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Taiwan

Ideas

"Collateral Benefit": Could Putin's Launching A Failed War Make The World Better?

Consider the inverse of "collateral damage." Envision Russia's defeat and the triumph of a democratic coalition offers reflection on the most weighty sense of costs and benefits.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The concept of collateral damage has developed in the course of so-called "asymmetrical” wars, fought between opponents considered unequal.

The U.S. drone which targeted rebel fighters in Afghanistan, and annihilated an entire family gathered for a wedding, appears to be the perfect example of collateral damage: a doubtful military gain, and a certain political cost. One might also consider the American bombing of Normandy towns around June 6, 1944 as collateral damage.

But is it possible to reverse the expression, and speak of "collateral benefits"? When applied to an armed conflict, the expression may seem shocking.

No one benefits from a war, which leaves in its trace a trail of dead, wounded and displaced people, destroyed cities or children brutally torn from their parents.

And yet the notion of "collateral benefits" is particularly applicable to the war that has been raging in Ukraine for almost a year.

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A Perfect Storm Of China-Taiwan Hostility: Will It Snap In 2023?

The past year has added new elements into the showdown across the Taiwan Strait, from Nancy Pelosi's visit to the war in Ukraine to Xi jinping's power grab. Now we may be reaching a tipping point that could lead to a military showdown, even if the question of when is still wide open.

-Analysis-

TAIPEI — To predict what might happen in the Taiwan Strait in 2023, one needs to bear in mind the profound influence of three significant geopolitical events in 2022: the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. member of Congress Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan — followed by China's retaliatory military exercise — and, finally, Xi Jinping’s historic third term as president.

The common belief is that Xi Jinping aims to unify Taiwan in his next 10 years (or more) of rule.

These three developments have both advantages and disadvantages for Taiwan. Chinese optimism that Taiwan could be taken over in a matter of days has been brought down to earth as the world watches the Russian army continue to lose ground in Ukraine — suggesting China may have to rethink plans to attack Taiwan.

While China will not easily abandon its plans to take Taiwan by force, the outcome of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will certainly force China to be better prepared — meaning that unless something very serious happens, China will not start a war soon. After all, many key weapons of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are not yet in service, and it will take years to build a cohesive military force.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also had a negative impact on Taiwan. The U.S. supplied a large amount of arms and ammunition to Ukraine, resulting in the delayed delivery of equipment previously purchased by Taiwan. This seriously undermines Taiwan's plans to strengthen its national defense and deter China.

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The Taiwan Paradox: Preparing For War And Ready To Do Business With China

Large segments of Taiwan seem underprepared or indifferent when it comes to the possibility of Chinese invasion. But some are actively preparing, using Ukraine as a role model.

TAIPEI — Hsu has just completed the required four months of military service in Taichung, central Taiwan. He had spread the training over the course of the past four years, training for one month every year. “Many guys go there during the summer. It’s like a summer camp: we go to a shooting range, we make friends,” he explains.

Yet these words seem somehow strange, incongruous, as his country is threatened by one of the most powerful armies in the world. “There is a kind of collective denial toward the Chinese threat. Many still think that the possibility of an invasion, in the short or medium term, remains very unlikely,” says Raymond Sung, a political expert based in Taipei.

In Taiwanese companies too, people remain overly confident. "What’s the point of worrying? Taiwanese are working on the technologies of the future! Thinking about war would just distract them," argues Miin Chyou Wu, head of Macronix, a company that makes memory cards.

Though relatively rare, some companies are even expanding in China. That’s the case with Delta, a Taiwanese flagship that produces equipment essential to a green energy transition (including charging stations and solar panels). Based in the outskirts of Taipei, not far from the Keelung River, Delta recently bought new land last May in Chongqing, southwest China. Their goal is now to expand their electric generator factories.

“We’re not very worried: we know that we won’t be the ones who will solve the conflict with Beijing," says Alessandro Sossa-Izzi, the head of Delta’s communication team. "But our grandchildren’s grandchildren will."

Of course, the Taiwanese government is more concerned.

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How Trump’s Legal Troubles Look In Places Where Presidents Get Prosecuted

-Analysis-

What do South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, France, Portugal, and Iceland all have in common? They’re all wealthy democracies that have charged and prosecuted former heads of state or heads of government for criminal acts committed while in office.

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Society
Michelle Zhang

What Life Is Like As A Taiwanese Living In Mainland China

Tensions between Taiwan and China have ratcheted up over the last two years, peaking with Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August. The Taiwanese who have lived peacefully on the mainland for many years are now questioning their place in an increasingly hostile environment.

SHANGHAI — Weng was invited to a party by a mainland Chinese friend on the night that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan in August. The theme of the party was different from the previous ones: "Welcoming Taiwan back to China and celebrating the reunification of our country."

China has of course long claimed ownership over Taiwan, but relations between the two have deteriorated further since Pelosi's visit, which prompted China to conduct military exercises in areas that overlap with Taiwan's territorial waters.

The situation has made life difficult for Taiwanese people like Weng living on the mainland. In response to the party invitation, Weng responded with a joke. “Haha, what if Taiwan is not going back, wouldn't that be a slap in the face?”

He is 37 years old and has lived in China for 16 years. He had even bought an apartment at the request of his ex-girlfriend’s parents and settled down here.

On the same night as Pelosi's plane landed, the internet in China was abuzz with emotional posts: "When Pelosi arrives in Taiwan, it is time for the unification of the motherland", "Unification of Taiwan by force", "No one will be left behind on the island", "the unification of the motherland is unstoppable" ... The top 10 trending topics on Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent to Twitter) were all related to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, with "#Taiwan media reports Pelosi landing at 22:00" receiving nearly 1.3 billion views in one night.

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Gorbachev Dies, Taiwan Tensions, Queen Stays In Scotland

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the world pays tribute to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who died at 91, the Taiwan Strait sees renewed tension and the Queen breaks with tradition. Meanwhile, Cynthia Martens unpacks the unraveling of Moscow's intellectual property standards in the wake of international companies leaving Russia.

[*Danish]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

All Eyes On Southern Ukraine, Baghdad Clashes, Pumpkin Ride

👋 Da'anzho!*


Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine launches a counteroffensive to retake Kherson in the south of the country, deadly clashes rock Iraq after cleric al-Sadr resigns, and the world record for pumpkin paddling (you read that right) gets broken. We also turn to Ukraine’s news platform Livy Bereg to see how Russian propaganda plays out across European countries.



[*Eastern Apache]

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Geopolitics
Lee Yee On

Far Out, Far East: Meet North Korea's Biggest Booster In Taiwan

"Taiwanese would laugh at the leader worship of the North Koreans, but wasn't that what we did in the days of Chiang Kai-shek?"

TAIPEI — On the evening of April 15, a crowd of nearly 100 people eagerly swarmed inside an ordinary building in Taipei's Ximending neighborhood. The occasion? The "Sun Festival", which commemorates the birthday of the first leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, and one of the most important holidays each year.

The venue was decorated in a North Korean style, with DPRK flags and photos of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il visible all around, while the tables displayed North Korean-made noodles, biscuits, tins, soaps, cigarettes and toy rifles.

Most attendees were in their 20s and 30s, with males outnumbering females by about 2-to-1. There were couples, friends and even a family with children. Everyone who attended received a small North Korean flag, two slices of Korean fried green bean cake on a paper plate and a portion of Korean seaweed rice rolls.

In addition to the "North Korean Lifestyle Exhibition" as a selling point, the event also featured a speaker recounting his travels to the country. And just before the talk began, the speaker invited all participants to stand up, played the North Korean national anthem and then led them in a bow to the statue of Kim Il Sung.

Hung Hao, the organizer for this event, is also the manager of the Facebook page "DPRK Business News." The page now has more than 33,000 followers, but Hung's business is more than that: on his bilingual business cards, he details the other services that include investment opportunities in the DPRK, business missions and contacts, business information and consultation, the import and export of DPRK goods from Taiwan.

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Society
Hu Qingxin, Yin Yuet

Asian Cults And Castes, Where New Religions Meet Power Politics

Emerging religions and cults in Asia are deeply intertwined with politics: in China, religions need political approval, while in Japan religious groups use political platforms to assert themselves. Not even the killing of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, carried out by a member of the Unification Church, has prompted a closer look at exactly what role religion plays in society.

On July 8, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead while giving a speech in Nara.

The suspect confessed that he killed Abe because of his close relationship with the Unification Church, which his mother adhered to and went bankrupt for. The Unification Church was founded by Korean Messiah Claimant Sun Myung Moon in 1954, and entered Japan in 1956. At its peak, it had 4.7 million followers, but declined after the 1990s due to scandals related to donations and brainwashing.

Meanwhile, in an interview on July 4, the new Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, John Lee Ka-chiu, mentioned that he had been practising qigong for more than 25 years.

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In The News

Le Weekend ➡️ From Kabul To Taipei, History Returns And Refracts

August 6-7

  • Turkey’s NATO leverage on Sweden and Finland
  • Chinese tattoo ban and a patriotic twist
  • Wearable pet fans
  • … and much more. 👉 Note to readers: Our newsletter team will be taking a brief summer break. Worldcrunch Today will resume Aug 16. In the meantime, we invite you to follow our continuing regular coverage at the Worldcrunch website.
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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Taiwan Air Space, Azov Battalion Protest, Chorizo Space Gag

👋 ⴰⵣⵓⵍ!*

Welcome to Friday, where China’s military drills in the Taiwan Strait force airlines to cancel flights, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin meet in Sochi and a French scientist tricks Twitter with a slice of… chorizo. Meanwhile, French daily Les Echos looks at the phenomenon of “revenge travel” and how it may bring on lasting changes for tourism.

[*Azul - Tamazight, North Africa]

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Geopolitics
Lin Zi-li

Pelosi In Taiwan: Bold Diplomacy, Perfect Timing

"She's now the leader of the Western movement recognizing the existence of a democratic Taiwan, aiming to break Beijing's "one-China principle..." A Taiwanese political scientist argues the 19-hour visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have real lasting impact.

-Analysis-

TAIPEI — As many have noted, Nancy Pelosi’s recent 19-hour trip to Taiwan was the first visit to the island by a U.S. House Speaker since 1997. In the intervening 25 years, some things have changed, and others haven't.

While China is now a major world economic and military power, cross-Strait relations are similarly marked by high levels of hostility and mistrust.China still wants reunification, Taiwan still supports the status quo, and there is no room for compromise.

The question of why Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan despite warnings from China begins to show what drives her, and what's at stake.

Her trip was a critique of China's growing ability to shape the international order. During a much earlier visit to Beijing, in 1991, Pelosi, already a member of the U.S. Congress, was temporarily arrested by the Chinese police and expelled from the country after pulling a black banner in Tiananmen Square "dedicated to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy in China."

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