them.
- Nation-states should exercise restraint in developing cyber weapons, and private companies should collaborate to defend against attacks.
- Nation-states should limit engagement in offensive cyber operations to avoid creating a mass event.
- States should support the private sector to respond to cyber threats, and private companies should also support the private sector.
- Private companies should patch customers globally (much like how Microsoft runs its “patch Tuesdays” twice a month to update its software).
Taiwan appears to be doing well enough in these areas that the Center for Strategic and International Studies recommends that the United States and its allies to work even more closely with Taiwan: “The United States, Japan, and Taiwan should work together to identify networks and companies that are at risk, develop an early warning and rapid response system, and research new ways of detecting viruses that go beyond identifying signatures from past malware.”
The next biennial US Department of Homeland Security-led Cyber Storm VI exercise will likely occur in early 2018. Now may be a good time to consider Taiwan’s participation in this upcoming exercise so that Taiwan can set a good example for others. Previous Cyber Storm exercises were held in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2016. Cyber Storm activities fit well with Taiwan’s goals to enable organizations to prepare for cyber-attacks, exercise strategic decision making and interagency coordination, and validate information sharing relationships. In addition to Taiwan’s desire to set a good example in global cyber norms, Taiwan should be included in Cyber Storm because it is a major supplier in the integrated circuit industry, it is constantly under cyber espionage and attack, and already possesses advanced capabilities as demonstrated in the superior performance of its cyber team at DEFCON conferences.
Though Taiwan faces major cyber security threats, these are opportunities to continue to develop its own capabilities, cooperate with others on cyber security, and set the trend in cyber norms. The US State Department has already reported that it is working with Taiwan, and there are additional opportunities through DHS and other organizations. It is through these interactions that Taiwan will set a good example to the international community and continue to play an active role in cultivating norms of behavior in cyberspace.
The main point: With Taiwan’s leading role in the integrated circuit (IC) sector, it is poised to be a global cyber norm setter, and it therefore should actively participate in Cyber Storm and other such programs.
What China’s Stance on Hong Kong Means for US-Taiwan Relations
Joseph A. Bosco is a former China country director in the office of the secretary of defense, 2005-2006.
China’s Communist leaders have declared the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong outmoded and no longer relevant to changed circumstances.
They may have inadvertently provided U.S. President Donald Trump with a useful precedent to finally discard the obsolete and increasingly dangerous “One-China” myth.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in his regular Friday briefing that the 33-year-old agreement, “as a historical document, no longer has any practical significance, and it is not at all binding for the central government’s management over Hong Kong.”
That document guaranteed the people of Hong Kong the same rights and freedoms they had enjoyed during the last stage of British rule, to last “at least” until 2047. Given the erosion that has already taken place under Beijing’s control, the People’s Republic seems intent on ending those rights and freedoms 30 years earlier than the date they committed to. Xi Jinping’s tough warning about Chinese sovereignty during this week’s visit to the territory reinforced that message.
Beijing’s willingness to scrap what the British Foreign Office considers “a legally binding treaty, registered with the UN [which] continues to be in force” demonstrates China’s opportunistic, ever-shifting view of history.
Beijing has also dredged up a sketchy map of the South China Sea, drawn by China’s Nationalist government in 1947, and used it to claim Chinese control over the waters and land features of virtually the entire region.
Last summer, an international arbitral tribunal convened under the Permanent Court of Arbitration concluded that China’s claims are purely fanciful and entirely invalid under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which the PRC has signed and ratified. Beijing simply rejected the ruling as null and void and proceeded to defy it by continuing to dredge and build artificial islands, destroying coral reefs in the process. Then it constructed airfields and missile sites to enforce its spurious claims by military means. All that activity violated the environmental and peaceful purpose provisions of UNCLOS.
Trump, no fanatic adherent to official tradition and the practices and commitments of his predecessors to start with, may well be advised to return the favor and apply some of Beijing’s logic to the unjustifiably revered document that opened U.S.-China relations—the 1972 Shanghai Communiquė.
That document, negotiated on behalf of President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong by Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai (周恩来), can fairly be considered the original sin of the US-China relationship.
The presumed obstacle to Nixon’s overture to China was the status of Taiwan. Beijing insisted that Washington concede the territorial sovereignty of a unitary, theoretically integrated China. That China would include the mainland ruled by Mao’s Communist Party and the island of Taiwan, controlled by the fiercely anti-communist Chiang Kai-shek.
Domestic American politics and international public opinion precluded explicit US acquiescence to that outcome at that time. So the two sides agreed to draft a joint communiquė in which each would state its position on Taiwan in ways that could be interpreted as having the semblance of agreement.
China’s statement was direct and clear: Taiwan is part of China, period — this became known as the “One-China” principle. Beijing declared further that if that result could not be reached peacefully, it would simply use force to achieve it.
The United States position expressed in the Shanghai Communique was more nuanced, and more ambiguous:
The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position (emphasis added).
That became known as America’s “One-China” policy.
At the time, no one actually knew, of course, what “all Chinese” wanted since there were no polls, let alone elections, under either the communist or anti-communist dictatorships. At least as importantly, the views of the native Taiwanese population were completely ignored. There was ample evidence that, having experienced the Chinese influx to the island that occurred when the Communists won China’s Civil War, they would hardly relish absorption by the rulers of the mainland.
As to how Taiwan’s future would be decided, the US side stated, “It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.” But it did not reaffirm the commitment to defend Taiwan under the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty signed when Nixon was vice president under President Dwight Eisenhower. Instead, the United States unilaterally removed forces from Taiwan and withdrew the Seventh Fleet from the Taiwan Strait. As the decades passed, Taiwan discarded its Nationalist dictatorship and moved to a democratic political system.
In his 1994 memoir, Nixon, who had conceived and implemented the China opening, recognized that the situation on Taiwan had changed so dramatically that now, “while they are in bed together economically, they are permanently separated politically” (emphasis added).
Trump has already cast doubt on the viability of the one China concept in today’s world, and shattered 40 years of precedent by speaking directly on the telephone with Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen. He has suggested further conversations are possible depending on the state of US-China relations, especially with regard to the North Korea nuclear and missile threat.
China’s abrogation of the UK-PRC agreement on Hong Kong gives Trump ample opportunity to adjust US policy on Taiwan in a more realistic way. Indeed, the case for declared obsolescence and a fresh start is more compelling for the Shanghai Communique than for the Sino-British Joint Declaration. For one thing, unlike the formal, UN-approved Sino-UK treaty, the Shanghai Communique is merely a bilateral pairing of divergent views by two states agreeing to disagree. Second, the 1972 communique is 12 years more out of date than the 1984 Hong Kong treaty, which Beijing apparently believes is no longer relevant.
Third, the Nixon-Kissinger understanding that China would help the United States extricate itself honorably from Vietnam was cynically betrayed as Beijing provided arms, men, and other material and diplomatic support to the communist regime in Hanoi until the North Vietnamese army massively invaded and subjugated South Vietnam.
Finally, the officially stated American intention that China allow the Taiwan situation to evolve peacefully has been frustrated from the outset as Beijing has built an overwhelming military force to conquer Taiwan at a time of its choosing — and to engage in conflict with the United States if it tries to stand in the way.
China’s 2005 Anti-Secession Law states unequivocally that Beijing will attack Taiwan not only if it declares independence, but also if it just takes too long to accept Chinese rule. (Unfortunately, Kissinger, unlike Nixon, goes along with the Chinese threat, telling Taiwan that China “will not wait forever for unification.”)
So, Trump, by virtue of his own demonstrated instincts and predilections and the changed political situation on Taiwan, and reinforced by Beijing’s unilateral shredding of the Hong Kong treaty, is on solid ground to revisit the Shanghai Communique.
He can start by removing the ambiguity and declaring forthrightly that the United States will defend Taiwan as surely it would have when the mutual defense treaty was in effect. He can put an exclamation point on it by pledging to conduct arms sales talks with Taiwan on a regular basis, announcing arms packages as an annual routine, and ensuring that the systems provided are of a nature, quality, and quantity—including submarines and F-35s—that, together with the US defense commitment, can actually deter a Chinese attack. That straight-from-the-shoulder Trump message would actually be a favor to Xi by preventing a tragic miscalculation regarding Taiwan’s capabilities and American resolve.
The main point: Chinese leader’s declaration that the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong is outmoded and no longer relevant to changed circumstances may have inadvertently provided President Donald Trump with a useful precedent to finally discard the obsolete and increasingly dangerous “One-China” myth.
(This article originally appeared in The Diplomat on July 5, 2017.)