China Sanctions 5 Taiwan Political Commentators for Criticizing CCP

China Sanctions 5 Taiwan Political Commentators for Criticizing CCP
Demonstrators attend a rally to show support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protests at Free Square in Taipei on June 13, 2020. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)
Mary Hong

In a press conference on May 15, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office warned of “disciplinary actions” against five Taiwanese political commentators and their families in Taiwan. One of the targeted individuals welcomed being sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), calling it a “lifelong honor.”

Chen Binhua, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office, singled out five prominent political talk show commentators—Huang Shicong, Lee Chenghao, Wang Yichuan, Yu Beichen, and Liu Baojie—alleging that they had “ignored the development and progress in China” and “spread false and negative information” about the Chinese economy. The specifics of the sanctions were not disclosed.

‘A Lifelong Honor’

Retired Maj. Gen. Yu Beichen, also a city councilor of Taoyuan in northern Taiwan, regarded the CCP sanction as a belated recognition spanning over four decades.

“At the age of 15, I joined the army and pledged to resist the CCP,” Mr. Yu told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times. “The CCP’s intelligence has been tardy in identifying me.”

He emphasized: “It’s a delayed honor, affirming that I am on the right path. My opposition to communism persists beyond my military service. This is a lifelong honor.”

Mr. Yu asserted that the targeted commentators had wielded influence among Chinese audiences, suggesting that the CCP’s action aimed to manipulate public opinion within China, particularly ahead of the inauguration of Taiwan’s incoming president, Lai Ching-te, on May 20.

Mr. Yu interpreted the move as the CCP’s reprisal following the defeat of pro-CCP parties in Taiwan’s presidential election.

Widespread Mockery of CCP’s Warning

According to Mr. Yu, China’s statements regarding the commentators had backfired.

“The CCP cannot suppress the aspirations for democracy and free expression in Taiwan,” he remarked. “Its actions have become a source of ridicule.”

Mr. Yu noted that numerous other pundits expressed dissatisfaction with Beijing’s failure to acknowledge their anti-communist stance and commitment to Taiwan. He remarked, “They believe they should also be on Beijing’s blacklist.

“This honor does not belong solely to us; it should be shared by all who love Taiwan and uphold freedom and democracy,” Mr. Yu emphasized.

Chen Shihmin, an associate professor at the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University, concurred that the disciplinary warning had backfired, portraying the CCP as a laughingstock in Taiwan.

“It’s evident that people in Taiwan view it as a badge of honor,” he told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Chen asserted that the CCP lacked authority in Taiwan and failed to recognize the differences in systems between Taiwan and China. “Taiwanese people are even less inclined to support reunification under CCP rule,” he added.

As the first individual named on the blacklist, Mr. Huang posted on his Facebook that being in Taiwan was a stroke of luck considering the repercussions of speaking truthfully about communist China. He urged Taiwanese citizens to cherish the freedom of expression prevailing in Taiwan in light of the incident.

Regarding the Taiwan Affairs Office’s motivations for issuing the disciplinary warning, Shen Mingshi, acting deputy chief executive officer at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research, suggested that various factions within the CCP sought to curry favor with Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping before Mr. Lai assumes office on May 20.

However, Mr. Shen opined that the Taiwan Affairs Office had targeted the wrong individuals. He believed that these commentators would only garner higher viewership as a result. “When mocking the CCP becomes the primary reason for increased viewership, the CCP must seriously reflect on its conduct and whether it has misjudged public opinion in Taiwan,” he told The Epoch Times.

“Now, senior officials at the Taiwan Affairs Office may be apprehensive about the repercussions of this incident,” he added.

In response, the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s counterpart to the Taiwan Affairs Office, stated that intimidation and threats against Taiwanese individuals and their families for expressing dissenting opinions “underscore Beijing’s lack of confidence in its own system and governance.”

Taiwan called on the CCP to respect Taiwan’s free and diverse society.

“Promoting cross-strait exchanges with a respectful and pragmatic approach is conducive to fostering positive interactions between the two sides,” the Mainland Affairs Council asserted.

Luo Ya contributed to this report.
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