My Hong Kongese Dream

From Denmark to Estonia

Month: January 2017

Cross-Strait Relation between mainland China and Taiwan(Chinese only)

兩岸關係論文

導言

民進黨主席蔡英文於二零一六年的總統大選以六百八十九萬票當選成為下屆台灣首位女總統,這意味著第三次政黨輪替即將出現,兩岸關係將有重大變化,而台灣的外交政策更帶望能打破現任總統馬英九「外交休兵」的消極方式,從而找出台灣應對中共的最佳方案。本文旨在透過分析過往與兩岸關係相連的歷史事件,從而根據政情、外交、經濟及文化方面了解兩岸關係的變化和未來走勢。

背景

國民黨跟共產黨自國共內戰後分別經歷了軍事衝突(1949-1979)及解凍階段(1979-1987)。兩岸關係經過熱戰及冷戰的洗禮後因為台灣解除實行三十八年的《臺灣省政府臺灣省警備總司令部佈告戒字第壹號》進入了和平對待的階段。

跟據《中華民國憲法增修條文》,台灣自1996年開始實行總統直選,並在第一屆台灣國民黨總統李登輝的「兩國論」主張下,與中國共產黨的政權抗衡,更一度中止了台灣主導的「財團法人海峽交流基金會」跟中國大陸主導的「海峽兩岸關係協會」之間的兩岸會談。

總統直選後四年,第一次政黨輪替出現,當時主張台灣獨立的民進黨總統陳水扁於二零零二年發表了「一邊一國論」,及後更於二零零八年推動「以臺灣名義加入聯合國全國性公民投票案」,不過方案因未夠一半投票率而告終。兩岸關係急轉直下。

國民黨總統馬英九自零八年上任後,再次出現政黨輪替,兩岸關係更因其偏軟的作風而好轉,但也有台灣民眾認為他沒有在對等尊嚴的情況下跟中共對話。從去年的兩岸領導人會談可見,馬英九未能說服中共領導人習近平撒回對台導彈,亦只有提及「一個中國」,卻省去了「各自表述」,令台灣民眾大感不滿。不過,此「習馬會」卻是兩地元首自國共內戰後首次會面,為促進兩岸關係打穩基礎。

政情

台灣侯任總統蔡英文雖然在當選後強調她會「維持現狀」,跟大陸維持良好的關係,可是當她在任陸委會主席期間,曾經跟另一位前國安會副秘書長林碧炤共擬「兩國論」,更曾經受銜點為「一邊一國論」到美國解話。於二零零三年,蔡英文在行政院大陸委員會上指「中華民國是主權獨立的國家」,可見蔡英文的兩岸政策在她未發表就職演說前也是模棱兩可。

外交

在蔡英文上任總統前兩個月,中華人民共和國跟西非國家甘比亞恢復外交,但由於中華民國跟甘比亞的邦交也是反反覆覆,故此除了現任總統馬英九對大陸此舉表示強烈不滿外,民進黨沒有太大反應,只表示「兩岸在國際上不要從事針對性競爭」。由此可見,即使馬英九由上任總統起主張「活路外交」,盡量避開主權問題,不過大陸並沒因此放棄與台灣的前邦交國建交,所以在可見的未來,蔡英文不可能用同樣被動的方式採取外交政策。

而最近肯亞遣返台灣人到中國大陸一事亦可見中方為「海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議」立下壞先列,因為當中的第一章第六節中列明「雙方同意依循人道、安全、迅速、便利原則,在原有基 礎上,增加海運或空運直航方式,遣返刑事犯、刑事嫌 疑犯,並於交接時移交有關卷證(證據)、簽署交接書。」不過,中方在未有通知台灣下便把台灣疑犯押回大陸,此舉將會逼使就讀法律出身的蔡英文在未來於司法管轄權上採取強硬措施。

經濟

應對馬英九政府早在二零零九年提出的《海峽兩岸經濟合作架構協議》,蔡英文在上任前提出了「新南下政策」,並希望台灣在未來能夠引導台灣企業在東南亞國家投資,從而強化印度跟東盟的整體關係。然而,根據香港貿發局對東盟市場的統計,東盟國家跟台灣的貿易只有4%,比而中國大陸的貿易額是接近台灣的四倍;而台灣佔東盟經濟體的總出口只有3.1%,只有中國大陸的三分之一。

如果蔡英文希望以加強跟東南亞國家的商業關係以抗衡中國向台灣於經濟上施壓,恐怕台灣應該想辨法如何跟大陸保持經濟關係的同時,亦不會削弱台灣的經濟自主性,以及兩岸的「對等」關係。

文化

雖然兩岸的「九二共識」均同意「一個中國,各自表述」的原則,可是雙方解讀的方式各有不同。在過去十五年中,兩岸人民有三次因中華民國國旗出現爭議。二零零一年,前台北市長馬英九於亞洲女子足球盃中不讓台灣球迷在球場內展示中華民國國旗,擔心中國隊會退出比賽,影響賽事; 二零一三年,台灣歌手張懸因在英國曼徹斯特大學的演唱會中展示中華民國國旗而導致北京的演唱會被取消;二零一五年,旅韓台灣歌手周子瑜因在韓國電視節目中展示中華民國國旗而被指支持台獨,後來被逼以短片形式向中國網民道歉,並「承認」自己是中國人。

上述事件均反映台灣人在國際活動或海外均受到大陸方面的壓力而放棄台灣人的獨特身份認同。不論上述主角支持台獨與否,可以肯定的是,大陸人民普遍未能接受台灣的現況是中華民國歷史的廷續,而台灣人的文化亦受到海外大陸人的質疑。長遠來說,如果雙方的文化衝突未能因大陸的經濟發展而減低,兩岸的「九二共識」會造成分歧,而「一個中國,各自表述」的原則更會蕩然無存,令蔡英文政府日後走上「暗獨」—暗地把台灣走上獨立之路。

The Rise of Islamic State (2015)

Background

The Islamic State(IS)  is a self-acclaimed state of government which declares sovereignty of muslim communities all over the world. Grown out of al-Qaeda in Iraq(AQI) in April 2013, the jihadist military group aims at creating new provinces to erase the Iraq-Syria border by carrying out terrorist attacks.

Unlike other terrorist groups, the IS is close to modern bureaucracy. It has several ministries maintain daily operations of the state in terms of health, education, environmental policies and religious rulings.

Apart from providing vaccination which Taliban banned, the terrorist group also provides certificates for babies who were born in their hospital. The governing authority’s stamp marks as, however, The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Education is another tactic of the IS to legitimize their governing position. In the last summer, Mosul, the second largest city of Iraq , was took over by the military group in order to get strategic advantage of building their “emperor”.

The group completely changed the education policy of Mosul University after shutting it down for about four months. While subjects related to democracy and political thought, hotel management and tourism along with archaeology would be banned, basic subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics and religion would be taught. However, the IS required male and female students should be separated, forcing female students to study from 9 am to 2pm  while males will study in the following 4 hours after girls.  

To further affirm their authority in Iraq, the Islamic extremists have destroyed Ancient statues in Mosul museum, which are 3,000-year-old artworks about Syrian history. The action showed that the IS wanted to eradicate the ancient historical root of the region to strengthen the ruling power of the IS. It is a propaganda showing the superiority of the jihadist group to destroy ancient human civilisation. While the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemns the terrorists as “their strategy to destabilize and manipulate population”, no further actions could be taken to stop them from destroying the cultural heritage which is protected by the UN.

The extremist group claims to extend their influence in several European countries, the Arabic countries, the Caucasus countries and even the US. According to an IS defector, there are 70% foreigners and 30% Syrians within the organization.

On the other hand, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, there was about 30,000 IS fighters including local supporters in late 2014. Few months later, it is estimated that there were around 20,000 overseas supporters of the IS from 90 different countries who left their homes and flew to Syria in order to join the Islamic group, according to Nicolas Rasmussen, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Among the surging number of foreign terrorist fighters, 3,400 of them are believed to be from Western countries, including more than 150 of them are US citizens.

Reactions of affected countries
The Saudi government joined the military action with the US against the IS in Syria last year. The authorities said there is a growing concern about the islamic group inspiring Saudi-based terrorists to challenge its government’s legitimacy and try to overthrow it. In the last summer, Riyadh, the largest city and capital of Saudi Arabia, mobilized 30,000 troops to strengthen security along its border with Iraq, the country which is seriously affected by the extremist group.

The Jordanian military doubled its number of troops along the border with Iraq as the IS threatened to erase the borders of Jordan. Allied with the US, Jordan joined an air strike operation with the US and several Arab countries on the Islamic rebels in Syria last year, claiming this is an act to protect its border. Some 2,000 civilians from Jordan were believed to have travelled to Syria to fight against the terrorist group in the past few years.

The Iranians have played a significant role in combating the IS extremist group. They have Revolutionary Guards to give professional analysis for Iraqi security forces, air strikes carried out by Iranian pilots and mobilisation of Shia militia backed by Iran. Iran has also been delivering weapons and strategists to Iraqi Kurdistan to withstand the military influence of the IS.

With a strong opposition on Islamic groups in the country, the United Arab Emirates was reported to carry out air strikes on the IS in Iraq before the joined Arab countries military operation with the US in Syria last September. But according to US officials, the oil country terminated its coalition force after the Jordanian pilot was captured.

Qatar is suspected to provide financial support for the Islamic rebels, according to Iraq’s Shia leaders. Yet, the Doha authority supported Al-Udeid Air Base, a US-led facility which carry out attack and surveillance missions to combat with the terrorist issue.

As a country lying between Europe and Middle East, Turkey takes an active role in defeating the Islamic rebels in Iraq and Syria.  Concerning its geographical proximity to Syria, there are more than 450 foreigners who have been detained or deported as they wanted to join the Islamic rebels. While the Turkish authority refused to sign an agreement on cooperating with the West and other Middle East states to encounter the terrorist group, the authority claimed to save 49 Turkish citizens who were kidnapped by the jihadist group in Mosul last June following a rescue operation by Turkish intelligence.

Dealing with influx of refugees from war zones in the Middle East countries along with killing and kidnapping of Lebanese security personnel, Lebanon suffered from a series of suicide bombings in its  largest city and capital Beirut. Even though the Lebanese authority hasn’t joined the US-led coalition operation against the IS, it has received advanced military weapons from the US to allow Lebanese army to defend their own territory under the harsh climatic conditions in Lebanon.

Hells Angels, a German motorcycle gang group, has pledged to support the Kurds and travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight against the German Islamic rebels in those countries. It is believed that there are around 400 German jihadists who joined the IS. However, referring to Germany’s domestic intelligence service (BfV), it is illegal to join the Kurdish Workers’ Party since it is banned as a terrorist organization in Germany.

Where does the money come from?

As the British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) suggested in a documentary, the Islamic State is the “World’s Richest Terror Army”. Approximately, the IS made $3 million a day from various financial resources such as selling oil, ransoming, human trafficking, and extortion. It was also suggested that the group had a total worth of more than $2 billion. Getting a monthly ‘salary’ of more than Syrian rebel groups or the Iraqi government can offer, the jihadists are paid around $400 per month. The money was moved in cash since there were no cheques.

Besides, referring to the US officials, the military group earned not less than $20 million last year from ransoms paid for hostages. Several French and Spanish journalists were good points of illustration. The Iraq Energy Institute also showed that the IS manages to have some 300 oil wells in Iraq.   

Analysis: Why the Islamic State?

The rise of Islamic State imposes a challenge to the existing world order, but it also reflects a disequilibrium of power distribution between the West and several Middle East countries. Comical it may sound, the US claims the Islamic State as one of the greatest threat to its own country, yet in the eyes of some of the extremists, the Americans should be blamed for their cultural imperialism.

Let alone the dominance of military presence of the US across the globe, its entertainment industry and mass media distribution also shaped the ‘universal values’ of ordinary lives. Capitalism and the ideas of freedom somehow contradicts with the traditional islamic values, yet the voices of the opposition could barely be heard since the US dominates both economic and military sectors. If direct confrontation is not an option for the radical Islamic population, then the attack aiming at creating a sphere of fear would be a tactic used by the jihadists.

This is only one of the causes for the rise of terrorism in general, though. The rapid expansion of the IS illustrated its success in operation and recruitment of fighters. More than suicide bombings and kidnappings, the group strategically make use of mass media and social media to promote their ideology, which is stigmatized by the Western media. Given the advancement of social media management, it becomes a world-known terrorist group as Twitter allows the information flows around the globe. Moreover, thanks to the Western media, now everyone knows about the massive killings and ransoming messages delivered by the terrorists as the mainstream media constantly display violent and bloody scenes about the terrorist group. This is a propaganda which the media should be responsible of filtering.

In spite of the fact that it is journalists’ duties to report the truth to the public, the mass media should uphold the ground of ethical principles to be a responsible news agency. In this  case, the ethical theory of community and care should be applied while reporting terrorist activities. As the IS aims at feeding the mass media for publicity, any mass media which decides to make this as a headline should consider several factors: first, will there be any possible harms on human relationship after broadcasting the news; second, if the public can find out the original footage from social media, is it necessary to play it again on the screen; third, whether the younger generation would mimic the acts of the terrorists will be another concern as they are unable to filter information like an adult does.

To be specific, if the US should be partly responsible for the emergence of terrorism, or the IS in particular, then the mainstream media should also be blamed for being not responsible for making news as they ‘helped’ the terrorist group to spread the message indirectly. Some may argue that the influence of mass media isn’t as influential as in the past due to the advancement of social media. Yet, the point being, given the advertisement market via broadcasting companies is still weighing over the online market, it is still valid to say that the mass media can shape the reality.

Apart from its excellence in managing social media, the operational model of the Islamic State is much more sustainable than the previous terrorist groups in the Middle East countries. The IS has manipulated the Mosul University in Iraq, thereby training more extremist young fighters to continue their kidnappings and beheadings for propaganda. Their massive destruction of cultural heritage on Syrian history is a sign of re-shaping the history in their controlled regions. Their acts of radically banning academic freedom and destroying evidence of human civilisation have showed that their group is well-planned to establish another emperor in the name of islamic religion.

In conclusion, the Islamic State isn’t a terrorist group that can be eliminated by neither military efforts nor diplomatic resolutions as it is an ideology extended from the flip side of the Internet. The idea of Internet facilitates collective intelligence, meaning people are much more powerful and democratised than ever. Regarding the current strategy of the IS, there are even videos about the establishment of Islamic State Health Service(ISHS), which aims at recruiting overseas doctors to provide medical services for the IS fellows. On one hand, the organizational structure of the IS makes no difference from a sovereign state, but on the other hand the group has a court system which interprets Sharia Law in a strict way that violates countless fundamental human rights. This mixed ideology does attract ten thousands of ‘freedom fighters’ and even doctors to work for them, so it is foreseeable that the Islamic State will be further expanded in an enormous scale. Although it is not feasible to eliminate the extremist group, the mass media should shoulder the mission to prevent the current situation from further exacerbating.

References:

  1. Al Arabiya News: ISIS axes gender mixing in Mosul universities

  2. The Local de: German motorcycle gang join Isis fight

  3. Lebanon Pulse: Lebanese army advances to secure boarder

  4. ABC: ISIS Trail of Terror

  5. UN News Centre: Urging international action, UNESCO chief condemns ISIL’s ‘cultural cleansing’ in Iraq

  6. The Economist: Where Islamic State gets its money

  7. The Economic Times: Islamic State: The money behind the monstrosity

  8. The Guardian: ‘It’s God’s gift.” Islamic State fills coffers with Iraqi government cash

  9. BBC: Islamic State Conflict

  10. CNN: How ISIS makes( and takes) money

  11. CNN: How ISIS controls life, from birth to foosball