CARTOON: Flagging China's Hypocrisy and Weakness

CARTOON: Flagging China's Hypocrisy and Weakness
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China would never meddle in another country's internal affairs, would it?

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China is engaged in an all-out mission to erase Taiwan's presence from the international sphere.

The latest salvo erupted this week with China's foreign ministry leaning on Vietnam to instruct Taiwanese companies to stop flying the Taiwan flag in order to protect themselves from anti-Chinese protests.

Last week, the Vietnam government gave permission for Taiwanese company Kaiser 1 Furniture Industry to fly the Taiwan at its factory near Ho Chi Minh City, only to have Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, bring the hammer down on the Vietnamese authorities for allowing this expression of sovereignty.

Taiwanese companies often become embroiled in demonstrations against their Chinese counterparts, notably in 2014, when Vietnam was engulfed in mass protests against China's positioning of an oil rig in South China Sea waters claimed by Vietnam.

At the time, Kaiser 1 Furniture suffered damage amounting to US$1 million as a result of misdirected protest action, company president Lo Tsu-wen (羅子文) told Taiwan's state news agency CNA.

Clearly, with thousands of Vietnamese workers recently protesting against pro-China provisions in a recent draft law on governance of three special economic zones, there is a need for Taiwanese firms to distinguish themselves from anti-China backlash.

Perhaps China could elide the need for such representation by trying harder to reverse a situation in which only one in 10 Vietnamese have a favorable impression of the country, the lowest of any country (including Japan, by the way) polled by the Pew Research Center?

Moreover, Geng's pressurizing the Vietnamese amounts to blatant meddling in another country's internal affairs, an accusation that Beijing is quick to level at foreign governments when they bring up, say, China's human rights practices.

The flag controversy is just the latest in an ever expanding list of petty actions taken by the Communist Party of China to limit Taiwan's global visibility, coming on the back of last week's callous interference that kept a Taiwanese high-school choir from performing at a United Nations building in Vienna, the pressure on international airlines to change their Taiwan designations, the threats to multinational companies like Gap, Marriott International and Zara, the censoring of references to Taiwan Cultural Days in Spain last October – the list goes on and on.

There is seemingly no front safe from the pernicious effects of this drive, which has its roots in the Communist Party of China's fundamental weakness: that just off the coast of Xiamen, there is a flourishing democracy that does its level best to take account of the demands and wishes of all its 23 million people, and which does not require mass censorship, the repression of human rights and self-determination, or historical revisionism to survive.

Oh, and Taiwan doesn't imprison its cartoonists either, and for that we can be truly thankful.

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Editor: David Green

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