Strategic Vision, Issue 44

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STRATEGIC VISION Volume 9, Issue 44


January, 2020

for Taiwan Security w

ISSN 2227-3646

ASEAN Responds to US Strategy Chung-young Chang

Digital Silk Road vs Indo-Pacific A.D. Gnanagurunathan

China Poaches Taiwan Allies David Scott

The Hong Kong Protests Protestors’ Evolving Demands Guang-chang Bian & Ahmad Rebhi Altamimi

Beijing Using ‘Three Warfares’ Strategy Shao-cheng Sun


for Taiwan Security

Volume 9, Issue 44


January, 2020

Contents Southeast Asian response to Indo-Pacific Strategy........................4

Chung-young Chang

China poaches Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.....................................10

David Scott

Digital Silk Road meets the Indo-Pacific...................................... 16

A.D. Gnanagurunathan

Demands and challenges for Hong Kong protestors....................22

Guang-chang Bian & Ahmad Rebhi Altamimi

China’s ‘Three Warfares’ in Hong Kong........................................30

Shao-cheng Sun

Submissions: Essays submitted for publication are not to exceed 2,000 words in length, and should conform to the following basic format for each 1200-1600 word essay: 1. Synopsis, 100-200 words; 2. Background description, 100-200 words; 3. Analysis, 800-1,000 words; 4. Policy Recommendations, 200-300 words. Book reviews should not exceed 1,200 words in length. Notes should be formatted as endnotes and should be kept to a minimum. Authors are encouraged to submit essays and reviews as attachments to emails; Microsoft Word documents are preferred. For questions of style and usage, writers should consult the Chicago Manual of Style. Authors of unsolicited manuscripts are encouraged to consult with the executive editor at before formal submission via email. The views expressed in the articles are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of their affiliate institutions or of Strategic Vision. Manuscripts are subject to copyediting, both mechanical and substantive, as required and according to editorial guidelines. No major alterations may be made by an author once the type has been set. Arrangements for reprints should be made with the editor. Cover photograph of the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protest on 1 July 2019 is courtesy of Studio Incendo.

Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Aaron Jensen

From The Editor


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s we return from the holiday season, the editors and staff of Strategic Vision would like to wish our readers well this new year. The Asia-Pacific continues to undergo important developments. We hope that students and scholars in the academic community have the chance to keep-up with these events. In support of that effort, we offer our latest issue of Strategic Vision. We open this issue with Dr. Chung-young Chang, a professor at Fo-Kuan University, who looks at how Southeast Asian countries have responded to the Indo-Pacific Strategy and how Taiwan must craft its own response. Next, the Indo-Pacific analyst for the NATO Defense College Foundation Dr. David Scott examines Beijing’s pursuit of Taiwan’s Pacific allies and the possible implications. Dr. A.D. Gnanagurunathan, a visiting scholar at National Taiwan University, follows this up with an examination of the competition between China’s Digital Silk Road and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. We then turn to the ongoing anti-authoritarian protests taking place in Hong Kong. Dr. Guang-chang Bian and Ahmad Rebhi Altamimi examine how the demands of the agitators in Hong Kong have evolved over time, and Dr. Shao-cheng Sun, an assistant professor at the Citadel, offers his take on China’s use of its “Three Warfares” doctrine against the protestors in Hong Kong. We hope you enjoy this issue, and look forward to bringing you the finest analysis and reporting on the issues of importance to security in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region.

Photographs used in this publication are used courtesy of the photographers, or through a creative commons license. All are attributed appropriately.

Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

Associate Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Guang-chang Bian, NDU Chung-young Chang, Fo-kuan U Richard Hu, NCCU Ming Lee, NCCU Raviprasad Narayanan, JNU Chris Roberts, U of Canberra Lipin Tien, NDU Hon-Min Yau, NDU Rui-lin Yu, NDU STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 9, Number 44, January, 2020, published under the auspices of the Center for Security Studies and National Defense University. All editorial correspondence should be mailed to the editor at STRATEGIC VISION, Center for Security Studies in Taiwan. No. 64, Wan Shou Road, Taipei City 11666, Taiwan, ROC.

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Strategic Vision vol. 9, no. 44 (January, 2020)

The ASEAN Outlook Southeast Asian countries offer mixed response to US Indo-Pacific Strategy Chung-young Chang

photo: US Department of State Leaders lock hands as they pose for a group photograph at the ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on 2 August, 2019.


lthough the US Department of Defense (DoD) released its official Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) Report on 1 June, 2019, the IPS began to take shape several years ago as a strategic concept and receive, if not echo, policy attention from its like-minded partners in the region, mainly Japan. US President Donald Trump proposed the Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy during his Asia tour in 2017 and reiterated this strategic security arrangement at the 2017 APEC Summit in Hanoi. In

Democracy” and to serve as a framework for strategic cooperation in the new Indo-Pacific region. It is also apparent that a similar or consistent line of strategic thinking and planning can be found in the IPS and US National Security Strategy of 2017, the National Defense Strategy of 2018, and several major policy statements and remarks. Just as the Indo-Pacific concept was first used—some might say invented—by the US Pacific Command in the 1970s to deal with the challenges posed by Soviet

addition, during the 2017 ASEAN Summit, US, Japan, Australia and India agreed to revitalize a ten-year-old “Quad-lateral Security Dialogue” or Quad, advocated by Japan and designed to establish an “Asian Arc of

expansion into the Indian Ocean when the United Kingdom withdrew from the east of the Suez in the late 1960s, today’s IPS has been developed as a grand geopolitical strategy to manage the changing security

Dr. Chung-young Chang is a professor at Fo-Guang University in Taiwan. He can be reached for comment at

ASEAN Outlook  b  5

landscape in Asia in general and a rising and powerful China in particular. In fact, the IPS that considers the Indo-Pacific area as the priority theater from the strategic perspective of the DoD, at least, may be viewed as an enhanced and action-oriented iteration of the Obama Administration’s vaunted Pivot (later Rebalancing) to Asia, which was aimed at containing the expansion of China’s influence in Asia in general and its militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea in particular.

Geopolitical strategy As a grand geopolitical strategy, the IPS is geared toward beefing up regional military preparedness through more defense buildup and alliance architecture. It is also aimed at constructing a network of allies and partners, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, France, Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, to form a coalition under the banner of

uniting for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The ultimate goal is to compete with and deter China’s growing power and influence through greater force posture and preparedness and better networked security architecture in the new security environment. How will southeast countries and ASEAN perceive and respond to this new development in the regional security landscape? Neither ASEAN nor any southeast country was invited to take a part in the Quad in 2007 when it was formed, or in the 2017 ASEAN Summit when it was revitalized: nor has ASEAN ever clearly expressed its policy stance when the concept of IPS was being introduced and marketed in the region. For this reason, it is an urgent task for ASEAN to enunciate a strategy with a unified voice to maintain the integrity of ASEAN centrality, or even just a relevant role, in regional affairs under pressure from both China and the United States in this new IndoPacific era. Therefore, as a response to the developments men-

photo: Christopher Veloicaza Royal Thai Navy sailors train as part of ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX) 2019, which included forces from all ten ASEAN member states.


tioned above, the 34th ASEAN Summit, held 23 June, 2019, in Bangkok, adopted as a theme the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). The fact that it took ASEAN, an inter-governmental organization well-noted for its slow decision-making process, less than 18 months to consent to adopt the Indonesialed AOIP indicated that ASEAN members may have been under great pressure to unite as one and reach consensus on a common strategy on dealing with pressing security challenges. Perhaps it is also evident that a divided ASEAN with more than one voice on the issue will be marginalized and cost it a central role in the unfolding regional security environment. It is true that the AOIP has not received full, enthusiastic support from all ASEAN members. Singapore has been quite sensitive to China’s negative reaction to the AOIP for the sake of its economic interests in the middle of the current Sino-US trade war. Malaysia was not very satisfied with the principle of inclusivity proposed in the AOIP due to concerns that if too

many countries are included, it may prove to be as hamstrung and ineffectual as the United Nations. Nevertheless, it has still been regarded as a policy guide and a unified stance for ASEAN and its member countries to manage the fallout of strategic competition between the United States and China.

“Indonesia took the initiative by formulating a strategy that doesn’t challenge or take sides with the policy objective of US IPS.“ An analysis of AOIP will shed light on how ASEAN countries plan to respond to the challenges posed by being in the midst of heightened US-China regional rivalry. First, as a country that straddles two oceans (the Pacific and Indian oceans) and that is struggling to become more than a middle power with greater influence in the land and sea of the region, Indonesia took the initiative by formulating a

photo: Justin Connaher Soldiers fire an M2 machine gun while conducting live-fire qualification at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

ASEAN Outlook  b  7

photo: Shealah Craighead President Donald Trump and poses with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi on 27 February, 2019.

strategy that doesn’t challenge or take sides with the policy objective of US IPS. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of dialogue and cooperation in settling disputes and pursuing sustainable development; in furthering regional connectivity to promote development and prosperity; in insisting on the principle of ASEAN centrality; and in highlighting the role of the existing ASEAN multilateral mechanism to build strategic trust and cooperation in the region. While the ASEAN’s AOIP adopts the concept of Indo-Pacific in defiance of China’s position, it does not single out any country as a threat; nor does it take sides with either China or the United States. It only stresses the principle of inclusivity and the importance of cooperation that will give ASEAN a more relevant and central role in the region. Secondly, while the US IPS advocates a free IndoPacific that stresses domestic political openness and good governance—stipulations that seem designed to exclude the current Chinese regime—the AOIP insists on the principle of inclusivity, which is defined

as one that holds no prejudice or hostility against any country, looking toward a region of development and prosperity for all. India also agreed to adopt the same policy position proposed in the AOIP: that of a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific for all. Moreover, while the AOIP invites all parties with common interests to undertake regional cooperation in a number of areas, the US IPS calls for allies and partners with shared values to form a networked, or even a like-minded, coalition to engage in regional strategic competition with the adversary.

Inclusivity and consensus-building In addition, as a leading power in the region, Indonesia may not welcome the idea of an exclusionary strategic security—much less military—coalition of the Quad without involvement of ASEAN, aiming at containing or confronting China. Developing an ASEAN-centered Indo-pacific strategy based on the principles of inclusivity and consensus-building,


photo: Nicole Mejia Vietnam hosts a welcoming ceremony for US Defense Secretary Mark Esper during his visit to Hanoi.

among others, will be more consistent with ASEAN’s political and diplomatic approach to managing regional issues, and it will be also in the best interests of ASEAN and Indonesia as well. As Japan, Australia, and France have taken sides and allied themselves with the United States, and as China has been offering economic and financial incentives to regional countries through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), how long the ASEAN countries (relatively weak in both military preparedness and economic development) can stand the pressures from both sides is an issue of great concern in the region. In fact, the strategic interests of land-based ASEAN members—Laos and Cambodia in particular—may differ greatly from those of the sea-based members that are far away from the shadow of a rising and expanding China. Moreover, those countries who

has chosen to avoid becoming entangled in the regional strategic competition between the two great powers. Spokesmen for the group have stressed the importance and necessity of its central role in the region, calling for the construction of an Indo-Pacific region of development and prosperity for all through dialogue and cooperation instead of rivalry. The idea of walking on a middle ground of peace and cooperation and maintaining a central role between two great powers deserve our attention and consideration. Unlike the aforementioned Pivot to Asia, Taiwan is included in the IPS, with the United States promising it will be “pursuing a strong partnership with Taiwan … as part of a broader commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific.” Under the framework of security alliances in the middle of the US-China trade war and strategic competition,

do not have sovereignty disputes with China regarding islands and marine sovereign rights in the South China Sea will be reluctant to defy China, especially in the light of decline of US influence and the rise of China in the region. In retrospect, under an Indonesian initiative of forging consensus within a short period of time, ASEAN

Taiwan will become further engaged in the recent US geopolitical strategic containment—and perhaps eventually, confrontation—of China. However, in light of China’s growing power and hostility against the island, Taiwan’s leaders would be well advised to welcome and support the implementation of the ISP. Looking into the future, especially after the fallout

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from Taiwan’s presidential election in January 2020, there should be a timely point of departure for a new policy on cross-strait relations. How to take advantage of Taiwan’s strategic importance in Southeast and East Asia, and its crucial position in the advanced telecommunication industry and both the regional and global supply chains, will be key factors for Taipei to leverage a bit of room to maneuver policy-wise between the United States and China. Taiwan has to work out a feasible option based on its own defense capabilities, economic strengths, sociopolitical consensus, and resilience, together with external support, to ensure its security and prosperity. History shows us that solely depending on the good will and support from outside powers, without paying the price of freedom in a culture’s own sweat and blood, is often just an open door to the demise of a country. As Indonesia began to assert itself in regional affairs by taking the lead in formulating the AOIP and advocating for more international maritime coopera-

tion in the South China Sea, Taiwan should actively echo this sentiment and support Indonesia’s initiatives by doubling its efforts in the New South-bound Policy, especially in the area of maritime cooperation. Taiwan should also seek more opportunities, perhaps with help from the United States, to work with Japan, which has already accumulated long-term political and economic investment in the region. This endeavor may be instrumental to enhancing Taiwan’s bargaining position in getting more involved in the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the NSP may have increased the number of Southeast Asian tourists to Taiwan, it almost failed to enhance Taiwan’s political connections or regional security with ASEAN and its member countries. Leaders in Taipei should act quickly, before the tide recedes: they should enact smarter policy and make better use of Tai-ping Island as a bargaining chip in international maritime cooperation. n

photo: Rawad Madanat US Navy sailors ride a rigid-hull inflatable from the destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) during AUMX 2019.

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Strategic Vision vol. 9, no. 44 (January, 2020)

Losing Allies

Beijing secures diplomatic beachheads in the Pacific at Taipei’s expense David Scott


utumn 2019 witnessed pressure brought to bear on the Republic of China (ROC) in the Pacific. On 16 September, the Solomon Islands ended its alliance with Taipei and officially recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Just four days later, the government of Kiribati followed suit. Elections in the Marshall Islands in late November witnessed the pro-Taiwan government of that country losing power to the opposition party. In a 16 September public response, ROC President Tsai Ing-wen, explained that the switch by the Solomon Islands was part of an ongoing strategy by Beijing to isolate the island internationally. “Over the past few years,” Tsai said, “China has continually used financial and political pressure to suppress Taiwan’s international space.” Tsai gave the Solomon Islands switch her sternest condemnation, “as not only a threat to Taiwan, but also a brazen challenge and detriment to international order. “I want to emphasize that Taiwan will not engage in dollar diplomacy with China in order to satisfy unreasonable demands,” she continued, warning the Solomon Islands that “China’s promises of financial assistance often come up empty.” In effect, this was also a warning about the debt dependen-

President Tsai’s made another public announcement on 20 September, stating that, “we truly regret the Kiribati government’s decision. The Kiribati government’s choice to leave the true friend they had in Taiwan to act as China’s pawn is a major mistake.” She gave the decision a domestic slant, arguing, “China has chosen this time to strike a series of blows against Taiwan because only slightly more than 100 days remain until our presidential election.”

cies that Beijing has been successful in creating elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific, especially as part of China’s vaunted Maritime Silk Road initiative. Case in point: Hambantota in Sri Lanka.

from Taipei to Beijing. The context for these Pacific switches was indeed Beijing’s resumption of the diplomatic tug-of-war over recognition, which it suspended so long as the

Chinese coercion “I must tell everyone that according to our current intelligence, China will continue to seek to suppress and coerce Taiwan in the months before the election.” The political consequences were clear in the PRC’s state-run media. A 20 September editorial by the communist mouthpiece The Global Times noted that “the more ‘allies’ Taiwan loses, the less space there will be for Taiwan in the international community to pretend to be a country.” September’s double blow to Taiwan’s international space followed on the heels of earlier losses suffered by the ROC government in Latin America and Africa, after Sao Tome & Principe, Panama, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador switched their diplomatic recognition

Dr. David Scott is a regular presenter on Indo-Pacific geopolitics at the NATO Defense College in Rome and a prolific writer. He can be reached at

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photo: East-West Center ROC President Tsai Ing-wen speaks to reporters at the East-West Center in Hawaii on the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act.

Kuomintang (KMT) party held executive power on the diplomatic island. Since the KMT notionally aspires to effect a unified China, a degree of economic convergence with Beijing was accomplished during the administration of former ROC President Ma Ying-jeou, best exemplified by the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in 2010. The return to power in May 2016 of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—a party that espouses a Taiwanese identity for the island nation—saw a reversal of the KMT policy of economic integration with China through a diversification of Taiwan’s economic interests, most notably by pursuing an IndoPacific pivot. This pivot has been channeled culturally through the reactivation of the Austronesian Forum; econom-

port for demonstrators in Hong Kong. Beijing’s increasing pressure on the former British colony makes Taipei all the more skeptical about the “one country, two systems” formula that China implemented in Hong Kong and has been trying to sell to the people of Taiwan. Tsai said, in relation to the Solomon Islands’ diplomatic switch, that, “by luring away our diplomatic allies and stepping up pressure on us across the board over the past few years, China has sought to damage the morale of the Taiwanese people and force Taiwan to accept ‘one country, two systems’.” Immediately afterward, on 20 September, concerning Kiribati’s switch of recognition, Tsai rejected Beijing’s attempt “to tell the people of Taiwan that we cannot support Hong Kong, and that we can only

ically through the New Southern Policy outreach to Southeast Asia, Australia and India; and geopolitically through strong support given to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) concept espoused by Japan and the United States. Relations between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated as Taipei continues to offer public words of sup-

choose a president who will bow to China.” “I want to firmly tell China that we have only three words to say in response to ‘one country, two systems’: not a chance,” the president affirmed. Beijing’s response to the switch by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati was of course jubilant. On 20 September, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng


Shuang reiterated Beijing’s oft-repeated position: “there is but one China in the world and the government of the PRC is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.” Gang added that “Pacific island countries including the Solomon Islands and Kiribati decided to recognize the one-China principle, sever diplomatic ties with the Taiwan authorities, and establish or re-establish diplomatic relationships with China,” which “fully shows that the one-China principle meets the shared aspiration of the people and is an irresistible trend of the times.” Taiwanese accusations of dollar diplomacy were denied by Geng, even as he went on to detail significantly “unprecedented development opportunities” for the Pacific island nations, as a benefit from their newfound relationship with Beijing. Politically, the switch of recognition from Taipei to Beijing by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, followed by the opposition party’s victory in the Marshall Islands elections, have an effect on Taiwan’s diplomat-

ic space, internationally and in the region. In terms of Pacific allies, only four remain: Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands. Consequently Taiwan’s ease of operations in the Austronesian Forum has been weakened to some extent, as has its links with the Pacific Islands Forum. There has been a delicate shift in emphasis under the DPP of stressing Taiwan’s identity as a Pacific island state, rather than as a Chinese one. However, the more fellow island states in the Pacific derecognize Taipei, the weaker this cultural and political conception of Taiwan as a Pacific oceanic country will become. Remaining Pacific Allies gave immediate support to Taiwan. Nauru’s President Lionel Aingimea, who took office in August 2019, said his country “has enjoyed a close relationship with Taiwan for almost four decades and he looks forward to it continuing well into the future,” adding, “Nauru considers its relationship with Taiwan as that of family, and we stand with Taiwan in upholding democratic values and the rule of law.” Similarly, Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe

photo: John Etheridge 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, landed in Palau to participate in Exercise from April 13-19, 2019.

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photo: Office of the President Taiwanese expatriates in Houston greet President Tsai Ing-wen with specially made banners during her transit on the way to Central America.

told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “the government is quite happy to continue our relationship with Taiwan. I don’t expect any changes.” Visiting Taiwan, Kofe told a Reuters interviewer on 21 November that “Tuvalu and Taiwan diplomatic ties are the strongest they’ve ever been,” and that alongside the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Nauru, “together with our partners, we will be able to counter the influence from mainland China.”

Principles and values Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the switches to Beijing by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau told reporters that his country had no plans to switch. “We are friends with Taiwan because our principles and values are similar, [as are] our aspirations for democracy and freedom,” Remengesau said. The Marshall Islands parliament passed a resolution confirming existing diplomatic ties with Taipei and expressing “profound appreciation to the people and government of Taiwan.” However, the parliamentary elections in November 2018 in the

Marshall Islands saw the pro-Taiwan government of President Heine lose its majority. Geopolitically, this shift by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati strengthened China’s position in the southern Pacific. What of Taiwan’s position in the western Pacific? Looking out from Taiwan across the Philippine Sea, Taiwan’s oceanic neighborhood, is the second island chain made up of Bonin Islands (administered by Japan), the Northern Marianas (US Commonwealth), Guam (US territory) and Palau. Westwards from the Northern Marianas lie the Marshall Islands, and to their west, the Hawaiian chain (US). Any switch by Palau and the Marshall Islands would severely circumscribe this friendly strategic avenue for Taiwan, surrounding the island nation with states that recognize Beijing. Unfortunately for Taiwan, its position vis-à-vis the Marshall Islands has also weakened. China’s push into the Pacific is only partly motivated by Beijing’s desire to squeeze Taiwan. It is also part of a wider strategy to extend the military projection power of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) farther into the Pacific. By flipping ROC allies, the PRC


photo: Pyoung K. Yi An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

benefits by potentially gaining access to deep-water ports and airstrips in the Pacific, as well as possible satellite monitoring stations. The former was in play with Beijing’s current proposals for the development of Rongelap atoll in the Marshall Islands, the latter in play during Kiribati’s earlier period of recognizing Beijing, from 1980-2003. Tacit concerns about China’s growing presence in the South Pacific have already generated policy announcements in 2019 of a “Pacific step-up” from Australia and a “Pacific Turn” by New Zealand. Australia and the United States have also moved towards joint cooperation in setting up naval facilities in Papua New Guinea at Manus, to forestall Chinese moves. Meanwhile, Tokyo has moved to buttress its own links through its Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting

Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau, and the first-ever trip by a Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) to Micronesia in August. The Global Times recognized the wider geopolitical consequences in a 16 September opinion piece titled “Abandoning Taiwan reflects a trend.” In it, the communist partyrun newspaper argued that the Solomon Island’s “shift from the island of Taiwan to Beijing will irritate some Americans,” who may interpret the change as “an expansion of China’s sphere of influence … refusing to recognize such natural consequences of China’s rise.”

mechanism, drawing together Japan and the Pacific basin island states, including the French possessions of New Caledonia and French Polynesia. The United States moved to shore up its own position with the Western Pacific islands in 2019, including US President Donald Trump’s historic May meeting in Washington with the presidents of the Marshall

ways. First, the cessation of Taiwanese assistance programs in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati will potentially free up some financial and human capital resources that Taipei could usefully apply elsewhere in the Pacific basin; or indeed elsewhere in Australasia, Southeast Asia, and Southern Asia, which is the geographic focus of Taiwan’s flagship New Southbound Policy.

Efforts may backfire Beijing’s success in peeling away the Solomon Islands and Kiribati from Taipei may yet backfire, in several

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Second, one unexpected consequence of these Pacific switches, in combination with the continuing turmoil in Hong Kong, has been to weaken support for unification within Taiwan, and to strengthen the already growing sense of Taiwanese identity. This is expressed politically as a boost in support for Tsai. Third, PRC successes in flipping small island states might be triggering wider regional support for Taiwan, especially from the United States. This seemed already indicated in the holding of the first Pacific Islands Dialogue in Taipei on 7 October, co-hosted by Taiwan (led by ROC Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu) and the United States (led by State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Sandra Oudkirk). The event also involved ambassadors from Taiwan’s remaining Pacific allies, as well as representatives from Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. While warning about China’s authoritarian expansionism, Wu called on sympathetic countries to “realize the value of Taiwan’s presence in the Pacific, and

push back strongly against China’s efforts to erode that presence,” pointing out that, “Taiwan, the US and other democratic actors share similar interests in ensuring that the Pacific remains free and open.” The US Senate unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act on 31 October, in order to discourage any further de-recognition of Taiwan. Fourth, if the PRC continues to cull the number of countries that recognize the ROC, and if Taipei finds itself with no allies, then that might lead to a fundamental reconsideration of whether Taiwan wishes to try and maintain this nominal claim. This may lead Taipei to then replace the unrecognized and increasingly anachronistic title of ROC by moving from de facto to de jure independence as a Republic of Taiwan. Of course, any such move would raise the stakes to the highest level and bring with it the specter of coercive forcible annexation by the PRC, and the severest of testing of America’s resolve to intervene to protect this struggling democratic ally. n

photo: Office of the President President Tsai Ing-wen welcomes Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to Taipei with full military honors on 26 September, 2017.

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Strategic Vision vol. 9, no. 44 (January, 2020)

Cyber Dominance China’s Digital Silk Road poses challenges for America’s Indo-Pacific strategy A.D. Gnanagurunathan

photo: David Perry


In an effort to support 5G development, the US DOD recently selected several sites to host 5G development projects.

oves and counter moves aren’t just part of a team’s strategy in sports, they are also part and parcel of international politics as well. Most sporting teams adhere to a playbook to a great extent when they devise their schemas for their games. So, states in their interaction with other states in the international system largely conform to time-tested strategies and agreed-upon norms. However, many times, winning strategies

gional allies and partners of the latter, is one such situation, where they are testing their strategies out of their respective playbooks. The United States has adopted its Indo-Pacific strategy to maintain and continue its dominance in the region. On the other hand, China is using its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to seek influence and gain pre-eminence. The two seem to be heading for a stalemate. At least, that would be the case were it not for China’s Digital Silk Road

involve pulling a rabbit out of a hat, be it for a game or in international politics. The ongoing playoffs between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States, along the re-

(DSR), which appears to be the aforementioned rabbit, as the world is hurtling toward a space where data will determine everything, and China is apparently leading the digital race due to its preponderance in

Dr. A.D. Gnanagurunathan is a MOFA visiting scholar at the Department of Political Science, College of Social Sciences, National Taiwan University. He can be reached at

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5G technology. Hence, it is important to understand the contents of the Indo-Pacific strategy and DSR and investigate how DSR fares as a strategy compared to the Indo-Pacific strategy. The first-ever Indo-Pacific Report: Preparedness, Partnerships and Promoting a Networked Region by the US Department of Defense was released on 1 June, 2019. The report boldly identifies China as a revisionist power in the international system. It identifies the Indo-Pacific as the most important region for America’s future, and emphasizes that its allies and partners share responsibility, while affirming its commitment to the region. The United States hopes to achieve its goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific by augmenting its capabilities, strengthening regional partnerships and coalitions, and improving existing alliances in the region. As a strategic document, the Indo-Pacific Report lacks novelty in addressing its foremost strategic challenger i.e., a rising China. It makes no conceptual departure from Obama’s Pivot to Asia, which was later rechristened the “rebalancing” strategy. Rather,

it is largely a reiteration of the 2017 National Security Strategy and the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Meanwhile, China intends to use DSR to elevate itself to an unassailable position where it can influence the setting of new global rules and norms by constructing communication networks across the developing world.

“Over 60 countries, which together account for two-thirds of the world’s population, have signed on or expressed an interest in BRI.” As a net oil and gas exporter, the United States has initiated ASIA EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) to grow a sustainable and secure energy market in the Indo-Pacific region. It languishes on the negotiating table, however. Therefore, the present US Indo-Pacific strategy is, to a great extent, a continuation of the previous strategic initiatives to counter China in the region, and remains unoriginal in terms of its approach and

photo: Participants pose at the second annual Belt and Road Forum (BRI) in Beijing. The BRi is closely related to China’s 5G expansion.


operational modality. China’s DSR was unveiled in March 2015 as an “Information Silk Road” in a White Paper published jointly by the PRC National Development and Reforms Commission, the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the PRC Ministry of Commerce. DSR was conceived as a subset of the ambitious BRI, announced in 2013 and to be completed in 2049. Over 60 countries, which together account for two-thirds of the world’s population, have signed on or expressed an interest in BRI. It aims to connect China with the continents of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas, through road, rail, energy pipelines, and sea. The China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are two important gateways linking China with Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Moreover, China has so far invested US$200 billion in the region as part of the BRI. A successful completion of the BRI would direct a significant amount of global trade and investment China’s way. The DSR involves a strengthening of the telecom

infrastructure, deepening space cooperation, developing common technology standards, and increasing the efficiency of policing systems among BRI countries. China’s trump card appears to be 5G technology, which is likely to propel the industrial revolution 4.0, as its star tech behemoth Huawei is leading the race with more than 36 percent of patents in 5G technology. Cloud computing, big data, the Internet

“Huawei’s American and European rivals like Cisco and Ericsson cannot match this pace of expansion due to low costs, early-arrival advantage, and comparable quality.“ of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI) riding on 5G technology will form the backbone of autonomous vehicles, facial recognition technology, and AI. Dominance in connectivity would allow China to harvest vast amounts of data, which in turn would enable it to exercise greater political influence and accrue economic benefits.

photo: The leaders of Russia, China, and Egypt, from left, before a roundtable discussion at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Cyber Dominance  b  19 graphic: Javedpk05 For example, the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE are engaged in building an information and communications technology infrastructure in Southeast Asia, laying submarine fiber optic cables, and Huawei Marine has engaged in more than a dozen submarine cable ventures in the region. One of China’s flagship digital projects is a 6,200 kilometer submarine cable connecting Pakistan with Djibouti, a joint venture between Huawei Technologies and Britain’s Global Marine Group. Despite their technological capabilities, however, Huawei’s American and European rivals like Cisco and Ericsson cannot match this pace of expansion due to low costs, early-arrival advantage, and comparable quality. The rapidly growing economies of Southeast Asia (SEA) are filled with 600 million young people, and it is one of the most digitized societies in the world. SEA’s Internet economy was valued at US$50 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach US$200 billion in 2025. Huawei has strategic partnerships with the major telecom companies in the region, especially in the populous countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It has already conducted 5G trials in Thailand. Meanwhile, Chinese mobile manufacturers Oppo, Huawei, and Vivo have collectively overtaken long-time market leader Samsung in the region. Such a vast telecommunication network will

facilitate the transfer of huge amounts of personal, government, and financial data to Beijing. Any control over the flow of data, digital infrastructure, and favorable Internet governance would have immense strategic implications. As a result, China may be able to achieve one of its most important objectives of influencing global rules and norms.

US efforts wanting In contrast, US efforts on this front are wanting. The United States, as part of the US-ASEAN Smart-Cities Partnership, announced in November 2018 a US$113 million investment pledge in technology, energy, and infrastructure projects in Asia, which pales in comparison to the huge Chinese investments in the digital infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region. Apart from laying fiber optic cables and establishing 5G networks, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and gaming company Tencent are making a big foray into e-commerce and e-pay investment in the region, and gaining ground by outcompeting US companies.


photo: Thomas Spangler US Air Force personnel integrate cyber operations during a Red Flag Exercise at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Such large-scale investments in physical and digital projects involving many countries can help China push its plan for the Yuan to supplant the US dollar as the go-to currency for transactions and investment. Moreover, the control of digital assets and transfer of financial data can significantly improve the circulation of the Yuan globally. The Cross-Border InterBank Payments System, or CIPS, is being promoted as an alternative to the US-led Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication System, or SWIFT. This will strengthen China’s hold over the global economic system and increase demand for its currency, the renminbi. In such a case, China would be able to dominate the global economy.

Infrastructure investments

it is estimated that China will spend about US$1.2 trillion over the next decade. Moreover, due the difficulties faced by less-developed and developing countries in procuring loans from multilateral development banks for infrastructure finance in terms of gaining approval and stringent conditions for implementation makes the easy loans provided by China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China Development Bank, and China Exim Bank all the more attractive, despite apprehensions about a possible debt trap. The administration of US President Donald Trump, which scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a course correction exercise to counter Chinese investment in the region, enacted the BUILD Act 2018 (Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development), with an investment portfolio of

According to an Asian Development Bank study released in 2017, the region will require infrastructure investments worth US$26.2 trillion by 2030. Of these, US$16.1 trillion for East Asia, US$6.3 trillion for South Asia, US$3.1 trillion for Southeast Asia, and US$46 billion for the Pacific is necessary. In addition,

US$60 billion to encourage private investments in infrastructure projects in the region, barely scratching the surface. The International Telecommunication Union facilitates governance of a range of communication technologies such as radio spectrums, planning of satellite orbits, networks, and fiber optic cables. Internet

Cyber Dominance  b  21

Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers manages the Internet Protocol addresses and domains. Yet, China argues for protecting state sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs, in order to promote “cyber sovereignty”. This fundamentally runs counter to the concept of free and accountable governance by localizing data storage, processing and transfer, and control over Internet content. Such an unfree cyberspace governance model appear attractive to many non-democratic and authoritarian governments in the less-developed and developing world. Furthermore, China counters criticisms of its ability to use its dominance in 5G networks to influence and coerce other states by pointing out that countries like the United States use the threat of sanctions to curtail American companies’ involvement with foreign entities or governments, which are legitimized by its domestic laws. Furthermore, the Edward Snowden

episode highlighted the surveillance programs run by the US National Security Agency and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance in association with telecommunication companies and European governments. Strategy is about making appropriate choices, choosing priorities, and redirecting resources to achieve one’s goals. The US Indo-Pacific strategy relies heavily on its institutional partnerships and military capabilities to sustain its dominance in the region, much as it has been doing since the end of the war. Moreover, its recent efforts to counter China in the region have been ineffective due to limited resource allocation and misplaced priorities. In contrast, China, in addition to augmenting its military power, has apportioned adequate material resources and prioritized ventures toward achieving its strategic objectives as it moves steadfastly to capture cyberspace, which is likely to determine the outcome of interaction among states in the near future. n

22  b

photo: Pakkin Leung Rallies in Hong Kong began by protesting the extradition law, but violent police actions have given young people new reasons to protest.

Strategic Vision vol. 9, no. 44 (January, 2020)

Locking Horns

No solution in sight for conflict between Hong Kong protestors and Beijing Ahmad Rebhi Altamimi & Guang-chang Bian


ince 15 March, 2019, frequent protests have occurred in the streets, at metro stations, at the international airport, and on the campuses of several well-known universities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). In addition to peaceful marching on the streets to demonstrate, violent actions have been taken by protesters, and

to the Hong Kong government’s proposed changes to the SAR’s extradition law. This amendment originated in the failure of the judicial system to adequately handle a murder case in Taiwan. The case involved a Hong Kong citizen that fled back to Hong Kong after allegedly murdering his girlfriend in Taiwan. Given that no mutual

consequently suppressed by armed Hong Kong police forces. These protests were initiated in response

extradition agreement exists, Hong Kong refused to extradite the suspect to Taiwan. The Hong Kong gov-

Ahmad Rebhi Altamimi is a police captain in the Jordanian military and a visiting student at the ROC National Defense University. Guang-chang Bian is a professor at the ROC National Defense University, he can be reached for comment at

Locking Horns  b  23

ernment, however, was aware of the problems with legitimacy that might occur should similar criminal cases arise in China and Macao. Namely, Hong Kong cannot extradite criminal suspects to these three areas without first enacting a well-crafted extradition law. Therefore, Hong Kong proposed the bill to address this gap in February of 2019. Although the government anticipated that the legislative amendment would provide justice, citizens rejected the bill, arguing that since it would legally compel them to extradite political dissidents to the authoritarian state, it was an inherently unjust law. In response, a group called the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) organized several initial protests. In addition to the CHRF, a considerable number of college students, as well as people from all walks of life, announced their opposition to the bill in May, and in the months that followed, the protests would grow in frequency and intensity and come to involve almost a quarter of the population of the former British colony. The movement was dubbed the anti-extradition bill movement.

The energy of the protests against the bill rapidly increased, reaching a crescendo on 9 June, 2019. Protesters insisted that the bill would weaken the autonomy of Hong Kong and oblige the government to hand over—to the communist regime in China— not only criminal suspects, but also persons wanted for political crimes. After a series of violent protests blocking the public transportation system and the Legislative Council (LegCo), police forces were dispatched to violently counter the protesters starting in June.

List of demands The protesters’ list of demands grew. In addition to withdrawal of the bill, demands included that the government, and the government-run media, alter their assignation of the movement as violent; that criminal charges against the protesters be dropped; that an investigation be launched into to the excessive use of force employed by police and security forces; and that Chief Executive Carrie Lam resign.

photo: Studio Incendo Anti-extradition protesters gather in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019.


The nature of the first three demands is seemingly reasonable and practical, to not only protect the human rights of the protesters but also to mitigate the suppressing strength from police forces. However, the last demand is highly political and personal. This demand directly challenges the leadership and prestige of the office of the chief executive and the influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Furthermore, on 1 July, the protesters amended the fifth demand: rather than calling for Ms Lam to resign, they demanded that a general election be held immediately to allow citizens to vote for a new chief executive and new legislators. Actively participating in the protests, a healthy portion of the citizenry as well as the intelligentsia echoed this call. Confrontations between police forces and protesters have been tremendously violent, and have resulted in considerable damage and injuries. In order to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement, on 4 October, Lam’s office used the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to issue a prohibition on face coverings.

By forbidding protestors from wearing masks to conceal their identities, the government could employ its extensive domestic surveillance network to identify individual protestors for subsequent home arrests. Rather than easing the situation, this move only intensified the anger of protesters and drew more international support to their cause. On 11 November, the protesters were organized to paralyze public transport systems during the morning rush hour, imposing an inconvenience on commuters. Hundreds of people were injured in the conflicts that ensued. Another wave of confrontations centered on the campuses of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, from 11 to 28 November. Lethal weapons were used by both sides in these confrontations, causing not only injuries but fatalities. Since universities are usually considered to be places where free speech is protected, the protesters and students on campus caught public attention and earned more international sympathy. This stalemate ended on 29 November, after the police siege of the

photo: Asia Society Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam delivers an address to the Asia Society in New York on June 9, 2016.

Locking Horns  b  25

photo: Koyuko Demonstrators in Taiwan march in Support of their counterparts in Hong Kong with a banner calling for the five demands to be met.

campus succeeded. The Hong Kong constitution is called the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and is commonly referred to as the Basic Law. The Hong Kong government is roughly divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches, ostensibly to provide a system of checks and balances and to prevent a concentration of power.

timetable for universal suffrage in the SAR. In the words of that decision, “election of the fifth chief executive of the HKSAR in 2017 may be implemented by the method of universal suffrage; that after the chief executive is selected by universal suffrage, the election of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR

“In agitating for democracy, protestors began to fly the flags of the United States and of the United Kingdom.”

Choosing a chief The Hong Kong chief executive is elected by a small number of representatives from different professional groups, representing such interests as commerce, banking, workers, religious groups, and members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The candidate that they choose is commissioned by the premier of China. On 29 December, 2007, at the 31st Session of the Standing Committee of the Tenth National People’s Congress, Beijing leaders set a decade-long

may be implemented by the method of electing all the members by universal suffrage.” However, LegCo reneged on that promise, and 2017 came and went, with Party leaders in Beijing still in charge of choosing Hong Kong’s boss. The current chief executive, Ms Lam, was appointed on 26 March, 2017, and she took office on 1 July of that year. This refusal to make good on promises of universal suffrage has been upsetting to Hongkongers, given that direct elections are a universal symbol of democracy.


photo: Brett Vannier An MV-22B Osprey drops off US Marines and members of the JGSDF for a heliborne insert.

This is an essential event fuelling the energy of protesters, given that general elections for both chief executive and legislators is the core political demand of the movement.

“[Chinese] measures proved ineffective, and on the contrary, only served to boost the morale of protesters and garner even stronger support from the international community.”

strong enough to do so. The judicial branch oversees both the executive and legislative branches insofar as it makes rulings on legislation. Judges are nominated by the executive branch and agreed to by LegCo. Compared to the council, the judicial branch is relatively independent and capable. For instance, on 18 November, the High Court of Hong Kong declared that the prohibition on face coverings was a violation of the Basic Law. This action speaks to the independence of the High Court.

LegCo members are divided into three groups, namely 35 general elected legislators, 30 legislators representing 28 professional fields, and five nominated by districts. Although there are three branches of government, in practice the chief executive is capable

Anticipated crackdown

of overruling the other two branches. For example, LegCo is incapable of proposing any bills on public budget spending, political systems, or administrative operations. It is also incapable of amending budget appropriations, but only has the power to reject or to accept the same. Therefore, two most important bodies for restraining the executive branch are not

formula for a 50-year period, it has resisting taking any heavy-handed actions to quell the Hong Kong protests. Many observers of the situation anticipated a crackdown reminiscent of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, but the CCP has, thus far, exercised restraint. Numerous announcements and warnings were made from various Beijing agencies, right up

Due to the fact that China was given sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao after promising to administer them both under a One-Country, Two-Systems

Locking Horns  b  27

to Premier Li Keqiang, to urge the protesters to terminate the movement. China verbally warned that protesters involved in violent activities would be punished, and hinted at a possible intervention by the People’s Liberation Army. In agitating for democracy, protestors began to fly the flags of the United States and of the United Kingdom, which Zhongnanhai interpreted as evidence of covert support from those countries. Beijing strictly condemned such external support, and responded by flexing its muscles through a massing of armed police in Shenzhen city, just across the Chinese border from Hong Kong. Several private Chinese companies also showed their support by postponing public stock offerings in the United States. However, these measures proved ineffective, and on the contrary, only served to boost the morale of protesters and garner even stronger support from the international community.

The United States initially believed that Hong Kong and Chinese leaders would be capable of dealing with the movement in a peaceful manner. US President Donald Trump urged the executive branch not to overreact, and asked that China deal with the protests peacefully. However, the worsening situation involving violence from both civilian protesters and police forces changed the attitude in Washington. The Department of State was concerned by the show of force in Shenzhen and urged China to ensure the autonomy of Hong Kong.

American support Not just the executive branch has expressed support for the protestors: the US Congress and Senate passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 that asks the US government to review and certify the autonomy of Hong Kong as a precondi-

photo: Studio Incendo Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters waving American flags to celebrate President Trump signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.


tion for trade negotiations between the two countries. Although the act is non-binding to the US government, its passage irked Chinese leaders, who accused Washington of intentionally exacerbating the situation in Hong Kong, to try and weaken China’s development.

“Instead of positively responding to their demands, however, PRC leaders simply restated their position: that the integrity of Chinese territory is unchallengeable.” In addition to the United States, officials from the United Kingdom, Japan, and Taiwan also urged China to respect the democracy, freedom and autonomy of Hong Kong. Conversely, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong took Beijing’s side, opining that the aim of the protestors’ five demands was to humiliate and overthrow the Hong Kong government, and did not contribute to solving current problems. The provocative atmosphere was mitigated by the

election for the representatives of district councils. There are 479 district representatives representing 18 districts in Hong Kong, and an election was held on 24 November. Although the district councils have no power in policymaking or budget auditing, the results indicated a change in the political winds, and was considered a referendum on support for the protestors’ demands. This election was also considered a vote of no confidence against Chief Executive Lam. The results show that the political attitude of Hong Kong citizens strongly favors the protesters. The prodemocracy camp supporting the general election won 388 positions, which is 81 percent of the total of 479 positions. The representatives of the pro-establishment camp, considered to be close to China, were reduced from 299 to 59 positions. Numerous young candidates were elected in many districts. This dramatic change of political attitudes worried Hong Kong authorities. Lam expressed her acceptance of the election results, however. In addition to urging stability, she claimed that an independent investigative committee might be formulated to objectively

photo: Studio Incendo Police fire tear gas at what would later become the Admiralty protest zone in late September, 2014, during the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong.

Locking Horns  b  29

photo: Studio Incendo Police retake the streets of Hong Kong using tear gas during the demonstrations against the extradition bill on 1 October, 2019.

review the causes of the movement, in an effort to solve potential problems in social, political and economic fields. The pro-democracy camp followed up their victory and asked the government to answer their five demands. Instead of positively responding to their demands, however, PRC leaders simply restated their position: that the integrity of Chinese territory is unchallengeable. The Hong Kong government immediately appealed in an attempt to reverse the court’s decision that the face-covering regulation had been unconstitutional. These reactions did not actually answer the calls from the winning parties, but spoke rather to ignorance and suppression. Therefore, after a few peaceful days, protests were once again held on 1 December, and violent confrontations between the protesters and police resumed. It is difficult to anticipate what the final result of this marathon protest movement will be, given that both sides appear to be firm in their determination. The

confidence of the pro-democracy camp and their supporters has been boosted by victory after victory, at least in terms of public relations, and this confidence might strengthen their determination. The pro-democracy camp has a great chance of winning even more LegCo positions in 2020. Although it can be ugly, the fight for freedom and democracy often demands that blood be spilled—this was seen in the 2011 Arab Spring movements. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that violent confrontations will continue in the future. It presents Taipei with a unique opportunity to observe the behavior of the United States and China as the government hedges between these two powers. The people of Taiwan have already shed blood in their own fight for democracy, and as Beijing attempts to entice them into China’s orbit by promising them a One-Country, Two-Systems deal, the current events unfolding in Hong Kong appear to be serving as an object lesson on whether they want to go back to how things used to be. n

30  b

Strategic Vision vol. 9, no. 44 (January, 2020)

Ominous Warnings China’s ‘Three Warfares’ approach in Hong Kong causes wariness in Taiwan Shao-cheng Sun

photo: Voice of America Protesters in New York City gather in Times Square to show their support to the protestors in Hong Kong.


hen the united Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, Hong Kong was guaranteed semi-autonomy until 2047 under the One-Country, Two-Systems agreement, but many residents believe that the Beijing regime has encroached on their rights. In response to the homi-

Chinese laws would hijack Hong Kong’s jurisdiction and weaken its autonomy. Since 31 March, 2019, millions of protesters have taken to the streets to express their anger against the bill. Some of the protests escalated into violent clashes with the police. Protestors have issued five demands: withdraw the bill, have the Chief Executive of Hong

cide of a couple while visiting Taiwan, the Hong Kong government proposed an extradition bill in February 2019 that would establish a mechanism for transfers of criminals to China. Residents expressed fears that

Kong, Carrie Lam, step down, create an inquiry into police brutality, release those arrested during the protests, and institute greater democratic freedoms. The ongoing violent protests have become the most

Dr. Shao-cheng Sun is an assistant professor at The Citadel specializing in China security, East Asian affairs, and cross-strait relations. He can be reached for comment at

Ominous Warnings  b  31

serious challenge to the Chinese leadership since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. On 9 July, Carrie Lam announced that the bill was dead. However, Hong Kong has continued to suffer serious turmoil by unceasing waves of college students’ protests. On 24 November, 2019, pro-democracy parties won 201 seats and pro-Beijing parties won only 28. The outcome of the election has shown a vivid illustration of voters’ anger with Beijing. Taipei and Washington have expressed their concern for violent confrontations between protestors and police in Hong Kong, but Beijing has regarded those concerns as an intervention in its domestic affairs. On October 15, 2019, the US House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, requiring the US government to impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for human rights abuses. Republic of China (ROC) President Tsai Ing-wen also expressed her concern about the situation in Hong Kong, emphasizing that Taiwan’s democracy had to

be protected. Tsai promised that she would never accede to the One-Country, Two-Systems scheme. In

“Chinese authorities pressured Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., to suspend its employees who participated in the anti-extradition protests.” response, the Chinese government blamed outside interference and voiced its firm support for the Hong Kong government forces.

Lessons for Taiwan Since the Chinese government has been trying to interest the Taiwanese electorate in unification under the One-Country, Two-Systems policy, the crackdown on Hong Kong and the abrogation of Beijing’s promises of 50 years of autonomy that led to the protests, serve as an important lesson to

photo: SCP-2000 Part of a Lennon Wall near Lok Fu MTR station. These demonstrations of encouragement and solidarity have sprung up throughout the region.


Taiwan. Policymakers in Taipei, as well as the averson to defend their homes against such protests. age Taiwanese voter, can learn important lessons by In addition, the protests were closely censored on watching carefully how China chooses to handle the Chinese social media. For example, keyword searches crisis in Hong Kong. of “Hong Kong” and “extradition bill” led to other, The Chinese Communist Party’s unrelated sites. Accounts that posted Central Military Commission introcontent and news about the protests duced “Three Warfares” strategy in were blocked. Many disinformation 2003, in the People’s Liberation Army campaigns have bombarded WeChat (PLA) Political Work Guidelines. The and Facebook. Images and videos of first type of warfare, public opinion protesters have been altered to make warfare, uses information delivered the pro-democracy activists look to a populace through news services, bad. Some attacks were coordinated Internet sites, and other social meby state-backed operations and have dia to influence their perspectives. been traced back to the Chinese govSecond, psychological warfare aternment. ROC President Tsai Ing-wen tempts to cause the enemy to divide Psychological warfare seeks to uninto factions with the intention of intimidating adverdermine an adversary’s combat power, resolve, and desaries until the PRC’s desired outcomes are achieved. cision-making, while exacerbating internal disputes to Third, legal warfare uses lawfare and other manipucause the enemy to divide into factions. The Chinese government has aroused fear to intimidate the pro“Hong Kongers have given China a testors. The PLA has distributed at least two videos failing grade on the implementation for psychological intimidation. The first video shows of One-Country, Two-Systems.” armed troops cracking down on protestors. Another video showed the People’s Armed Police conducting lations of the enemy’s legal system to constrain his an anti-riot drill in Shenzhen. The exercise attracted behavior. China’s response to the Hong Kong protests attention given the resemblance between the drill and includes all the elements of the Three Warfares. the clashes in adjacent Hong Kong. The Chinese government uses public opinion as a weapon by propagandizing through various forms First warning of media to weaken the adversary’s will to fight. The PRC Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the foreign meOn 6 October, the PLA issued a first warning to the dia in Beijing, requesting them to follow the PRC’s protesters, who were shining laser beams on the PLA position on the protests. China’s state-run media degarrison building in Hong Kong. The Chinese govpicts the protests as separatist riots and mobs, conernment attempted to intimidate protestors, telling demning them for their destruction of public and the Hong Kong government that if they can’t get private property, and attacking police. For example, things under control, Beijing will have to intervene. the People’s Daily commented that the savagery of In addition to military intimidation, Chinese authe rioters had transgressed the bottom line of huthorities pressured Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay man morality. Chinese mass media advocates that Pacific Airways Ltd., to suspend its employees who the silent majority in Hong Kong have every reaparticipated in the anti-extradition protests.

Ominous Warnings  b  33

Legal warfare uses all aspects of the law to secure legal superiority and to delegitimize an adversary. According to Article 14 of the Basic Law, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison shall not interfere in local affairs. Unless they are requested by the Hong Kong government, these troops cannot be deployed to maintain social order. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) under the PRC State Council expressed the PRC’s support for Ms Lam and urged the public to oppose the use of violence. When asked about the possibility of PLA intervention, HKMAO responded that the basis for such a deployment was in the Basic Law and Garrison Law. Under the One-Country, Two-Systems policy, the Chinese government views the police force as Hong Kong’s pillar of stability and shapes an image of upholding the rule of law to win over the majority of residents. Tian Feilong, associate professor at Beihang University’s Law School in Beijing, said the PRC was hopeful that Hong Kong could resolve the crisis by itself, adding that unless Hong Kong gets totally out of control, the PRC would not want to get involved.

The Chinese government has expressed its opposition to the protests, while utilizing the Three Warfares against the protests and their supporters. The PLA has increased military deployments near the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border to serve as a warning to pro-

“Tsai’s subsequent explosion in popularity confirmed that most residents in Taiwan support her position vis-à-vis the PRC.” testors. The Beijing regime is still reluctant to send the PLA to intervene in the conflict, considering the damage another Tiananmen Square Massacre could do its international image. The ongoing protests have alarmed many Taiwanese, who have witnessed Hong Kong freedoms decline since the 1997 handover. The Taiwanese fear that Hong Kong will be their future if they are forced to accept Beijing’s terms. As the Taiwanese watch with concern the suppres-

photo: Nicholas Huynh A helicopter carries ordnance between the USNS Carl Brashear, right, and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.


photo: Studio Incendo Protestors wearing masks and using umbrellas as shields square off against riot police at an anti-totalitarianism rally in Hong Kong.

sion of the Hong Kong demonstrators, President Tsai’s stance on China has become her biggest selling point. Before the Hong Kong protests erupted, Tsai still lagged challenger Han Kuo-yu of the opposition KMT by double digits in most opinion polls. Tsai’s subsequent explosion in popularity confirmed that most residents in Taiwan support her position visà-vis the PRC. A Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council poll released on October 24 showed that 69.4 percent of respondents said they feel an unfriendly attitude from China, while 54.6 percent said the Chinese government holds an unfriendly attitude toward Taiwan citizens. Over 70 percent supported the Taiwan government’s call for the Hong Kong government to respond to the demands for freedom and democracy

Systems is a Total Failure.” Hong Kongers have given China a failing grade on the implementation of OneCountry, Two-Systems. President Tsai issued a statement about the protests on her Twitter account saying, “As long as I am President, One-Country, TwoSystems will never be an option.” Multiple surveys have suggested that the vast majority of Taiwanese oppose the One-Country, Two-Systems proposal. For example, a Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council poll in October showed that almost 90 percent of respondents opposed it. Apparently, One-Country, Two-Systems would not work in Taiwan. Beijing will likely continue to push the Tsai’s administration to accept the so-called 1992 Consensus by increasing military coercion and poaching the few

from its people and promptly engage in dialogue. There is a rising anti-Chinese sentiment in Taiwan, among the youth in particular. The One-Country, Two-Systems framework was originally designed for Taiwan by Deng Xiaoping, but first applied to Hong Kong. Some Hong Kong protesters carried placards that read, “One-Country, Two-

remaining ROC diplomatic allies. At the same time, the majority of Taiwanese will continue to oppose the One-Country, Two-Systems policy. Unless policymakers and scholars come up with creative solutions for future bilateral engagements, relations between Taiwan and China will continue to be marked by friction and will not see improvement. n

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