What you need to know
It seemed innocuous enough: a conference commemorating Sun Yat-sen’s 150th anniversary. But look at the sponsors from the Chinese side and things become a little more interesting.
The Foundation for the Development of the Chinese Nation (中華民族發展基金會), a non-profit registered in Taiwan on May 12, has recently drawn the attention of legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who fear it could act as a “shadow” Straits Exchange Foundation to undermine President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) cross-Strait policies.
With approximately NT$30 million (US$958,000) in declared assets, the Foundation is chaired by former SEF chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) and has also recruited a number of officials who served during the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration, including former SEF adviser Chu Ou (朱甌), former SEF vice chairman Chou Ji-shiang (周繼祥) and former minister without portfolio Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇).
Records from the Ministry of the Interior indicate that the Foundation’s mission statement is to “advance the Chinese nation’s development; further the Chinese nation’s rejuvenation; strengthen the Chinese nation’s solidarity; promote the Chinese nation’s spirit; explore the Chinese nation’s roots; bring renown to the Chinese nation’s achievements and elevate the Chinese nation’s talents” — all terminology that is oddly reminiscent of that used by various United Front organizations across the Taiwan Strait that work toward the “re-unification” of Taiwan and China.
Lin, who replaced Chen Wei-ti (陳韋迪) as chairman of the Foundation following its registration, denies claims that he intends to operate as a baishoutao, or go-between.
Whatever Lin’s intentions are, the Foundation didn’t waste time before it began rubbing elbows with rather peculiar organizations in China. On July 17, the Foundation co-sponsored a forum in Taipei to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), who is regarded as the founding father of the Republic of China.
Speakers from the Chinese followed the usual script, emphasizing the need for greater cultural exchanges — a red flag for anyone who monitors Chinese information/political warfare — between the two sides, the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” and the promotion of peaceful cross-Strait ties under the “spirit” of Sun Yat-sen.
Such open displays of Chinese ideology weren’t entirely surprising given that, besides the Foundation, the forum’s sponsors were dominated by pro-unification organizations such as the Want Daily, a product of pro-Beijing Tsai Eng-meng’s (蔡衍明) Want China Times Group, the Chinese Women’s Party (中華婦女黨) — the party of Mainland spouses in Taiwan — the China Population Culture Promotion Association (中華人口文化促進會), and Cross-Strait Outlook (兩岸視點), another media organization. Among other things, the China Population Culture Promotion Association, which is located at the same address as the Chinese Women’s Party (No. 62 Chongqing South Road, Taipei), has been encouraging Chinese spouses in Taiwan to procreate and to give birth to as many Chinese babies as possible, a strange feat of ethnic engineering that is supposed to help China secure “re-unification” in the long term.
The elephant in the room, however, was China Huayi Broadcast Corp (中國華藝廣播公司, CHBC).
In a major report on Chinese information/political warfare, the U.S.-based Project 2049 Institute refers to CHBC as the “commercial persona” of 311 Base (61716 Unit), a Fuzhou-based entity which, according to the authors, is “at the forefront of applied psychological operations and propaganda directed against Taiwan.” The authors also observe that the commander of 311 Base doubles as CEO of CHBC. China Huayi is reportedly “very active” in Taiwan.
China Huayi general manager Ai Ke (艾克) gave a speech at the forum. Ai Ke is believed to be a pseudonym for Ai Songru (艾松如), who is allegedly a specialist in psychological warfare and formerly attached to the 16th Group Army (65301 Unit) Political Department. Following the peel-the-onion pattern of Chinese political/information warfare, Ai is also executive director of the Collaborative Innovation Center for Peaceful Development of Cross-Strait Relations (CICCSR, 兩岸關係和平發展協同新中心), which runs out of Xiamen University. The CICCSR has been active in organizing cross-strait forums aimed at “aims at establishing common ground for developing cross-Strait relations” and has participated at various conferences in the U.S.
Other speakers at the forum included former KMT chairman and Want China Times vice chairman Jason Hu (胡志強), the Foundation’s Lin Join-sane and Chen Wei-ti, China Women’s Party chairwoman Tu Minghui (涂明慧), and Wang Cho-chung (王綽中), an editor at Want Daily who was involved in efforts in 2012 to launch a new magazine with the CCP-linked Fujian Daily Group.
Whether he is conscious or not of the Chinese organizations he is collaborating with (and one hope he does, given his former position), former SEF chairman Lin’s new Foundation risks becoming yet another conduit for Chinese information/political warfare in Taiwan, efforts which as I pointed out in a recent book are likely to accelerate following Tsai’s election in January.
So much for Lin’s claim that his Foundation is “concerned with the public good, like any ordinary non-profit organization, and does not consider cross-strait issues a part of its main portfolio.”
First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White