China has history of 'observing' Taiwan National Day events: ex-diplomat

10/19/2020 06:34 PM
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A screenshot of the story published on Asia Pacific Report (source: asiapacificreport.nz)
A screenshot of the story published on Asia Pacific Report (source: asiapacificreport.nz)

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) The physical altercation caused when Chinese diplomats gatecrashed a National Day celebration at Taiwan's diplomatic mission in Fiji more than one week ago is only the latest example of Beijing attempting to disrupt or suppress Taiwan's international engagement, according to a retired foreign ministry official.

An article that was first featured by news blog Grubsheet on Sunday detailed an incident in which two Chinese embassy staff in Fiji arrived uninvited at the National Day reception hosted by the Taipei Trade Office on Oct. 8.

The Chinese diplomats "badly beat up" a member of staff at the Taipei office when the latter asked them to leave, according to the article.

Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Harry Tseng (曾厚仁) confirmed the incident at a legislative session in Taipei on Monday and condemned Beijing for the violence.

In a phone interview, a retired Taiwanese diplomat told CNA that this is by no means the first time officials from Chinese embassies have tried to observe Taiwan's National Day celebrations overseas.

Chinese diplomats in the Philippines were seen monitoring such events as long ago as the early 2000s, the source said.

"Chinese embassy staff usually sat near the entrance of the reception venue and noted the names of arriving guests," he said.

A few days later, guests who attended the reception would receive a letter from the Chinese embassy, questioning their appearance, citing the "One China" policy, he said.

In 2017, a high-level Philippine security official received such a letter after attending the National Day reception hosted by Taiwan's representative office in Manila, according to the source.

Some businessmen heed Beijing's warnings because they do business with China, he added.

Another retired Taiwanese diplomat told CNA that almost all Chinese embassies around the world monitor Taiwan's National Day celebrations.

"It is done by either directly sending embassy staff to the venue or asking members of the local Chinese community to take photos for them," he said.

"Most of the time they leave when approached by members of Taiwan's missions," he added.

Asked why the Fiji incident turned violent, the diplomat speculated that it could be due to the aggressive stance of the current Chinese administration and its so-called "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy.

Beijing has stepped up its efforts to suppress Taiwan's international space and visibility since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) assumed office in 2016.

Recently, the Chinese embassy in India wrote letters to media there, warning them not to publish stories or materials relating to Taiwan's National Day, according to multiple Indian media sources.

In another case, Taiwan withdrew from an international travel trade show held in China last September after the name of Pacific Asian Travel Association's (PATA) Taiwan chapter, PATA Chinese Taipei Chapter, was changed to Taiwan Strait Tourism Association on the PATA website without prior notification.

Also in September, Taiwan's largest bird conservation organization, the "Chinese Wild Bird Federation," was expelled from the UK-based BirdLife International for refusing to sign a document committing it to not promote Taiwan's independence from China.

The federation has since changed its English name to "Taiwan Wild Bird Federation."

(By Emerson Lim)

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