Friday, January 16, 2009

And they were doing so well

It was another rough day for the Chinese Communist Party, with the biggest blow coming from a most unexpected source - Taiwan.

Beyond the Taiwanese straits, things pretty much followed the new normal. The European Parliament raked Eutelsat over the coals for shutting out New Tang Dynasty Television (Epoch Times), but the EP has little real power. Senator Hillary Clinton (part of arguably the friendliest American Administration the CCP ever faced) gave the usual fog of words on her way to becoming Secretary of State (McClatchy via Yahoo). South Korean appeaser-in-chief Kim Dae-jung tried his hand at advising President-elect Obama (Washington Times), while the American "engagement" crew held another gathering to blast "isolationary policies" (Epoch Times).

Meanwhile, the usual platitudes about fighting corruption (Bloomberg) came with the ever-increasing warnings to from the higher ranks to the rest of the cadres of the economic problems ahead (Agence France Presse via Yahoo), which was likely done to reinforce the former because there won't be as much bounty to steal. Add to it the typical persecutions (BBC and Epoch Times) and one is left with a series of events and news that was par for the course.

The news from the island democracy, however, was chilling - for Beijing (AFP via Yahoo):

A Taiwanese government official and a legislator's aide were arrested Thursday for allegedly leaking state secrets to China, officials and reports said.

Wang Ren-bing, a specialist in the presidential office, and Chen Ping-ren, aide to a ruling Kuomintang lawmaker, were taken into custody early Thursday on suspicion of violating national security laws, said a spokesman at Taipei district court.

The spokesman declined to comment on reports that Chen allegedly passed information on the May 20, 2008 inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou he obtained from Wang to Chinese intelligence.

The United Daily News, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday that Wang photocopied documents pertaining to the handover of power to Ma from his predecessor Chen Shui-bian as well as the presidential office organisational charts and division phone numbers.

Now, under normal circumstances (even the new normal), it would be Taiwan alone that would suffer the consequences of this embarrassment. However, this Taiwanese government specifically campaigned on a platform of non-confrontation with the CCP. President Ma's determination to follow through on that has spooked larger numbers of Taiwanese, and not just the supporters of the anti-Communist Democratic Progressive Party, which Ma tossed out of power with his election win last year.

The fact that Ma's party employed a conduit for sending information to Communist China will remind everyone why they were suspicious of Ma's Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party in the first place (it lost the elections of 2000 and 2004 over concerns it was too cozy with the CCP), which is the last thing the cadres need right now.

We already knew that the Communist-Nationalist charm offensive was falling flat - with less than one in fifteen Taiwanese asking for reunification under Communist rule. Now the rest of the country - but especially the voters who pulled the lever for the Nationalists due to domestic issues - will have to think long and hard before voting "blue" (color of the Nationalists and their allies) again.

Taiwan was one of the few bright spots for the CCP in 2008. Amidst the poisoned exports, the Olympic flop, and the economic slowdown, the cadres could look to the friendly government on the island and realize that its primary goal (gobbling Taiwan up) was becoming closer to reality. That "progress" could very well be halted in its tracks, giving the anti-Communist "green" coalition (DPP and its friends) time to regroup and make its case that resistance to the CCP trumps everything else.

After all, even most Taiwanese who wanted friendly relations between Beijing and Taipei probably didn't have this in mind.

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