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Category Archives: AIM Extra

International Relations and War

International Relations and War

Globalisation as a continuum: Politico-power and preponderance

China incrementally began to embrace the ever-increasing and omnipresent advent of globalisation. The Deng era, as has been stipulated triggered a trajectory of progress however it is necessary to convey that as greater prosperity took hold, so too did its commitment to geo-politics—eventually, this would not augur well for Taiwan. It can be safely argued that China became a more emboldened actor in the international sphere post-1997—the retrocession of Hong Kong being a major and successful undertaking. This did not however, happen in isolation. To emphasise the point perhaps the most ardent aspect of change that China encountered and which definitively and inexorably changed its outlook toward its ‘place’ in the world and one which impacted on their domestic environment—essentially with the ‘knock-on’ effect alluded to intact—and of globalisation writ large was the 1999 bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by the US. Certainly, ‘after the 1999 Chinese embassy bombing incident in Belgrade, [which the was the outcome of US targeting[1]] Jiang Zemin, in certain pronouncements for the domestic audience, transformed the lesson of being humbled by the USA into a call for China’s further economic reform, strengthening China’s economic position in the world, embracing globalisation and catching up with the advanced countries.’[2] Thus, a single event signalled to China that it needed to completely reassess its role in the A-P region; and the international arena. Whilst it can also be argued the CCP’s newfound attitude was spurred on at this time by its success in the retrocession of Hong Kong, the consequence of the happening moved its determination to be regional- and global-actor to an elevated level. Within the formulaic of power-stakes there resides a greater understanding and reasoning of the PRC’s intent, and this will be dealt with later in this thesis. To wit, the problem for Taiwan is that China from this point on, China would begin to benefit from the phenomenon of globalisation and it would prompt the CCP through the aforementioned doctrines of economic, military, and nationalistic proclivities to intensify its irredentist demands; and stimulate its politico-intensity in general. Taiwan’s retrocession would now become a core component of the CCP’s demands.

Henceforth, Taiwan would have its political gains made from the 1950s though to the mid-1990s shifted to a more problematic platform, that of encountering a more focused, demanding and determined China—beginning circa-1995 and continuing to 2018 (and beyond). From an historical perspective it is well-known that Mao had always claimed Taiwan to be manifestly interconnected to China however, it is the pace of change that the impact of globalisation represents that is of interest here. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, China in its climb to new regional and international status and Taiwan having established and sustaining its independence polity would bring about new challenges. Globalisation would reinvigorate a strategy to the fore that had been a mainstay of the Cold War (1948 – 1989): ‘brinkmanship.’[3]

In addition to and emphasising the fundamental issue associated with the political repercussions of globalisation, the rapid unravelling of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War the (new) Russian Federation resulted in Taiwan having its previous status of pseudo-independence being rescinded in 1992.[4] The dyad of the rapidity of change combined with the Russian Federation completely embracing sovereignty even though it was still in a state of flux. The accepted sovereign statehood of China and its claims on Taiwan remained applicable and as globalisation took hold in a much more substantial and cognisant way and as a happening proved deeply troubling for Taiwan—and moreover both Cold War superpowers had withdrawn support. Globalisation and its repercussions would show that major actors would exert policies that were ever-more rigid in their politico and strategic-influences and as a result Taiwan and China would increase their attempts at influence.

To be sure, both Taiwan and China have sought to extend their influence through numerous aspects of globalisation. China it is fair to argue had managed to spread at an exponential level from the early twenty-first century. Nonetheless, Taiwan too sought to maintain its influence through the redundancy of independent politico-imagery and its associated dialogue. There has been and continues to be, within the power-paradigm that globalisation demands a triad of ways in which to exert influence. The triad consists of ‘soft power,’ economic (through utilitarian aid programmes), education, cultural and passive political support[5]; ‘hard power’ which consists of a deliberately focused military and the concomitant economic ties, which often entail an agreement of protection or direct support[6]; and ‘sharp power’ which extends to military ties (such as a host country allowing a military base to be built and operated by a foreign actor) and the subsequent economic ties that enable the power projection to be carried out—road-, port-access and overfly rights is to name only several. As part of the globalisation matrix, the types of power in order to extend influence may merge and overlap, although all have the propensity (and do) facilitate and improve preponderance capabilities. Taiwan has been able to access both soft and hard power, while China has been able to access all three. Within the structure of confirming or striving for superiority the elements of control alluded to are diminished if all three are not able to be accessed. What is of interest here is the application of sharp power. The extent of sharp power comprises but  is not limited to the enlargement of patrolling range through littoral or ocean-going/blue water assets; improving territorial access through infrastructure; continuing to establish zones-of-control; the availability of deterrent or blockading mechanisms; utilising threat-of-force through standoff actions; extend littoral zones through static territorial, air, and nautical placements; an increased ability to protect the homeland’s domestic environment through force dispersion; asset utilisation to test responses of other allied and non-allied actors; and where necessary apply direct kinetic applications—no-fly-zones and (the option for) invasion.[7] China is particularly adept at sharp power—as have previous imperial powers such as Britain, France, Russia and the US have been. The ongoing issue for Taiwan and its independence and it is fair to argue, is a problem made worse by the increasing globalisation of the world.

Due to the domestic, regional, international and cosmopolitan perspectives that have been summed up (albeit briefly), the relevant cross-Strait machinations—including the retrocession components of China’s ascendant irredentist attitudes and the ubiquitous independence stance and position of Taiwan, there is a need to observe the fulcrum of other issues. What can now be addressed is the geo-strategic, geo-political avenues that must be encountered and navigated through will comprise, though not be limited to the following: the necessary relevant chronological (historical) perspectives; present influencing factors, near-future outcomes; and forecasting. With this in mind and for the sake of clarity it must be assumed the CCP will be astute in its control of China and that its tenure as a ruling power will remain steadfast. From the perspective of Taiwan however, it must also be stated up front that it is a liberal-democracy and it must be acknowledged that like every democracy it is prone to the vagaries and impulses of voting blocs per se.[8] China does not have this problem and to give this context, whilst there are voting blocs within the NPC,[9] which affects policy outcomes and polity overall, it is a moot point and need not be entered into here, as it is these stark political difference that only needs mentioning.

In conclusion to the above structural underpinnings, the governments of both countries are aware of, and deal with numerous politico and strategic elements external to their domestic environments demanding issues of cross-Strait relations and the associated regional and political machinations. And whilst it may be the case that liberal democracies are definitively beholden to the vagaries of specific voting-blocs in the public sphere-of-influence—a point which will be drawn upon later in this thesis—Taiwan and China are nonetheless, committed to diplomatic suasion and the building of favourable polity to progress their specific needs; and advantage. To wit, the aforementioned falls in the realm of gaining politico and military-advantage regionally, internationally and indubitably, in competition to dominate cross-Strait relations. However, this has not always been the case and in order to balance the current state-of-affairs it is appropriate to reflect on less-confrontational times and observe there has existed more harmonious elements.

Continued tomorrow … War as it ‘is’

Previous instalment … Taiwan and China: The way it might have been


[1] Kyle Mizokami. ‘In 1999, America Destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade (And Many Chinese Think It Was on Purpose).’The National Interest.21 Jan, 2017.

[2] William Callahan Contingent States: Greater China and Transnational Relations.  Minnesota: Minnesota University Press, 2004, 52. Italics mine.

[3] According to Gochman brinkmanship becomes part of political manoeuvrings when, ‘decision makers perceive a dramatic impending shift in the balance of power in favour of an adversary and/or a substantial internal challenge to their own political position at home.’ See: The Process Of War. Advancing the Scientific Study of War. Edited by Stuart Bremer and Thomas Cusack. Australia: Gordon and Breach, 1995, 97. There are common features in what Calhoun describes as the ‘rhetoric of nations’ and though they do not completely define what a nation comprises they include but are not limited to, boundaries of territory, indivisibility, sovereignty, legitimacy, participation in collective affairs, direct membership, culture, temporal depth, common characteristics and special histories. See: Craig Calhoun. Nationalism. Buckingham: Open University Press, 1997, 4-5.

[4] Shaohua Hu. ‘Russia and Cross-Strait Relations.’ Department of Government and Politics, Wagner College, 5.

[5] ‘[S]oft power’ ‘arises from the attractiveness of a country’s values, political ideals, and policies. See: Joseph Nye. ‘Soft Power and European-American Economic Affairs.’ Hard Power, Soft Power and the Future of Transatlantic Relations. Edited by Thomas Ilgen. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2006, 26.

[6] ‘Hard power’ centres on military and economic power … .’ Hard Power, Soft Power and the Future of Transatlantic Relations, 26.

[7] Protecting a powerful actors’ domestic environment through the use-of-force is not new and is able to be observed in an article by Frankell: ‘U.S. Mulled Seizing Oil Fields In ’73. British Memo Cites Notion of Sending Airborne [Troops] to Mideast.’ The plan is also referred to as Dhahran Option Four, as articulated by Shenkman in Saudi Arabia’s Doomsday Plan, which states, ‘In 1973 the British were told by American Defense Secretary James Schlesinger that the United States might use force to maintain open access to the key oil fields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi. Two years later, in 1975, the Sunday Times of London published an account of a classified American plan, “Dhahran Option Four,” which provided for an American invasion to seize the oil wells of Saudi Arabia. In an interview with the media in 1975, Henry Kissinger publicly acknowledged that the United States might use force to free up oil supplies in the Middle East to save the West from strangulation.’ See: Rick Shenkman. ‘Saudi Arabia’s Doomsday Plan.’ See: Rick Shenkman. ‘Saudi Arabia’s Doomsday Plan.’ HistoryNewsNetwork, http//

[8] This concept of voting-blocs and the way in which a war encourages them is expanded upon in the heading under ‘Taiwan and the realities of a war with China’: A brief deliberation,’ 59.

[9] According to a fellow MOFA (2018) recipient and PhD candidate Gustavo Henrique Feddersen, voting-blocs within the NPC are able to be traced when applying an astute application to the way in which the CCP conducts its political acumen. Feddersen suggests and based on our discussions, there is much debate that continues in the private realm of the CCP and influence can be traced to provinces that a particular CCP member will be known to support and policies or policy input will reflect that influence. Regard for internal CCP informal coalitions, based on patron-protégé relations and upholding specific policy orientations, also contributes when inferring the origins and support for certain initiatives. Upon policy declaration being made however, all NPC members support the policy presented, which unlike in liberal-democracies there is much post-policy debate that happens. This does not accord with CCP principle and therefore, does not take place. This practice relates to the combination of Leninist “democratic centralism” and post-Deng era “collective leadership”. See: Cheng Li, Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2016); David M. Lampton, Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping (University of California Press, 2014); Joseph Fewsmith, The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (Cambridge University Press, 2013); Tony Saich, Governance and Politics of China, 3rd ed. (Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); and David Shambaugh, China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation (University of California Press, 2008).

Strobe Driver completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.


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Shifting the Centre of Gravity: Julian Assange Receives His Passport

In March 2008, one Michael Horvath of the US Army Counterintelligence Center within the Cyber Intelligence Assessments Branch considered the risks posed by WikiLeaks in a 32 page document. Created under the auspices of the Department of Defence’s Intelligence Analysis Program. The overview suggests, importantly, the interest shown in Assange by the defence wing of the United States at the time it was starting to make more than a generous ripple across the pond of information discourse. Importantly, it suggests a direct interest of the military industrial complex in the activities of a guerrilla (read radical transparency) group.

The question it asks remains a source of ongoing interest and curiosity about the role played by WikiLeaks in the information wars: “ – An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” The answer is implicit in the text: its all of the above.

The document remains salient for the persistent strategy adopted against WikiLeaks and its chief publishing head throughout. To avoid the integrity and credibility of the information, target the man, the organisation and the method. Suggest he is wonky, a crank, generally wobbly on principles and ethics. Suggest, as well, that his reputation is questionable, as are his moral inclinations.

The document highlights a feature that gained momentum in the 2016 US presidential elections: that WikiLeaks might serve “as an instrument of propaganda, and is a front organisation for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).” (The only difference in 2016 was that the CIA had fallen out of the orbit of paranoid reckoning, replaced by wily Russian operatives in the US imaginary of electoral manipulation). Not only had the organisation denied this, there was “no evidence” mustered “to support such assertions.”

The DoD document makes the objective clear; nothing else will suffice than a campaign ranging on various fronts to target WikiLeaks and its system of obtaining and releasing information. “The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current and former insiders, leakers or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy the center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Web site.”

The centre of gravity here is a critical point. It is one that is being persistently targeted, using Assange as convenient focal point of derangement, treachery and both. The memo from Ecuadorean officials from October last year was a laundry list for model good behaviour, effectively the conditions of his continued tenancy in the embassy, along with using the internet. Press outlets saw it as lunacy taking hold. He had to refrain from “interfering in the internal affairs of other states” and activities “that could prejudice Ecuador’s good relations with other states.” His pet cat also had to be looked after lest it be banished to an animal shelter. Sanitation was also noted.

Each granular detail of his fate garners international headlines in an ongoing battle of attrition. Will he step out? Will he seek medical treatment he urgently needs? What will the local constabulary do? Statements from the Metropolitan Police and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggest that he will be medically tended to but will also have to face the charge of violating his bail conditions when he entered the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012. Once that door opens, the narrow horizon to a US prison cell becomes a realistic prospect, even if it is bound to be a protracted matter.

The recent turn has also excited commentary, though it is not the same mould as the cudgel like recommendations of the 2008 DoD memo. The Australian dissident figure of the publishing world has been granted a passport by the Australian authorities. This was something, if only to suggest that those in Canberra, previously keen to see Assange given the roughing over, had warmed somewhat. In 2016, the then Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop had, at the very least, offered Assange what he was due: consular assistance.

While the grant took place either last September or October, confirmation of its existence was revealed in a Senate estimates hearing. Australian Senator Rex Patrick of the Centre Alliance pressed officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade whether they had engaged their US counterparts about possible safe passage for Assange in the event he left the embassy.

DFAT’s chief legal officer James Larsen claimed to have no knowledge of any US proceedings against Assange (untutored, mute and ill-informed is Larsen, on this subject); that being so, there was nothing to discuss. “We are not aware, on the Australian government’s side, of any legal proceedings initiated within, or by, the United States, concerning Assange.” Larsen had no “record before me of what our engagement with the United States is specifically concerning Mr Assange.”

What mattered were the remarks made by first assistance secretary of the Consular and Crisis Management Division. “Mr Assange,” Andrew Todd confirmed, “does have an Australian passport.” Some lifting of the dark had taken place, suggesting, as one of legal advisers, Greg Barnes, has been saying for some time: “The Australian government does have a role to play in the resolution of the Julian Assange case.”

A potential stumbling block for Assange in getting a passport was section 13 of the Australian Passports Act 2005. Facing a “serious foreign offence” within that section’s meaning would have scotched the application. “In order to progress your application,” DFAT informed him, “we require confirmation that section 13 is not enlivened by your circumstances. To this end, we ask that you provide us with confirmation that section 13 no longer applies to you. Until this time, your passport application will remain on hold.”

There is an element of dark farce to this. To show that he was eligible to receive a passport, he had to show that he did not face a serious foreign offence. But pieced evidence revealed thus far demonstrates that a US prosecution assisted by a range of security agencies has busied themselves with making sure he does face such an offence. Thankfully, WikiLeaks has not been able, in their quest for a totally transparent record, to find any relevant corroborating indictment, a point that seemed to seep through the Senate estimates hearings. In such cases, ignorance can remain, if not blissful, then useful.

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Trending Issues: Achievable Indigenous Reconciliation?

Election Year – More Political Traction for Indigenous Reconciliation?

As the slow momentum towards this year’s Australian national elections continues, there are still exciting opportunities for a deepening of reconciliation with the Australian Indigenous communities.

Labor’s Reconciliation Plan rekindles the Whitlamesque Spirit and will be a vital campaigning asset in marginal electorates across Northern Australia. After the It’s Time Campaign of 1972, Labor held every federal electorate in Northern Australia from Wide Bay to Kalgoorlie federal electorate with the sole exception of the Townsville-based seat of Herbert.

Labor’s Cathy O’Toole won the seat of Herbert in 2016 by the slenderest of margins after an exhausting exchange of preferences.

Victory in Herbert would not have been achieved without the mandate from the Indigenous voters of Palm Island. Palm Island Booth delivered 86.74 per cent of the votes after preferences to Cathy O’Toole which was the best Labor booth in Herbert. With a final buffer of just 37 votes after preferences in Herbert, the assistance of the Palm Island Booth was a vital asset for change:

Words of encouragement from Bill Shorten in support of Labor’s Reconciliation Plan give a Whitlamesque flare to current policy initiatives (Preface to Labor’s Vision for Reconciliation and Recognition 2018):

For Labor, reconciliation and recognition is about ensuring that First Nations People have the same rights, opportunities and outcomes as every other Australian.

These goals have eluded us as a nation for more than two centuries. It is time for that to change – and Labor wants to lead this change.

Reconciliation and recognition are about acknowledging – and celebrating – the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first inhabitants and custodians of Australia. We are home to the oldest surviving culture on earth. That is something that we can all take pride in.

Reconciliation and recognition are about acknowledging the truth of our history, the wrongs that have been committed against first peoples–and not shying away from our historical pain. Without truth, there can be no healing. Reconciliation is about building relationships, and about listening.

Above all, it is about taking action to tackle disadvantage and inequality. It is about introducing practical measures to close the gap in health, housing, education, employment and life expectancy.

The long anticipated 2019 Australian election will come close to the 52nd anniversary of the constitutional amendment from 27 May 1967. It was supported by 91 per cent of voters.

Having worked as a volunteer for Young Labor at Ipswich Town Hall on both that referendum day and the senate election on 25 November 1967, I always hoped for a smoother pace of structural change on Indigenous issues.

More considerate examination of the senate results beyond the local Oxley electorate showed that would have revealed Labor’s primary vote in Queensland had increased by just 1.4 per cent on the 1964 senate result. Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and West Australia were still bastions of neo-conservatism as the magic of Gough Whitlam’s leadership had only been operational since 8 February 1967 when he defeated Dr Jim Cairns in a caucus vote for the leadership vacancy after the retirement of Arthur Calwell.

Reconciliation Day in the ACT on 27 May 2019, is also ironically the 65th birthday of Senator Pauline Hanson who also represented the federal seat of Oxley for a single two-year term from 1996-98 before the formation of the new electorate of Blair to cover population growth in the Ipswich Region.

On issues relating to Indigenous reconciliation, Pauline Hanson drew inspiration for her stand against more government support for Indigenous Australians on cherished advice from that illusive adviser called Commonsense (20th Anniversary of Pauline Hanson’s Maiden Speech-SMH Online 15 September 2016):

On issues relating to Indigenous reconciliation, Pauline Hanson drew inspiration for her stand against more government support for Indigenous Australians on cherished advice from that illusive adviser called Commonsense:

My view on issues is based on commonsense, and my experience as a mother of four children, as a sole parent, and as a businesswoman running a fish and chip shop. I won the seat of Oxley largely on an issue that has resulted in me being called a racist. That issue related to my comment that Aboriginals received more benefits than non-Aboriginals.

We now have a situation where a type of reverse racism is applied to mainstream Australians by those who promote political correctness and those who control the various taxpayer funded ‘industries’ that flourish in our society servicing Aboriginals, multiculturalists and a host of other minority groups. In response to my call for equality for all Australians, the most noisy criticism came from the fat cats, bureaucrats and the do-gooders. They screamed the loudest because they stand to lose the most – their power, money and position, all funded by ordinary Australian taxpayers

Present governments are encouraging separatism in Australia by providing opportunities, land, moneys and facilities available only to Aboriginals. Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia. I do not believe that the colour of one’s skin determines whether you are disadvantaged.

This cautious spirit still permeates federal LNP policies relating to Indigenous reconciliation. Despite some positive rhetoric, Indigenous reconciliation is still largely at a Reconciliation Light Phase in the federal LNP’s political cosmology:

After rejecting calls to change the date of Australia Day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there could instead be another national day to celebrate Indigenous people and culture.

The PM floated the idea amid renewed debate over national celebrations being held on January 26, the date the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove.

Mr Morrison ruled out changing the date but suggested it would be good to “chat with the Australian people” about the concept of a new national day to recognise Australia’s Indigenous history.

“There’s a lot to celebrate … and I think we can celebrate the fact that this is the world’s oldest living culture,” he said.

While not nominating a date for the new day, Mr Morrison noted the ACT now holds a Reconciliation Day public holiday on May 28, which marks the anniversary of the successful 1967 Indigenous referendum.

“We don’t have to pull Australia Day down to actually recognise the achievements of Indigenous Australia, the oldest living culture in the world; the two can coexist,” Mr Morrison told Channel Seven.

With another 192 countries and eleven associated states of UNESCO, Australia supports the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.

At Triple J’s Laneway Festival in Brisbane on 29 January 2019, the contribution of Indigenous artist Danzal Baker as Baker Boy was acknowledged by the thronging crowd. Even the Australian Government through the Department of Communications and the Arts offered rhetorical support for Indigenous Reconciliation.

Reconciliation Light History policies have been developed by the federal LNP to patch over two centuries of piecemeal change but there are inconsistencies in the current approaches from the federal LNP.

Reconciliation Light Strategies for the Leichhardt Electorate in North Queensland

Prime Minister Morrison brought the reconciliation theme to Cooktown with local LNP member Warren Entsch in his marginal seat of Leichhardt. It extends from Cairns to the Torres Straits.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that preparations for the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing at Cooktown would offer new generations an insight into Captain Cook, the Endeavour and the experiences of Indigenous Australians:

As the 250th anniversary nears we want to help Australians better understand Captain Cook’s historic voyage and its legacy for exploration, science and reconciliation,” the Prime Minister said.

That voyage is the reason Australia is what it is today and it’s important we take the opportunity to reflect on it.

The Prime Minister assured everyone from Cooktown that the 250th Anniversary would promote the theme of reconciliation:

Warren and I have shared a passionate interest in these stories for a very, very long time and with the 250th anniversary of that historic voyage, it was a great opportunity to come here. I was particularly keen to come here before Australia Day this year, because in my own community back in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney, we have the annual meeting of two cultures ceremony on the 29th of April each year.

It’s an opportunity to understand this story from both the view from the shore and the view from the sea; to understand what took place and to build understanding and learning. But importantly it’s a ceremony that actually brings Australians together… That is what we take from history. That’s what we have an opportunity to do in a few days’ time. Not to walk away from our history, but to understand it, to embrace it, to recognise things that have happened both positively and otherwise.

It’s so great here in Cooktown to see that spirit of reconciliation, that spirit of understanding, that spirit of appreciation and respect to be played out. I really want to acknowledge the Waymburr People here. Not only because they helped a bloke out when he turned up here almost 250 years ago and got him back on his ship and on his way, but for the spirit in which they have kept that story alive amongst their own people and to hear it relayed to me today by local Indigenous people, it was incredibly special.

At the flag raising ceremony in Canberra on 26 January 2019, some elements of the old Foundation Day theme crept into Prime Minister Morrison’s speech:

The wonder of our country is that out of such hardship and cruelties would emerge a nation as decent, so fair and so prosperous as ours today.

That is what we celebrate.

While our beginnings were marked with the cruelties and dispossession of empire, they were also accompanied by the idealism of the enlightenment age. Australia was to be a great project.

Here in Queensland, the public execution site of Indigenous resistance leader Dundelli is highlighted by Associate Professor Dr Libby Connors at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba in several accredited sources including the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

Dundalli was tried before (Sir) Roger Therry at the Brisbane Circuit Court in November. In his Reminiscences (London, 1863), Therry described how the prisoner brazenly attempted to bribe him, for sixpence, and on another occasion offered to row the judge to Sydney if he would release him.

Dundalli was sentenced to death for the murders of Andrew Gregor and William Boller. The gallows were erected on the Queen Street footpath in front of Brisbane Gaol.

A crowd gathered to witness the execution on 5 January 1855 and the town constabulary, and a detachment of native police surrounded the gallows to prevent any attempt at escape or rescue.

As Dundalli mounted the scaffold he called out to a large number of indigenous people, who were gathered in the brushes that lined the Wickham Terrace hill, overlooking the scene, to avenge his death. They let out a loud cry when his body dropped.

Alexander Green, the executioner sent from Sydney, bungled the hanging. Dundalli’s feet fell upon his coffin, forcing Green to bend and drag on the hanged man’s long legs until he died.

In 2008, LNP Lord Mayor Campbell Newman authorised the re-location of a monument to Colonel Sir Thomas William Glasgow (1876-1955) at the Post Office Square site. This is adjacent to the site of Dundelli’s public hanging. There is no reference to Dundelli’s execution at the site.

A promotion for Libby Connor’s book is offered by Allen and Unwin Book Publishers and Booktopia:

The fascinating story of one of the great Aboriginal resistance fighters of the colonial frontier and a compelling portrait of life in early Brisbane.

‘Connors lays down the hard truth. Not all our warriors were Anzacs. Not all our wars were just.’ – John Birmingham, author and columnist

In the 1840s, white settlement in the north was under attack. European settlers were in awe of Aboriginal physical fitness and fighting prowess, and a series of deadly raids on homesteads made even the townspeople of Brisbane anxious.

Young warrior Dundalli was renowned for his size and strength, and his elders gave him the task of leading the resistance against the Europeans’ ever-increasing incursions on their traditional lands. Their response was embedded in Aboriginal law and Dundalli became one of their greatest lawmen. With his band of warriors, he had the settlers in thrall for twelve years, evading capture again and again, until he was finally arrested and publicly executed.

Warrior is the extraordinary story of one of Australia’s little-known heroes, one of many Aboriginal men to die protecting their country. It is also a fresh and compelling portrait of life in the early days of white settlement of Brisbane and south east Queensland.

This valued work could be a welcome addition to personal libraries and a gift welcomed by family members and friends. Its wisdom might be extended in the future to ANZAC Day pageants with respectful moments of silence for the thousands of indigenous people killed in Australia’s own Frontier Wars.

Old Symbols: Barriers to Indigenous Reconciliation?

Tolerance of the colonial perspective of Australian history is still embedded in earlier monuments which still stand in Brisbane.

Explorer John Oxley (1784-1828) is credited with the literal discovery of Brisbane in 1824 by the riverside monument. It was put in place around 1932. This was a time when conservative political elites sought closer ties with the British Empire during the troubled years of the Interwar Period.

After the fall of Singapore in May 1942, John Curtin insisted on withdrawing Australian troops from North Africa for the defence of Australia despite opposition from Winston Churchill. The attitude of Sir Thomas Glasgow to the strategic changes as our first High Commissioner in Canada could probably be assessed from the National Archives in Canberra.

In King George Square, monuments to British royalty tower over benign images of the occupation of Indigenous lands during the Frontier Wars.

Image: Petrie Tableau from Monument Australia (Russell Byers)

Progressive change in education about Indigenous culture will not come through the federal LNP’s funding models for public broadcasting and the increasing commercialisation of the electronic media. Expect more political blasts from talkback radio chieftains in the promotion of the federal LNP’s fear strategies relating progress towards Indigenous reconciliation. Radio 4BC in Brisbane was accidentally left out of the initial press release from Fairfax Media (Radio Today 26 July 2018):

Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media have announced a merger agreement this morning, in a deal worth an estimated $4 billion. The merger sees the formation of a merged entity, which will become Australia’s largest integrated media player, and has significant implications for radio with Fairfax being a majority shareholder of Macquarie Media.

Under the new merger, Macquarie Media’s radio network, including stations 2GB3AW and 6PR, as well as the newly rebranded will join a portfolio comprising Nine’s television network as well as a suite of large-scale brands in digital and publishing.

Popular talkback hosts from Macquarie Broadcasting retain an enduring faith in Howard era rhetoric on reconciliation:

Broadcaster Alan Jones has declared that Australia needs more stolen generations, saying that children brought up around alcohol abuse and drugs should be taken away from their parents.

The controversial 2GB breakfast host was discussing Saturday night’s Indigenous All Stars rugby league match with a talk-back caller on Monday morning when he launched into a speech about the stolen generation – the children of Indigenous descent who were removed from their parents.

At the match, held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the national anthem was first sung in an Indigenous language, before a minute’s silence was held to acknowledge the stolen generation, and the Indigenous All Stars players performed a war dance.

The 2GB listener, Dell, described the Indigenous commemorations at the start of the match as a “load of twaddle”, to Jones’ amusement.

Such shrill rhetoric is being trumped by mainstream and institutional support for reconciliation.

On a visit to the George Street office of the Queensland Government’s Q Super in George Street, I was impressed by the display of two acrylic canvases in support of Indigenous reconciliation by Robert Henderson, a Wiradjuri practicing artist in Brisbane.

Robert Henderson’s art work on the importance of balance between personal, community and universal space is still on display in the foyer at Q Super.

The artist offers words of optimistic wisdom to clients and staff at the Q Super office which offers some of the best performing retirement assets from public sector investment strategies with the added moral backing of a proactive Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This is summarised in a short video.

Explanatory Notes from Robert Henderson

The three circles the personal areas we all occupy. The Centre is the self, our values, our integrity, thoughts, intensions, endeavours, aspirations. Intellect, intuition and spirituality. The middle circle is country, family, community and business. The outer circle is the world community, the universe, our ancestors and creator spirit.

The paintings depict the importance of achieving balance across the three areas. In this practice, we are holistically healthy and dynamic. The two pieces the balance between positive and negative, light and dark aspects of the principle. Light and shadows coexist symbiotically.

Commitment to Indigenous reconciliation cannot be achieved by institutions which are fixated on aspects of just one circle of influence.

The federal LNP’s Reconciliation Light Strategies have a paler hue from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson:

Business groups say creating another public holiday could cost the Australian economy $3 billion after the prime minister suggested a special day to recognise Indigenous Australians. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said the potential cost in foregone economic activity of an extra day off work should be factored in.

“So consideration should be given to the possibility of replacing an existing public holiday so the total number of public holidays remains the same,” he told Fairfax Media.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for a new national day to celebrate Indigenous Australians, in an effort to sidestep the growing calls for Australia Day to be moved from January 26.

This concern about the financial costs of a National Indigenous Day needs to be balanced by a more humane assessment of the enormous costs of Indigenous incarceration and the over-representation of Indigenous people in the corrective criminal justice system:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men make up 27 per cent of the Australian prison population, costing the nation about $3.9 billion per year, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) said.

“Over-representation is both a persistent and growing problem — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates increased 41 per cent between 2006 and 2016.”

“There has to be a change because we just cannot continue to lock up the First Nations people at the rates at which we do,” Labor senator Pat Dodson said.

The year-long inquiry received 120 submissions and was informed by a committee of Australia’s pre-eminent Indigenous legal minds.

Criminal justice targets should be set by governments to reduce rate of incarceration, and rates of violence, the commission found.

The inquiry also recommends an independent justice reinvestment body be established to divert money away from the criminal justice system and into trials in local areas to drive down high rates of offending.

“Commonwealth, state and territory governments should support justice reinvestment trials initiated in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

The report said irregular employment, previous convictions for often low-level offending, and a lack of secure housing was disadvantaging some Indigenous people when they applied for bail.

But the inquiry found that magistrates and judges faced a shortage of community-based sentencing options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders and said state and territories should establish specialist Indigenous sentencing courts.

“These courts should incorporate individualised case management, wraparound services, and be culturally competent, culturally safe and culturally appropriate.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deserved to have greater confidence their police complaints would be investigated independently, the review said.

The costs of unnecessary incarceration of Indigenous people and legitimate refugees can be addressed as the myths fostered by Australian neoconservatives are finally put to rest.

Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is committed to citizens’ journalism by promoting discussion of topical issues from a critical structuralist perspective. Readers are encouraged to continue the discussions in this current series of Trending Issues for Australians in this election year.


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Taiwan and China: The way it might have been

Taiwan and China: The way it might have been

As alluded to in the above-mentioned, the issue of Taiwan as a wholly independent and therefore, separate entity to China has been fraught with tensions, missteps and overt antagonism. There is a need however, to compartmentalise the actions of both Taiwan and China in order to gain an insight into the way in which the Taiwanese government as a claimant of independence and as a political actor, has dealt with the issues-at-hand; and the CCP as a claimant, unification determinant and corresponding political actor, has dealt with their single issue-at-hand. It should be noted that the correlation of the ‘issues’ for Taiwan and the ‘issue’ for China comprises a deliberate dyad and therefore, is not an argument of semantics. The issues for Taiwan are complex interactions which involve but are not limited to, recognition by others, constant questioning regarding independence, UN associations being fluid; and a myriad of other politico-components. In contrast, China has an overriding single issue: reunification. Whilst it is not pertinent to comment on all of the later-twentieth century interactions as they are far too numerous in both intent and manoeuvrings there is nevertheless, a requirement to monitor the respective power-plays in order to observe the determination of the two actors.

During the late-1970s—before the reunification of Taiwan became more sclerotic on the part of the CCP—the NPC in 1981 announced and submitted A Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.[1] This was an offering to the government of Taiwan and it was designed to resolve tensions and whether the autonomous components of the message would have come to fruition for Taiwan is a moot point and need not be debated here. Within the manifest Taiwan was offered a high degree of autonomy upon its agreeing to be a part of the mainland and a dialogue did develop which eventuated in

[A] thaw in cross-[S]trait relations … which developed in mainly one-way unofficial economic relations: tens of thousands of Taiwanese businessmen went to invest in and trade with the mainland, but not the reverse, because of the ban by the Taiwan government on investment and goods from mainland China … the two sides also took steps to increase their overall contacts … on reunification. Taiwan also agreed to negotiate cross-[S]trait affairs involving what it called “common power” (gong quan li) … [through] the Strait Exchange Foundation … established in February 1991. Beijing accepted this informal arrangement and set up its own counterpart, the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), in the hopes that it would lead to reunification.[2]

The cross-Strait dialogue continued and whilst no resolution would take place, tensions eased and a conclusion-of-sorts in the form of an agreement was anticipated from the dialogue which would be a continuum. Ultimately, the dialogue failed and this would be due to the admission by President Lee Teng-hui whose tenure as president had encompassed 12 years (1988 – 2000) when in 1999 he ventured relations between mainland China and Taiwan were ‘between two countries (guojia), at least special relations between two countries … [and] there was no need to declare independence again since it (ROC) had always been an independent country since 1912.’[3]  The commentary that followed such a declaration revolved around what the statement meant and whilst the commentary needs no further analysis here, suffice to state that the intent Lee expressed reflected Taiwanese government policy. China reacted with the statement that the suggestion was a ‘dangerous step he has taken down the separatist road,’[4] and that China had ‘never renounced the use of force to prevent Taiwan’s independence, and warned Taiwan not to underestimate Beijing’s determination and capability to uphold the nation’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity.’[5]

Lee’s opinion presented a mandate to China and it is safe to argue that 1999 confirmed to the CCP that Taiwan intended to remain an independent country and no amount of political dialogue would result in an irenic politico-transfer of the country. The politico, regional, and geo-strategic-machinations had been set in place and from this point in time. To be sure, the peaceful retrocession of Hong Kong in place the CCP would launch threat-of-force and use-of-force monologues due to the ‘dangerous step’ that had been taken and under the pretext of ‘China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are indivisible.’[6] Whilst it would seem that 1999 was a cornerstone year in Taiwan retaining its stance and China establishing its pathway for the future, there is a long history to this moment in time that is relevant to mention. The relationship between the CCP government since the retreat of the KMT to Taiwan and the unification of the mainland under Mao Zedong (December 1949), has always been a contentious one. The recognition of Taiwan as a quasi-nation-state by the US—which had gained the status of superpower after the European and Pacific phases of WWII—caused the suspension of diplomatic relations by the CCP which in part, was due to the continuing unease between the two unequivocally opposed political ideologies: communism and liberal-democracy. The number of countries that have diplomatic ties with China are too numerous to list here, and it is suffice to state the world’s nation-state’s recognise China as a sovereign nation-state; and subsequently, the CCP as the legitimate government is a germane, yet necessary statement. It is the suzerainty of Taiwan that divides opinions in the diplomatic arena however, and not the sovereignty of China and this is what adds to A-P tensions. The CCP would continue the momentum of striving for recognition of being the legitimate government of all of China—the Middle Kingdom (Zhong Guo)—and it would continually advance this political state-of-affairs. The US would have its own issues with China and they would be exacerbated by Chinese support of North Vietnam in the Vietnam War.[7] The inherent tensions of the Vietnam War and the subsequent involvement of China beyond said acknowledgement need not be debated here suffice to state that the visit of (US) President Richard Nixon in 1972 would ease tensions and whilst the visit had many peripheral elements beyond statesmanship, it was nonetheless a significant step in the decreasing of overtly hostile US-China relations.[8] This step it can be argued would inevitably lead to a geo-political change in the US’ approach to Taiwan of unwavering explicit politico- and military-support, to a more fluid ‘wait and see’ approach. The Chinese Communists had gained much during their ‘long march’ (1934 – 1935),[9] and the subsequent establishment of Mao’s power over the following decade and this would include the total route of the Chinese Nationalists in 1949.[10] The visit by Nixon would prompt the beginning of incremental though ever-closer ties with the CCP.

Regardless of the domestic issues the CCP faced, there would be, throughout the years significant milestones for China with respect to gaining international status. After diplomatic ties were re-established (primarily with the US as per the above mentioned, although Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam would be the first Western leader to visit China), the pathway to full recognition of the CCP as the bona-fide and legal government of mainland China would slowly but surely, take hold. As China has grown in terms of diplomatic, economic, and military-power it has commensurately applied pressures within the A-P region; and in the broader international sphere; and in doing so and in particular since 1999, has progressively attempted to shut down Taiwan’s international dialogues. With the aforementioned in mind China has, in no uncertain terms, begun its rise and it is important to determine what the term ‘nascent’ encompasses, including in contemporary times globalisation, preponderance and war.

Continued tomorrow … International relations and war

Previous instalment … The dawn of pax-Sino: From cataclysms to cosmopolitanism


[1] The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC. ‘A Message to Compatriots in Taiwan. Beijing Review. 1, 22, Jan 1979, 17.

[2] Sheng Lijun. China and Taiwan. Cross-strait Relations Under Chen Shui-Bian.  London: Zed Books, 2002, 6 – 8.

[3] China and Taiwan. Cross-strait Relations Under Chen Shui-Bian, 11. Emphasis added.

[4] ‘Spokesman on Lee Teng-Hui’s separatist malice.’ Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America. 23 Oct, 2003.

[5] China and Taiwan. Cross-strait Relations Under Chen Shui-Bian, 13.

[6] Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America. 23 Oct, 2003.

[7] The Vietnam War is ‘known as the “American War” in Vietnam.’ See: British Broadcasting Corporation. Timeline: Vietnam.

[8] For a succinct analysis of the visit by President Nixon and the major as well as peripheral reasons alluded to, see: ‘Nixon arrives in China for Talks.

[9]  ‘Long March.’ Encyclopædia Britannica.


Strobe Driver – Strobe completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.


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The Showbiz of Conservation: PETA, Google and Steve Irwin

The world of conservation has thrown up various voices of tenacity.  There was Aldo Leopold, a vital figure behind establishing the first wilderness area of the United States when he convinced the Forest Service to protect some five hundred thousand acres of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.  There was Robert Marshall, the founder of The Wilderness Society. There was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), a solidly aimed blow at the use of DDT and its environmental effects.

Then there are the savvy showmen, the exploiters few short of a scruple, and manipulators keen on lining pockets.  The animal kingdom, for such types, is entertainment, much in the way that the automobile world is there for a figure such as Jeremy Clarkson.  Awareness of the existence of animals – their importance, their relevance – is drummed up by means of display and provocation. The more dangerous, in a sense, the better, for here, humankind can be shown to be jousting with crocodile, stingray and lion.  Humankind can return to savage roots, confronting other species in gladiatorial encounters with a film crew and an extensive promotion strategy. This is bullfighting, with a conservationist twist.

Such a figure was Steve Irwin, who made his way from Australia to the US, assisted by the solid contacts of his American wife Terri Raines, to build a name in the animal show business.  He became – and here the language is instructive – the self-styled Crocodile Hunter, audacious, brash and vulgar in his animal chase. He established Australia Zoo, which sports a vision of being “the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the entire world, and” (note the entertainment gong here) “there is no other zoo like Australia zoo!”  The emphasis here is also vital: zoos vary in history in terms of what they have done for conservation, turning species as much into museum species for spectacle as any act of preservation.

Irwin teased out the voyeur in the spectator: would he be added to the crocodile’s next meal?  Or, even more daringly, would he add his baby to it? Punters, take your pick, and wait for the outcome – you know you are in store for something grand and grisly.  

This assertion is not far-fetched; in 2004, the showman introduced his one-month-old son in what was promoted as “Bob’s Croc Feeding Debut” to a crocodile at feeding time, real fun for the family. While apologising for his actions in the face of strident protest, Irwin’s rather particular view on animal advertising came through.  He had, for one, been professional in keeping “a safe working distance with that crocodile when that took place”.  He would also have been “a bad parent if I didn’t teach my children to be crocodile savvy because they live here – they live in crocodile territory.”  Responsible, indeed.

His unique interpretation of safe working distance was again at play when he met his death on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas in the course of making an instalment in September 2006 for the series Ocean’s Deadliest.  The ingredients were all there: identifying a species that could kill rather than anything cuddly or cute; chasing a choice sample of that species; recording, for camera, its behaviour, using whatever means necessary. In the process, the barb of a stingray pierced his heart.  Marine biologists and zoologists make it clear that “they are not aggressive, reacting only when stepped on or improperly handled.”  The throngs of grieving supporters were revealing about how sapping the cult of celebrity can be.  Critics were few and far between.

One was fellow Australian, herself a superstar of sorts, Germaine Greer.  Greer reproached Irwin for not having “a healthy respect for stingrays, which are actually commoner, and bigger, in southern waters than they are near Port Douglas.”  Irwin never seemed to comprehend the vital fact “that animals need space.” No habitat was sacred to Irwin’s celebrity predations; creatures “he brandished at the camera” were distressed.  Left in such vulnerable situations, their options were limited: succumb or strike.

Irwin, whose birthday was commemorated by Google in one their “doodles” on Friday, did enough to drive the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to a state of sheer consternation.  Google described the doodle as a celebration of “the legendary Australian wildlife advocate & TV personality whose bravery & passion opened the eyes of millions to the wonders of wildlife.”  

PETA begged to differ.  Irwin, the organisation tweeted, “was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile and wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business.” The doodle sent “a dangerous, fawning message Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.”

The organisation also reiterated that Irwin was distinctly off message in terms of conservation.  “A real wildlife expert & someone who respects animals for the individuals they are leaves animals to their own business in their natural homes.”

This did not sit well in the Twittersphere and other social media outlets where outrage, not debate, characterise arguments.  Unsurprisingly, Irwin’s methods are irrelevant to the persona of challenging, sporting buffoon. He entertained, and did so well; that was what counted.  His cheer squad ranged across the fields of entertainment and sport, fitting given the same fold he came from. Baseball writer Dan Clark scolded PETA for not accepting the premise that Irwin had “saved the lives of countless of animals in his sanctuaries”, “loved animals and cared for them greatly.”  Love, and shoddy pedagogy are clearly variable things.

Irwin had even won over certain wildlife conservationists such as Anneka Svenska, who claimed on BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat that he “has inspired the next generation of conservationists.”  Even she had to admit that “now it wouldn’t be looked at as so good to touch the animals like he used to.”

The problem with the Irwin legacy is how consequences are divorced from actions.  Certain actions, be it the business model of display and torment, and the encouragement his actions supposedly did for conservationists and the cause, are blurred.  

PETA might be called out for some of its more shonky and inconsistent protests when it comes to the world of animal ethics, but in the scheme of things, their notes of protest were valid.  Irwin was, first and foremost, a man of business, a rumbling combination of yahoo, entrepreneur and Tarzan. That business might well have involved an element of conservation, but this was ancillary to the man, to his yob image, a person made wealthy on the fate and good deal of harassing, to use PETA’s term, deadly members of the animal kingdom. For that, he paid the ultimate price.

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The dawn of pax-Sino: From cataclysms to cosmopolitanism

The dawn of pax-Sino: From cataclysms to cosmopolitanism

As a country united under one rule due to the success of the Maoist communists, China would have its share of internal issues—as is the wont of every nation-state in a trajectory to independence—during and the post-Mao era. Within the aforementioned timeline dissenting political matters would disrupt a smooth transition of China becoming a prominent and established power. For all intent and purposes, some happenings would severely retard the ability of the CCP to grow the country and whilst the disputes are too numerous to mention suffice to state that the following domestic difficulties had to be surmounted by the CCP: the Hundred Flowers Campaign (1956),[1] the Gang of Four debacle (1965),[2] and more recently the Tiananmen Square incident (1989).[3] This is to name only several major events that created significant domestic turmoil and whilst the aforementioned events comprise a several decade-long process of happenstance it is important to mention China at this stage was a largely politically, economically, and militarily-isolated nation-state and therefore, the political machinations did not extend beyond its borders.

By the time of the last major disturbance—the Tiananmen Square incident—the demographic of China had changed considerably and subsequently, had evolved in all three of the above-mentioned categories. Although Chinese society was in a transitional state—from that of an agrarian to a more urban-centred society or at the very least, it was the nascent stages of this transformation. The rancour for change it can be safely argued, came from the educated middle-class students and whilst it was summarily crushed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the major underlying structural problem for the National People’s Congress (NPC)—the ruling body of the CCP— remained omnipresent: poverty. The major underlying issue for the CCP was a significant portion of the Chinese population had not been extricated from endemic poverty which denied a transition to a more dynamic and thus, successful nation-state. It was well understood within the upper-echelons of the NPC that China could not gain new ‘political ground’ domestically or internationally, while such a large portion of the population languished in said circumstance. Measures to temper the intractability of the problem however, were being considered by the CCP during the Deng Xiao Ping era (1978 – 1994) and regardless of the domestic upheavals new and different policies were implemented. These policies, it was hoped, would incrementally improve the outcome of the Chinese people and gradually shift their ingrained poverty-paradigm to one of prosperity overall; create financial independence for many Chinese; and develop prosperity overall.

Whilst the political suasions of the Deng era are far too numerous to mention here it is suffice to state that after the ‘disastrous excesses of the Cultural Revolution [of the Mao (1948 – 1976) era] Deng restored China to domestic stability and economic growth.’[4]  Deng envisaged a China that would be regionally and internationally cosmopolitan, stable, and he sought to do this through the mechanism of keeping ‘military spending low and concentrate on peaceful economic developments.’[5] Deng also embarked upon an international drive to bring China out of its self-imposed isolationism and domestically, would continue with reforms, gradually opening trading markets in the countryside, followed by the cities. He continued government planning and state enterprises, opened more markets as he felt the political situation permitted and opened doors to foreign study.[6] As the reforms progressed and the population became familiar with the new policies, Deng would evolve policies to being iconoclastic to the old ways, and more far reaching in terms overall prosperity. Deng’s policy of ‘One country, Two systems’ (1C2S)[7] was essentially, leveraged and then imposed upon the Chinese people by the NPC as a grand plan. This was done in order to bring about liberating and positive domestic change and it was summarily (and incrementally) applied to the populace. Ostensibly, the paradigm Deng introduced was one of the CCP releasing its ‘iron grip’ of direct-economic restrictions domestically and crucially, internationally. Whilst the ‘1C’ component of the plan was that communism as the sole political structure would remain omnipresent and unchanged part of the system of government; and governance. Communism as an ideology would remain and retain political control of the populace and there would be no deviation from this pre-set political norm. The ‘2S’ component would loosen the ties of economic strictures and create the possibility of genuine fiscal prosperity and commensurate with the fiscal structural change was the substitution of the classic CCP line of calling for ‘protracted class struggle,’[8] to one of implementing an efficiency programme: the ‘‘ ‘Four Modernisations’ of industry, agriculture, defence, and science and technology.”[9] This programme it is safe to argue would begin and then go on to produce rapid change in the subsequent months and years that a nation-state would require in its trajectory to prosperity. With 1C2S reforms in place the population would begin to develop in a way which had not previously been experienced.

From the mid-1990s the CCP began their structural changes in earnest, and the Chinese people began to experience a phenomenal macro-change in their fiscal, economic, technological, military, and cosmopolitan-footprint. The aforementioned changes implemented by Deng and his political allies—in particular, Zhou Enlai and Hua Guofeng—had swept in a new era for China. The significant changes had by the mid-1990s produced a deeper malaise by the CCP toward Taiwan. A more robust CCP’s vigorous retrocession of its lands that had been for many reasons usurped by others—‘Hong Kong (1997);[10] and Macao [Macau] (1999)’[11] would, it can be safely argued embolden its goals and aims. The retrocession of Hong Kong and Macau would drive a continuum that would initiate a new set of politico- and strategic-awareness’s; and generate new challenges in the region and internationally. Thus, it would shift Taiwan from being a static, rhetoric-based, historical claim which was previously a somewhat peripheral issue associated with Chinese ‘irredentism,’[12] to a central component of the CCP’s regional ambitions.

The above factors acknowledged, it is now appropriate to shift the focus of this thesis in order to understand what transpired in the world from the mid-1970s. A phenomenon began to gain momentum and it was one which had offered Taiwan prosperity, gave it power and triggered its initial trajectory of success—as it had others in the A-P. The phenomenon would persist and eventually offer China a newfound dynamic and allow it to become a robust regional and international actor; and allow it to reiterate its claims. The claims would encompass the Taiwan Strait[13] and would be backed by preponderance and more importantly through the process of the Deng era and the ongoing machinations of the post-Deng era the phenomenon would dictate the way in which preponderance was pursued and it can now be explored in order to consider future ramifications for Taiwan. The phenomenon would come to be known as ‘globalisation.’

Globalisation and its impacts and ramifications: A brief deliberation

Having positioned China and Taiwan as being robust countries—one being a legitimate nation-state and the other being a self-proclaimed independent country—there is a need to link the endeavours of both. The above-mentioned rapidity the heretofore never-experienced concept and reality, one that prompted a newfound determination by both belligerents: ‘globalisation.’[14] Taiwan has been through a high degree of industrialisation and mechanisation. It has a definitive military presence in terms of capabilities; of having been and continuously developing meaningful diplomatic positions and ties; and is able to uphold domestic governance which afforded the continuum of prosperity, cosmopolitanism and the mechanisms of positive diplomatic and societal implications. In simpler terms Taiwan has essentially excelled at being a prosperous, free market, liberal-democratic cosmopolitan country. China it is fair to argue, and as has been stipulated is the newcomer to the cosmopolitanism that Taiwan has been able to access since the 1970s. Notwithstanding the comparative ‘late start’ China remains a communist country, has a (fiscal) capitalist-driven domestic base, has exponentially extended its political and strategic stretch regionally and globally and has reinforced its irredentist policies. China’s proficiencies alluded to offer a perspective on government, governance and the corresponding forthrightness that evolved throughout the later-twentieth century; and remains as a continuum in the twenty-first century. It is here that another critical input into globalisation can now be given prominence and clarity: influence through power.

From the first late-twentieth to contemporary times a parallel can be drawn in terms of what globalisation will bring to the A-P region and the newfound ‘place’ Taiwan will hold as China rises and why Taiwan will be at the centre of actions within the A-P as globalisation increases. Whilst the critical time that will come for Taiwan will be specified in the ‘Conclusion’ chapter the important issue at this point is to clarify the role of globalisation and to understand politico- and preponderance-ramifications. As stipulated, and for many reasons Taiwan and its embracing of change coupled to globalisation triggered its prosperity as a technologically-developed country. To be sure, globalisation would be played out within the A-P by the ‘Asian tigers’[15]: Hong Kong: Singapore; South Korea; and Taiwan. It can be further argued that Taiwan entered the newfound era of non-Western dominance in the industrial sphere with the intent of domestic prosperity as well as utilising the geopolitical exposure to dislodge China’s irredentist claims. This paradigm would bode well for Taiwan as its GDP increased and its concomitant abilities to finance a strong defence force summarily improved, as did its regional, and international geo-political profiles.

Whilst the ‘Asian tigers’ represent a positive economic element for countries including Taiwan there is a need to observe the phenomenon of globalisation in action in a negative sense, in order for a balance to be comprehended; and to observe how the knock-on effects can create unforeseen problems. The reason for this is to bring to the fore that any developments of the already tenuous and fractious Taiwan – China relationship deteriorates further, a conflict will be fought in the A-P region although in a concomitant globalised media environment. The news press media and interventions such as television and in contemporary times, Google, Twitter and YouTube is to name only several platforms that are exemplars of rapid information dispersal. The attempt that is being made here is to recognise that from the latter-twentieth century, from geo-political and geo-strategic perspectives became so integrated into societies that cathartic awareness of events was created and they impacted on societies that were directly and indirectly involved. The twenty-first century will not be inoculated from this environment and the concomitant realities therein.

Notwithstanding the acknowledgement of information dispersal and its knock-on effect it is what happened to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in the late 1980s when the intermingling of globalisation; fighting in a long and burdensome conflict; and domestic politics came together is what is of interest here. As war with the Taliban evolved into a slog-of-attrition in which many Soviet troops were being killed and maimed and as the reports of the war filtered back to Soviet society by 1986 it began to have a major impact on domestic politics and became a unifying symbol for groups against rule from Moscow.[16] This state-of affairs and the Afghanistan war would be pivotal in the disintegration of the Soviet Union several years later.[17] The USSR essentially entered into a war of which the events impacted on it in a much more rapid and cataclysmic way than the world had experienced in previous times. Whilst this happened when globalisation was in its nascent phase it nonetheless, offers an example of the extremes associated with war in a globalised world, the iconoclastic components that are generated, and is a salient reminder of the costs of a war-of-attrition. The combined political domestic implications and transactions the war projected into the public sphere also showed what a persistent and focused enemy is able to absorb, and the political, strategic and tactical ramifications it generates. This is something that the CCP would be acutely aware of having watched the USSR disintegrate due to the mishandling of a war and why a war with Taiwan, handled ineptly could produce a downfall of the NPC. Whilst the phenomena existed in the later-twentieth century, it would be a continuum and effected international politics heretofore never experienced. The need to mention this phenomenon is attributed to the iconoclastic components within the happening and the fact that prior to the late-twentieth there had been no similar event that would generate such drastic change in countries, especially in such a chronologically short time—approximately 10 years from entering a war in Central Asia to the implosion of the USSR. Anecdotal information therefore, reflects the spread of globalisation—which had once been so beneficial for Taiwan—would begin to diminish its prospects as the ‘knock-on’ effects of the phenomenon came into play. China would embrace the opportunism that globalisation offered and whilst the implosion of the USSR reflected the cathartic elements of the phenomenon. China however, would not approach situations with the same modus operandi.

Continued tomorrow … Taiwan and China: The way it might have been

Previous instalment … Taiwan ROC: A forthright political and economic actor


[1] See: ‘Hundred Flowers Campaign.’ Encyclopædia Britannica …

[2] ‘Gang of Four.’ Encyclopædia Britannica.

[3] Adam Lusher. ‘At least 10,000 people died in the Tiananmen Square massacre, secret British cable from the time alleged.’ The  Independent. 23 Dec, 2017.

[4] ‘Deng Xiaoping. Chinese Leader.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. The Editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

[5] Ezra Vogel. ‘China under Deng Xiaoping’s Leadership.’ EastAsiaForum. 27 Sept, 2011.

[6] EastAsiaForum,

[7] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China.

[8] Katherine Keyser. ‘Three Chinese Leaders.  Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping.’ Asia for Educators. Columbia University, 2009.

[9]Three Chinese Leaders. Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping.’

[10] ‘Hong Kong’s handover: how the UK returned it to China.’ BBCNews.29 Jun, 2017.

[11] Shaocheng Tang. ‘EU’S Taiwan policy in the light of its China policy.’ Asia Europe Journal. Stuttgart: Springer-Verlag, 2003, 511.

[12] ‘Irredentism,’ or ‘irredentist policies’ comprise, ‘a party in any country advocating the acquisition of some region included in  another country by reason of cultural, historical, ethnic, racial, or other ties.’  See: ‘irredentism,’ Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition,. HarperCollins Publishers. 2018.

[13] The ‘Taiwan Strait’ has also been historically referred to as the ‘Formosa Strait,’ and comprises the body of water between Taiwan and Fujian Province, China, joining the East and South China seas; and is 161 kilometres wide. See: Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers. For ease of understanding this thesis will adhere to the common usage of ‘Taiwan Strait,’ and when dealing with political, economic. and strategic-determinants, will revert to the term ‘cross-Strait.’

[14] Whilst globalization as a concept does have numerous nuanced elements for the purpose of this study the following definition will apply: ‘[T]he inexorable integration of markets, nation-states, and technologies to a degree never witnessed before, in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before … the spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country in the world.‘ See: Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York: Picador, 1999, 7- 8. Emphasis added. And further to the aforementioned, ‘Globalisation describes a process by which national and regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through the global network of trade, communication, immigration and transportation. In the more recent past, globalisation was often primarily focused on the economic side of the world, such as trade, foreign direct investment and international capital flows, more recently the term has been expanded to include a broader range of area and activities such as culture, media, technology, socio-cultural, political and even biological factors, e.g. climate change. See: ‘Definition of Globalisation.’ Financial Times,

[15] For a concise examination of the ‘Asian Tigers’ see: ‘Asian Tigers’ Choices: An Overview.’ Hwee Chow. Asian Development Bank Institute. Aug, 2010.

[16] Rafael Reuveny and  Aseem Prakash. ‘The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union.’ Review of International Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 698.

[17] ‘The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union,’ 696.

Strobe Driver completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.


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A Letter to all Non-First Nation People

By Alexander Hayes

Remember the defunct Department of Native Welfare? Well it seems the Native Title Act 1993 has gone the same way, decidedly unethical, redundant and genocidal in enactment.

“…The system only accepts difference when its becomes sameness. There is an active will of the system to homogenise, so, for people who think that they are gaining equal rights they are not conscious that they are in fact being homogenised. As soon as people get to what it was they fought for, autonomy, they realise they are just part of the system anyway. e.g.. gay marriage, land councils, native title.” (McDuffie, M. (2018) Jimbin Kaboo Yimardoowarra Marninil: Listening to Nyikina Women’s Voices’).

Let’s examine the use of the term ‘native’ as aligned with Aboriginal dispossession and breaches of human rights. Likewise, the term ‘indigenous’ when in a contemporaneous context of Australia, many Traditional Custodians identify solely as Aboriginal, not using a vestige of the British Commonwealth as any more than an agent of archaic criminal servitude.

“…Aboriginal people are a diverse group of individuals and use of the term ‘Aborigine’ has negative connotations imposed during colonisation and can perpetuate prejudice and discrimination.” (

It would occur to anyone with a conscience, an informed and ethical position, that the very first form of oppression and the recurring dispossession that Aboriginal Traditional Custodians experience is enshrined in language. To be called something other than what First People’s use to identify themselves by is tantamount to genocide of the most violent order.

Let’s break that down, but before we do let me make it absolutely clear that I am NOT of Aboriginal descent. I was born on Dharawahl country in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, to parents who had travelled 22,000 kilometres only to find more Scottish alcoholics, toxic and yearning for a ‘home’ colonised in every direction, repeatedly by the south. As the Reader, I do not assume that you are a passive, consumption focused and neutral ‘entity’ that needs to ‘prove’ themself as the Australian Native Title presupposes legitimacy.

So, why should an Aboriginal person have to prove who they are when they already know who they are, who their people are and most importantly for those who have sadly been removed from their rightful Families, why should they identify by what a government declares they have to be? What a disgusting annihilation of humanity by wilful design.

“…These attempts to grapple with the effects of native title have, in part, been impelled by Indigenous people’s complaints about the Act and the native title process. Since the Act was passed, many Indigenous Australians have become increasingly unhappy with both the strength and forms of recognition afforded to traditional law and custom under the Act, as well as with the socially disruptive effects of the native title process.” (

Again, each and every human has the ethical capacity to transcend the apathetic moral mass and individually acknowledge that Aboriginal Australia people are not ‘owners’. That ‘ownership’, that ‘possession’ rhetoric is often refuted and rejected by many Aboriginal nations, especially those who have suffered successive roll-outs and rollbacks of Australian government platitudes.

Repeatedly I am reminded by Aboriginal Australian people that “… the land owns us and we are obliged to protect country, now and for future generations.” With that understanding, let us all reinforce that message in any communications we have with the legal fraternity as they continuously use wrongful and twisted language across Australia.

Therefore, I assert that ‘Native Title’ and its vile orchestrations of shifting ‘traditional custodians’ to using that of ‘traditional owners’, as being wrongful western capitalist vernacular, the very first and foremost beginnings of genocide.

Likewise, the very same ‘reframing’ of humans as mere servants of ‘placeless’ corporations, is as affronting as cultural extinguishment. Our individual and collective identity I am told by Aboriginal people is forged in our tie to country, to each other, not to a paradigm of mindless apathy. In that respect, we have always understood our cultural embodiment as first and foremost held in ourselves (oral transmission of tradition), then cultural artefacts and thirdly in our aspirations to profit from our knowledge (through paintings, writing, film, media etc), we leapt over the precipice only to experience the greedy malcontent of incorporation. In essence, the moment anyone starts speaking using institutional rhetoric (the institutionalisation of culture), wearing the corporate branded shirts and implementing ‘policy’ they became an enforcer of that abject oppression.

The second symbols of oppression I wish to reinforce as that of the habit, the frock, the crucifix and for those imbued with an abject rejection of catechism, the baptism. Children stolen from their parents, forced in into domicile enslavement, to scrub the shoes of the first oppressor as the single most perversion of epic proportion.

The sheer magnitude of evil brilliance to engineer an institutional box within which to ‘confess’ as a ‘sinner’ to an unseen form of lately exposed, statistically likely, paedophilia, as evidenced by the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia is nothing short of shocking. So now let’s return to how the term ‘native’ disembodied Aboriginal people of ‘title’, in itself a cipher of criminal activity. With both ears listening, this nation of nations, this land of incredible Aboriginal diversity, of language and the world’s oldest culture how could anyone knowingly carve their name into this country using’ ‘title’, ‘deed’ and ‘lease’?

Another symbol of such magnitude is the Akubra hat, seemingly innocuous as a utilitarian tool to protect one’s balding head, in itself a sensible way of protection from the sun’s rays. However, to willingly choose to place such a potent symbol with associations to the pastoral occupation of Australia, the second most recognised dispossession of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands, to place it on one’s head creates surely an almost surreal juxtaposition, yet, unwittingly some Aboriginal people cop the very same criticism they sought to escape by wearing it.

In the same context, it beggars belief that in order to prove ‘ownership’ a ‘landholder’ had to fence in their ‘allotment’ and maintain their ‘capital’…and so the use of language itself became the very surest way to enforce oppression, time immemorial.

To pit one nation, clan, mob against another as anthropologically facilitated ‘proof’ of tie to country is surely the third form of oppression in this discussion. To that degree, I also know of anthropologically facilitated genealogical collections that are locked to the very same non Aboriginal individual, effectively cutting off significantly important cultural information by means of legal statute.

“…AIATSIS commenced in 1961 with an interim Council. An Act of Parliament in 1964 established the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS), with a twenty-two member, primarily academic, Council and a foundation membership of 100.” (

It was an act of Parliament that created a museum, an institution in a fake city, to fill with cultural artefacts in collections which in some instances can only be accessed by anthropologists and other non-Aboriginal people.

Personally I have no time for those who hold forward their credentials as an anthropologist most especially those when asked to defend the very peoples they purport to ‘know’, claim ‘compromise’ if they reveal anything they have embodied. To live on a wage, contract or other annexure of a ‘land corporation’ or ‘council’ is simply and utterly unethical. To facilitate the force of ‘proof’ of identity is to perpetrate a crime of the highest magnitude when those who have traditional ties to country already have Law, allodial since Boogaragara. (Boogaragara; meaning ‘beginning’).

Anthropologists who feed on ‘native title’ will historically be considered, associated and forever reviled as evil as a frocked Jesuit ramming a religious right as wrong.

Commensurately, those who force genealogical ‘proof’ and falsely profit from the removal of Aboriginal Traditional Custodians from country will also most certainly burn in a hell of disembodied ‘other’ people as Sartre reminds us. Those with no tie to any Judaic vernacular will transcend this binary ‘native title’ as surely as anthropologists will become the ‘apologists’ damned eternally for want of a better solitary confinement.

Which brings the discussion to its lateral findings begging a better ‘solution’.

In listening, we are witnessing in 2018 the worst of genocide as individuals are denied their identity by being forced through those political hoops of Mormon genealogy. With whole communities forced at gunpoint off country, bulldozed 20 from their successive refuge, denied compensation at all (except for the ‘yes’ voting few) for possession to facilitate mining mayhem, we, as individuals each have a responsibility to act in a manner that rejects such abomination, such evil.

In his seminal letter to all Countrymen and First Nation Peoples, Ronald Roe, Walman Yawuru descendant, Goolarabooloo Elder, Broome, Western Australia states:

“…The purpose of this Milli Milli is of interest in that justice should prevail. 21 Let’s all stand united in protecting our beliefs.”

Native Title in Australia is considered by many senior Aboriginal Elders, Leaders and Law Bosses I have met face-to-face to be nothing more than a ‘legal’ cloak with which to ‘reframe’ and ‘key’ Aboriginal Australians into extinction, to frack its precious ground water, poison its country. Many examples of this rejection of Native Title is spoken, written and transmitted in visual forms by Leaders of First Nations people in a global context, Australia included.

By constantly shifting the goalposts, the Australian government, a seemingly one party fascist regime, continues to careen around drunk on its own stupidity. Countless examples of oppression of its peoples are enshrined in United Nations records of its treatment of refugees seeking shelter from its own complicitness in war, in its imprisonment of children in detention centres and now in the abhorrent treatment of its very own First Nation peoples (Hayes, A.(2016). Don Dale: We Are Each Responsible). In that regard, I am astounded by how many Aboriginal people continue identify using the term ‘apical’ which is historically (invented in 1820–30) in its own right an anthropological construct of colonising language based in a ‘western’ science, comprised of:

1820–30; < Latin apic – (stem of apex) apex + al

Colonial possession of this country is a stolen array of generations sick and malignant with viperous insidiousness. Automation of the technologically enhanced industrial cancer that sweeps and burrows this country, an artificially informed Uberveillance is now a sign of the end of the Anthropocene so the Singularity vipers would have us believe.

The fact is Aboriginal Australians will still and always remain Traditional Custodians, alive and woven into place, a spiritually rich landmass that will heal itself. Australian Native Title on the other hand is already defunct, redundant, evil by design and catastrophically perpetuating and inflicting the worst possible genocide evidenced when one mob, one or more clans smash the other into oblivion.

My position is clear, in that I encourage every individual to act in a peaceful resistance by expression as revolt, standing forward on this issue not succumb to an oppressive servitude. Some would say that those who have suffered under the enactment of Native Title as having been ‘hoodwinked’ and others might sardonically use a far more loaded term well established in colonial language, being that of ‘whitewashed’.

Yours in in utter contempt of this ‘Australian Native Title’, an obvious, unethical and government enforced act of genocide, since its inception.

Alexander Hayes, PhD

This article was originally published on Figshare.

Alexander Hayes has worked with and for many communities across Australia and New Zealand involving numeracy, literacy, life skills and creative arts practice projects over the last 25 years.

As a photographer, filmmaker, web developer, data scientist his work includes social justice programs with young people, online web development with communities and extensive public works programs involving NGO’s. As a researcher he has for over a decade been investigating the socio-ethical impact of wearable technologies in a number of domains including policing, law enforcement, education and training.

In 2016 Alexander was given the Aboriginal name ‘Malkay’ as testament to his own life lessons and to his continuing close relationship with the Nyikina community of the Kimberley region, Western Australia.

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Taiwan ROC: A forthright political and economic actor

Taiwan ROC: A forthright political and economic actor

Concomitant to all of the above-mentioned, successive Taiwanese governments steered the country toward an ongoing prosperity and this includes

Taiwan’s economy took off in the mid-1960s and grew rapidly in the following decades, causing Taiwan to become known as an “economic miracle.” Chiang and his team of economic planners, including Lee Kuo-ting (Li Guoding), got the credit, as they engineered growth from which everyone benefited.[1]

Economic growth therefore created a burgeoning middle-class—which is an aspect that will be dealt with in more detail in this thesis—in Taiwan, and this as well as  the trajectory alluded to, moved Taiwan ever-closer to being a democracy in the true sense of the term. These societal and economic elements are further emphasised thus

During the 1960s and 1970s, real GDP[[2]] grew about 10% [percent] (7% per capita) each year. Most of this growth can be explained by increases in factors of production. Savings rates began rising after the currency was stabilised and reached almost 30% by 1970. Meanwhile, primary education, in which 70% of Taiwanese children had participated under the Japanese, became universal, and students in higher education increased many-fold. Although recent research has emphasised the importance of factor growth in the Asian “miracle economies,” studies show that productivity also grew substantially in Taiwan.[3]

What the above emphasises is Taiwan, approximately three decades after its inception as a Western-centric nation and through the colonisation of the KMT it is able to be argued successfully implemented a domestic Industrial Revolution,[4] with the continuum of developing into a Technology Revolution[5] (1980s – ongoing). Both have contributed to allowing for ongoing economic growth to take place. It is relevant to observe that nation-states historically, have achieved success and status as per the Westphalian model alluded to when embarking upon successful industrial revolutions—the British during the Eighteenth Century, Western Europe during the nineteenth century, Japan after the Meiji Restoration through to 1945, and again 1970s – circa-1990s, and the US post-WWII is to name only several examples. When viewed through the prism of progress, what an industrial revolution effectively announces is a country is able to establish a more robust political and military presence in the world; and maintain a more forthright presence in terms of becoming a cosmopolitan, economic, military, and political actor. This would happen to Taiwan. In part it would be due to the conditions the above-mentioned had instilled in the population; and the focus of successive governments placed on establishing Taiwan as a more vigorous regional and international actor—separate and differentiated in status to mainland China.

Successive Taiwanese governments having sought to establish recognition through economic and aid-based programmes. In more precise terms, Taiwanese governments focused on the financial rewards their industrial- and hi-tech-revolutions had brought about, and using these platforms sought influence through these mechanisms. To be sure, this would prove successful with many regions—especially Micronesia, Oceania, the Central America and the South Americas—in gaining Taiwan’s acceptance and recognition as an independent country cum ‘nation-state,’ and moreover it would continue to raise its profile in the international arena per se.

The measure of progress for countries in general terms falls within the following tenets: stable government, prosperity through economic and social-well-being which encompasses lifespan and personal safety, environment, good governance, an ordered society and the rule-of-law. There are many other issues that comprise well-being however, and whilst the aforementioned are definitive though subjective signallers of a country’s overall success it is and remains a moot point of what order and whether other factors are of equal or of more importance. The intersection of these factors are at times, random rather than the implied linearity and moreover, beyond this acknowledgement do not require further debate here. The factors are however, exemplars and drivers of personal and societal attainment which help create further progress; and the concomitant germane loyalties it brings to a government is and remains implicit. The pivotal issue is centred upon what ‘developed’ represents and Taiwan has at its core the advent of an ‘industrial revolution,’ which is defined as the ‘rapid industrial growth … [and the] concentration of industry in large establishments’[6] and according to Western cum Eurocentric tenets an improvement in the wealth, lifestyle and well-being for the populace in general, is thus generated. Broadly speaking, this leads to the building and maintaining of infrastructure; a more robust domestic and international mercantilism; a higher educated population; a capable military; societal improvements; a more cosmopolitan society; stronger cultural ties; and crucially an enhanced ‘nationalism.’[7]

Within the above-mentioned paradigm and as has been stipulated, Taiwan began its economic ascent as it embraced industrialisation in the 1970s, followed by a technology (high-tech) revolution in the mid – late 1980s which has continued through to contemporary times. Both revolutions have allowed Taiwan to maintain its high economic status in the international community and gain the subsequent fiscal and societal benefits—a strong gross domestic product (GDP);[8] and a highly-educated population is to name only two elements of its progress. As Taiwan prospered, the requirement was to become cosmopolitan and extend influence—as is the wont of all countries seeking recognition—and it has accomplished this through numerous ties: political, educational, cultural, economic and military is to name only some. In order to contextualise the aforementioned ties it is however, necessary to briefly (and broadly) define the ‘type’ of power that is able to be accessed when a country has a strong and ongoing robust GDP; and the related value-added elements such as a strong fiscal- and monetary-base. Taiwan having gained the status of a robust and wealthy nation-state and having been able to establish close geo-political ties with other nation-states and which has been formulated and focused on one steadfast domestic issue: independence.

From the perspective of Taiwan, embarking upon the pathway of an insistence of independence strengthened a possibility that had been set in place since colonisation by the KMT circa-1945 – 1949. The outcome of this state-of-affairs is Taiwan since circa-1950 onward, has sought to extend its notable independent-status through to attempting to become a legal sovereign-state. Achieving this would dispense with any and all notions of its suzerainty to and of, mainland China.[9] To date, this has not succeeded due to the implementation of UN Resolution 2758 in 1971.[10] For the sake of clarity, this thesis rests on this understanding that its outcome will remain in place beyond 2018. Relevant to the aforementioned debate and pertinent to the argument, the necessity for a country to achieve legal nation-state status cannot be underestimated in terms of ongoing politico-development and the actions therein. The inherent advantages that a country immediately gains through UN recognition is inestimable and allows for immediate entry into the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and other legal and recognised forums of the UN per se. The debate around Taiwan’s status and its abilities acknowledged, it is nonetheless, important to address a criterion that affects, and will continue to affect Taiwan in the twenty-first century. The speed of change and the impact of change, which has differed from any previous centuries is what will become an omnipresent part of the political landscape for Taiwan, as it will for others. The aforementioned firmly in place it is also pertinent to introduce China and its politico, regional, geo-political and geo-strategic trajectory and the reconfiguration of its approach to Taiwan. Currently, it may best be described as ranging from rhetoric-driven to assertive preponderance. What is of most importance is the problems which this new approach throws up for Taiwan. First however, the trajectory of China must be mentioned.

Continued tomorrow … The dawn of pax-Sino: From cataclysms to cosmopolitanism

Previous instalment … China and Taiwan: an insolvable friction


[1] See: Taiwan. Self-governing island, Asia.’ Encyclopædia Britannica.

[2] GDP is discussed more fully on page 14.

[3] Kelly Olds. ‘The Economic History of Taiwan.’ Economic History Association.

[4] The term ‘Industrial Revolution’ from an historical perspective refers to the ‘totality of the changes in economic and social organisation that began about 1760 in England and later in other countries, characterised chiefly by the replacement of hand tools with power-driven machines, as the power loom and the steam engine, and  the concentration of industry in large establishments.’ See: Taiwan’s success would also be due to it during the 1950s-1960s having, ‘Rapid industrial development stimulated by export-oriented policy and US economic aid.’ See: ‘Taiwan profile – Timeline.’ BBC News. 9 Jan, 2018.

[5] For evidence of the continuum referred to in this study see: Lauly Li. ‘Hon Hai to invest NT$10 billion in AI.’ Taipei Times. 3 Feb, 2018, 1.

[6] See: ‘Industrial Revolution.’

[7] There are common features in what Calhoun describes as the ‘rhetoric of nations’ and within this construct nationalism is formed. Whilst nationalism is a multifaceted and complex issue some aspects of its makeup include: ‘… sovereignty, legitimacy, participation in collective affairs, direct membership, culture, temporal depth, common characteristics and special histories.’ See: Craig Calhoun. Nationalism. Buckingham: Open University Press, 1997, 4 -5. Expanding on this further is necessary at this point as it is a contentious issue at the time of writing for Taiwan as China seeks to ingratiate Taiwanese citizens living in China, and Taiwan seeks to confirm its uniqueness. To wit, ‘Nationalism can be defined as an ideology that demanding that an ethnic group or groups should establish and support their own state. Nationalism transforms an ethnic group or groups into a nation … Similarly a nation can be composed of different ethnic groups, given that these ethnic groups deem it necessary to establish, support or view a state as their own.’ And, ‘identity can be defined as ‘an actor’s experience of a category, tie, role, network, group or organisation, coupled with a public representation of that experience; the public experience often takes the form of a shared story or narrative.’ Charles Tilly. ‘Citizenship, Identity and Social History.’ Citizenship, Identity and Social History. Edited by Charles Tilly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 1 – 17.

[8] Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest quantitative measure of a nation’s total economic activity. More specifically, GDP represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation’s geographic borders over a specified period of time … The equation used to calculate GDP is as follows: GDP = Consumption + Government Expenditures + Investment + Exports – Imports. See:  ‘Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investing Answers Financial Dictionary.

[9] Whilst the actual number of debates Taiwan and its extended presence in the political sphere and with regard to the UN and China are far too many to be debated in this thesis. The international standing of Taiwan and its status is able to be summed up as, James Huang impugned the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon for his rejection of ‘president’ Chen Shui-bian’s application for Taiwan to be admitted to the United Nations … In 1971 the UN decided ‘to restore all rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China, the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek [Chen Shui-bian’s predecessor] from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organisations related to it.“ This [UN] resolution, 2758 resolved the issue of China’s legal representation in the UN once and for all.” See: Pan Hejun. ‘Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, an independent country.’ The Guardian, 7 Sep, 2007.

[10] ‘Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, an independent country.’ The Guardian, 7 Sep, 2007.

Strobe Driver completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.


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Judgement Day?

By Robert Stygall  

ScoMo and Peter were tragically killed in a helicopter crash, on their way to a party fund raiser – ironically hosted by Bronwyn.

They arrive at the Pearly Gates to be met by Saint Peter. He opens up the big black book at the appropriate page and reviews the entries. He tut tuts as he reads down the list, muttering aloud to himself as he scans the text, ‘ruthless leadership coup – oh dear’, ‘intimidation – oh my’, ‘Manus and Nauru – oh my goodness.’

ScoMo and Peter look sheepishly up at Saint Peter, nervously awaiting his decision. ‘It’s not good for either of you,’ he says finally.

ScoMo gasps; ‘you don’t mean Hell?’

‘It was close, but no’ says Saint Peter.

‘So it’s Heaven’ beams the less saintly Peter.

‘I’m afraid not,’ is the reply.

‘So what exactly do we get?

‘Purgatory,’ replies Saint Peter.

‘How does that work?’ Peter grunts.

‘Well it should be quite familiar to you, Peter. Think of it as indefinite detention.’

‘So how long will it last?’

‘Until Judgement Day.’

‘How long could that be?’

‘Could be many many years, who knows.’

So, with much wailing and crying ScoMo and Peter were transferred to Purgatory. The years passed and along the way they were joined by others they had worked with previously. Tony in particular was really annoying since he had arrived. He had never forgiven ScoMo for taking the job he felt was rightfully his. He almost died from shock when he was told he was not going to Heaven.

‘Speak to the Arch-Bishop, he’ll vouch for me,’ he had told Saint Peter with confidence.

‘Unfortunately he is incommunicado,’ replied Saint Peter.

Tony looked confused.

‘Subsequent to the findings of the Royal Commission, he’s in Hell’ said Saint Peter.

As time went by ScoMo was becoming increasingly worried about the mental state of Peter (the less saintly). The not knowing when the time in Purgatory would end was taking its toll. After almost a year of refused requests, ScoMo was eventually allowed to speak to Saint Peter.

‘I’m seriously worried about the health of Peter, he really needs to see a specialist.’

‘But there are plenty of medical staff in Purgatory’ said Saint Peter.

‘But you know how it is, Saint P, if they are there, they aren’t much good, many faked their medical qualifications, that’s why they are there.’

‘Well, ScoMo there may be a chance for Peter, despite the wishes of many in Heaven. Saint Kerryn of Phelps is proposing that those in Purgatory requiring medical attention can be transferred temporarily to Heaven for treatment.’

‘Hallelujah,’ cries ScoMo.

‘Not so fast ScoMo’ says Saint P, ‘there are those still trying to block that proposal on the grounds of security. Come back in a week and I’ll let you know the outcome.’

ScoMo returned the following week. ‘Bad news ScoMo’ says Saint P. ‘There are grave concerns that anyone who enters from Purgatory could find some lawyer in Heaven – yes remarkably there are a few here – who will prevent their return to Purgatory, and we would then open up Heaven to who knows what type of sinner.’

‘But all the rapists and murderers have gone straight to Hell’ says ScoMo.

‘Yes I know’ says Saint P ‘but you of all people know how it is, even the saintly are susceptible to fake news.’

‘So that’s it – no hope for Peter and the others’ sighs ScoMo.

‘Afraid not’ says Saint P.

‘So we just continue to wait, for who knows how long and hope for Judgement Day.’

‘Sorry – that’s how it is.’

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China and Taiwan: an insolvable friction

By Dr Strobe Driver  

The following is a geo-strategic assessment of Taiwan-China relations, the impact on the broader Asia-Pacific in general, actors who take part in the region, and what the future will bring in terms of when (not if) a war breaks out between the two main belligerents. This mini-thesis (in its entirety titled Asia-Pacific and Cross-Strait Machinations: Challenges for Taiwan in the Nascent Phase of Pax-Sino) is and remains predicated on the seemingly insolvable (and growing) frictions between the two actors; the irredentist elements of China’s foreign policy with regard to the retrocession (taking back) of Taiwan; and the way in which this will happen. Commensurate with this, a brief history of Taiwan and China and how the state-of-affairs got to where it ‘is’; the current interactions and what will happen in the future (should issues remain on the current path or worsen); the way in which China will engage Taiwan as its power ascends; the ‘type’ of war it will undertake in order to overthrow Taiwan; and crucially, when this will happen as an evidence-based forecast is offered.

For ease-of-reading the thesis is written in a narrative-style rather than a purely academic-style. It is designed for readers’ who are interested in International Relations/Asia-Pacific as well as others that have a high-level of understanding in the field. It, therefore, does rely heavily on cited explanations (through footnoting), and interpretation from the indications is developed further where necessary. Any comments and/or critique is welcome. Happy reading. Strobe.


In contemporary times Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC)[1] is a robust independent country of approximately 23 million people, which comprise a mix of Taiwanese, Chinese, and Indigenous peoples—estimated at 2018 to comprise 23.69 million people.[2] The voting schematic comprises a liberal-democratic, one-person, one-vote method of political representation. Voting in Taiwan is compulsory; and all citizens over 20 years of age must vote in an election, although there is no facility for an absentee-vote. Taiwan is an island nation and its geographic location 25°03’N latitude and 121°30’W longitude.

Like many island nations, Taiwan has historically experienced visitations from sea-faring peoples, and therefore varying degrees of colonisation and influences from cultures has taken place—the Dutch, Japanese and (mainland) China, is to name only several cultures that have impacted on Taiwan.[3] For the purposes of clarity and for relevance, this study will only encompass the defeat of the Chinese Nationalist—the Kuomintang (KMT) and the ructions that its exit to Taiwan caused in terms of, in the first instance the establishment of a government separate to mainland China; and the continuum of government, governance and thus, independence this has produced. Upon the brief establishment of what transpired as the power of the KMT took hold, this thesis will advance beyond the aforementioned disturbances. It will firmly be ensconced in the late twentieth and twenty-first century issues that have come to the fore in the process of what is now termed the ‘rise of China’; the political, regional, and geo-strategic-machinations that exist. Including where necessary applicable references to other influences such as the Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, United States of America (US), and numerous other countries that manoeuvre within the power-stakes of the region; draw together the dynamics of what is happening as interstate and international relationships evolve or stagnate; and offer an analysis within the realm of the nascent stage of these machinations. The overarching construct will fall within the framework and understanding that the ‘rise of China’—and the concomitant ‘era of pax-Sino’[4]—has begun, albeit in its nascent phase, is what underpins the following analyses.

Taiwan: Independent and prosperous

In order to establish that Taiwan has had a vibrant economic base and with the above-mentioned in mind, the island needs to be focused upon in order to give it context and to posit it in contemporary times. Taiwan (and the P’eng-hu Islands), was ceded to Japan due to the upheavals associated with the Treaty of Shimonoseki[5] which was developed and instated when Japan won the conflict over China, and included Japan’s ongoing hostilities associated with Korea. The political position the populace of Taiwan contained within this paradigm is a moot point and need not be debated here, as what is of interest is the process the populace went through in order to become the society it is in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries.

With regard to Japan ruling the island there were advantages and disadvantages for its peoples and this is summed up

Japan ruled Taiwan strictly, using harsh punishment to enforce the law. Tokyo, initially at least, showed no interest in making Taiwan a democracy. Moreover, in governing Taiwan, Japan experienced a dilemma over whether to make the colony part of Japan or to allow it to be administratively separate and to some degree self-governing. Ultimately, Tokyo resisted assimilating Taiwan, although it did force the population there to learn Japanese and absorb Japanese culture. That strategy had advantages for the people of Taiwan, as it gained for them access to science and technology, but such advantages came at the cost of suppressing local culture and the Chinese language.[6]

Taiwan would continue under Japanese rule and it should be noted that Wold War One (WWI) (1914 – 1918) contributed to an economic advantage for Taiwan, as would World War Two (WWII) (1939 -1945), and it is here that the first notable Asia-Pacific (A-P) strategic ‘footprint’ was formulated by the Japanese. Taiwan would become Japan’s ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier,’[7] and a location from which invasions of Southeast Asia could be launched.[8]  This state-of-affairs would last several decades until the populace of Taiwan would be relieved of Japanese rule in 1948, due to the unconditional surrender of Japan and the formal ending of the Pacific phase of WWII in 1945.

Although the war had ended for the US and its allies and Japan, a peripheral WWII conflict continued in China between Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalists regime—the KMT—and Mao Zedong’s communist rebels. As the advance of the Maoist rebels continued it would eventually involve a mass exodus to Taiwan—then known as Formosa. The Maoist rebels would achieve ultimate victory in 1949 which would result in domestic pressures as a desperate government-in-waiting came to terms with a fractious and fragile domestic environment caused by the said mass exodus. The influx alluded to, whilst it was ongoing gained momentum as Chiang’s forces continued to lose ground to Communist forces in mainland China and would inevitably result in a 1.5 million person exodus from the mainland to Taiwan which in turn, created another monumental upheaval to its established indigenous population and other incumbents that had for many reasons, chosen to make Taiwan their home. Due to the tense domestic environment and the desire of the KMT to establish its authority over its burgeoning population situations would inevitably expand beyond the control of government authorities, as is the wont when a populace is undergoing drastic change. Frictions ‘boiled over’ on numerous occasions and whilst there are too many to list here a cathartic happening did take place which resulted in a subversive reaction by the population of Taipei city and moreover, it offers evidence that the population at this time was heavily controlled and at a ‘breaking point.’ The incident is referred to as the February 1947, ‘2-28 Incident’ (Er-er ba).[9] Civil disobedience peaked and many Taiwanese and Chinese civilians were killed; including Chiang’s security forces incurring casualties. Order was finally restored by Chiang’s forces and there were numerous mechanisms put into place to ameliorate further unrest, however this only happened after Chiang’s forces had created havoc and killed thousands of people. Taiwan remained under martial law, although eventually stability was restored.

With the aforementioned events understood it is pertinent to mention that it was a high priority for the KMT to retain stability, as that the retreat to Taiwan was only intended to be a temporary move. A place from which the retaking of the mainland could be planned and launched in a timely manner through the astute application of assets; and a reforming of strategy.[10]  The importance of this element in the overall understanding of political- and regional-thinking cannot be over emphasised as it would shape Taiwanese government regional and geo-strategic-thinking and formulate policies of defence for decades beyond 1949. These have remained steadfast.

Sovereignty: As ascribed by the West and the United Nations

As an independent country Taiwan would exercise its rights to influence and promote the notion (and reality) that it remained an independent politico-entity although through various mechanisms of influence and would seek to elevate this more broadly to that of a ‘sovereign nation-state.’ The maintaining of such would incrementally ‘establish’ Taiwan as separate from mainland China legally and politically—this remains the status quo. From Taiwan’s perspective through to contemporary times it is a stance that has been maintained, regardless of what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers to be accurate or correct. Since 1949, respective Taiwanese governments would attempt to gain sovereign-statehood which according to the West exists through the auspices of the Treaty of Westphalia[11] (1648)[12]—hereafter referred to as the ‘Treaty’—and its acceptance by all nation-states as the legal framework of existence, which is interconnected to the unambiguous legalities and dyad of External sovereignty relates to a state’s place in the international order and its capacity to act as an autonomous entity … [and] Internal sovereignty is the notion of a supreme power/authority within the state. Located in the body that makes decisions that are binding on all citizens, groups, and institutions within the state’s territorial boundaries.[13]

With regard to the security of the territorial boundaries alluded to and confirmed by the Treaty, since time-in-memoriam and whether consisting of the group being monarchist, absolutist, dictatorial or democratic—which is to name only some examples of societal groupings—there has required a society to strategically plan its survival. Part of this exemplar of this state-of-affairs has required in the first instance a ‘defence force,’ and in the second, an ‘offence force.’ This remains true of all nation-states in contemporary times, regardless of their political suasion. The military force however, must remain under the direction of a recognised nation-state. Whilst this nation-state cum independence frictions will be dealt with later in this thesis it is enough to introduce the components of sovereignty and independence at this point. To be sure, what is of interest here is the abilities of successive Taiwan ROC governments to sustain Taiwan’s through the mechanisms of astutely applying politico-suasion, diplomacy and soft power; and of being for a time able to side-step the norms of United Nations (UN)[14] protocols without repercussions. This aspect can now be discussed further.

Whilst the above-mentioned is a complex environment per se, sovereignty largely consists of a recognised territory and a Eurocentric/Western model of government within that geographical space. What sovereignty allows for and what Taiwan has—as an independent country with an independent government—is to defend its citizens. In broad terms, this consists of a commonplace military triad: a standing army; a navy and an air force. It is a germane yet necessary point for clarity to state that these assets vary and sometimes overlap; and are dependent upon many elements. For nation-states without a coastline a navy is redundant and moreover, there are often fiscal, political and competency constraints within governments that impinge on their abilities to organise and develop adequate mechanisms of defence and offence. Notwithstanding these aspects, a declaration of independence is able to be made by an actor, however whether the action leads to ‘sovereignty’ is also dependent upon other factors in a post-WWII political environment is the UN—it is only the UN that is able to extend the legalities and formalities associated with the granting of sovereignty. Returning to the matter-at-hand, Taiwan ROC for all intent and purpose has all of the ‘requirements of sovereignty,’ such as an independent government; a civil and orderly society; rule-of-law; and a disciplined defence force comprising an army, navy and air force. There has been no attempt on the part of other nation-states to withdraw the right of Taiwan to build upon its society (including organising its military) and therefore, it has gained the status of being independent. Taiwan therefore, has many of the benefits of ‘sovereignty’ without the legal status of actually being a sovereign nation-state per se. It is here that an, albeit brief, initial understanding of the Taiwan – China state-of-affairs and the nuances therein, are able to be given an interpretation albeit from a Western cum Eurocentric, UN-driven perspective.

Notwithstanding this non-recognition by the UN and the politico-vulnerabilities this state-of-affairs consigns to Taiwan it has built a strong defence force with robust capabilities—albeit with some limitations. Taiwan has very limited offensive capabilities beyond the kinetic phase of mounting a defence platform, and due to its current asset mix and its small population it is safe to argue, its capabilities (without the support of allies) would disallow it to invade another country beyond gaining a limited military foothold. Hence, Taiwan’s defence force it can be further argued, remains strictly within this strategic proficiency and competency of defence. Whether Taiwanese forces would be able to sustain an invasion of another regional nation-state with the help of a powerful ally (or allies) is a moot point and need not be debated here.  The primary concern at this point is to establish Taiwan’s regional, international geo-political and geo-strategic status; reflect on its immediate strategic capabilities; and assemble an overall understanding of its domestic proficiencies, regional, geo-strategic, and politico-capabilities.

The history alluded to in the above-mentioned proffers the following: Taiwan is a vibrant and independent, recognised ‘quasi-state’ by numerous other nation-states; is a liberal-democracy that has a sophisticated defence force; and has a cosmopolitan international presence (despite its limitations). Nevertheless, since the 1950s successive governments of Taiwan ROC—although only having been a liberal-democracy since 1986 and of having its first independent and free elections in 1996—has sought and continued to influence and exert regional and international politico-pressure. Consecutive governments have utilised their aforesaid qualities and largely, given the constraints mentioned (although they are only some of the impediments), succeeded in establishing a strong regional and international presence which can now be examined further.

Continued tomorrow … Taiwan ROC: A forthright political and economic actor


[1] Taiwan has been known as Formosa due to the Spanish and Portuguese influence and mainland China governments refer (and continue) to Taiwan as a ‘Province of China,’ however and for ease of understanding, the common term ‘Taiwan’ will be used in this analysis; and when referring to the country in the context of an international sphere, or in a broader regional sense the term ‘Taiwan ROC’ will be used.

[2] According to the Taiwanese Ministry of the Interior, ’The vast majority (98%) of people living on Taiwan are Han Chinese, including around 12% of the population who are classified as Waishengren – people who fled from mainland China after the Chinese Civil War (and their descendants). The remaining two percent are Taiwanese Aborigines, descendants of the Austronesian peoples who dominated Taiwan until the 17th century.’ See:  World Population Review.

[3] A brief, yet concise history of Taiwan is able to be accessed. See: ‘Taiwan profile – Timeline.’ BBCNews. 9 Jan, 2018.

[4] This study will when and where appropriate refer to the ‘rise of China’ in the more immediate tense of China gaining incremental and then exponential influence within the region. However, it is important to note that the era of ‘pax-Sino’ refers to a long-term expansionist elements within the ‘rise’ referred to and therefore, when the term is used it will embrace the connotations of acknowledging the historical elements of the Latin term ‘pax,’ which refers to ‘a period in history marked by the absence of major wars usually imposed by a predominant nation.’  See: ‘Pax.’ In general terms and placing the term in context the meaning of the word usually implies ‘peace through force,’ with minor forces remaining peaceful due to the inherent kinetic repercussions a major force would impose on a conflict.

[5] The Treaty of Shimonoseki ‘concluded the first Sino-Japanese War (1894 – 95) which ended in China’s defeat … [forcing China to] cede Taiwan [to Japan].’ See: ‘Treaty of Shimonoseki. 1895. China – Japan.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. The Editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

[6] ‘Taiwan. Self-governing island, Asia.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. The Editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Emphasis added.

[7] Taiwan. Self-governing island, Asia.’ Encyclopædia Britannica

[8] Taiwan. Self-governing island, Asia.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. 

[9] Tomas Shattuck. ‘Taiwan’s White Terror: Remembering the 228 Incident.’ 27 Feb, 2017.

[10] For a comprehensive and succinct explanation of the Nationalist and guerrilla civil war on mainland China and the political happenings, see: ‘The Chinese Revolution of 1949.’ United States of America. Office of the Historian.

[11] The Treaty of Westphalia is widely recognised as the cornerstone of sovereign statehood and the legal framework therein. For the sake of understanding the Treaty is historically referred to as the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, the Settlement of Westphalia, the Peace Settlement of Westphalia, and the Peace Treaties of Westphalia. The Treaty of Westphalia was not borne of a single document as each, to some extent consisted of, and constituted, a ‘treaty’ of sorts. The most pertinent ones were of Franco-German intercession: the Treaty of Münster, and the Treaty of Osnabrück respectively. See: Leo Gross. ‘The Peace Treaty of Westphalia.’ The American Journal of International Law, 42, 1, January, 1948, 20-41.

[12] First and foremost the Treaty of Westphalia is a document designed to benefit the elites of Europa/Europe and its paradigms were imposed unilaterally on other rulers and their populations. Nevertheless, it is important to offer an historical perspective in order to understand its ramifications per se; and to come to terms with the ‘rise of China’ in the main body of the text and  which will be explored later in this thesis. The Treaty of Westphalia is also referred to as the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, the Settlement of Westphalia, the Peace Settlement of Westphalia, and the Peace Treaties of Westphalia. The Treaty of Westphalia was not borne of a single document as each, to some extent consisted of, and constituted, a ‘treaty’ of sorts. The most pertinent ones were of Franco-German intercession: the Treaty of Münster, and the Treaty of Osnabrück respectively. See: Leo Gross. ‘The Peace Treaty of Westphalia.’ The American Journal of International Law, 42, 1, January, 1948, 20-41.

[13]  See: Andrew Heywood. Key Concepts in Politics. Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2000, 29. Key Concepts in Politics, 37. Emphasis in original.

[14] The merits or shortcomings of the UN as a body-politic—and its forerunner the League of Nations—need not be debated here, as an acknowledgement of the UN’ power need be acknowledged and the UN as a body-politic, explained. Jentleson succinctly sums up the specific function of the UN, in terms of its place in the international arena since its immediate post-WWII inception and of it constituting, ‘the world’s only multilaterally universal political [representative] body … [which] possesses a unique role in providing collective [nation-state] legitimisation. No other body or international actor can claim comparable legitimacy for establishing global norms and for the authorising of action in its name.’ See: Bruce Jentleson. ‘Preventative Statecraft: A Realist Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era.’ Turbulent Peace. The Challenge of Managing International Peace. Edited by Chester Crocker, Fen Hampsen and Pamela Aall. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2001, 259.

Strobe Driver completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.


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The Most Selfish of Virtues: Alan Bennett’s ‘Lady in the Van’

It does seem specific. A middle-class concern centred on a man and an elderly woman, a sort of surrogate, irritating mother type of indulgent wisdom and uncertain past, seemingly irritating yet, on some level, fulfilling. Alan Bennett writes prose that moves gracefully, a sort of tender glaze of tea, cocoa and the fire place. But it was Bennett who brought, into being, this figure who provided haunting teases, provocations and awareness.

It’s all about a van, this un-priestly domain of living, and its indomitable occupant, a certain Miss Mary (or Margaret?) Shepherd, who proffers manners godly but prefers, often, a distinctly profane form of living. The van itself, poor condition, appears in Gloucester Crescent, north London. Movement followed, a kind of inexorable progression. Eventually, number 23 – Bennett’s residence – became a home. She would stay for fifteen years.

These are fifteen years that waver between emotions, though one is consistent. “One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation,” remembers Bennett. During her stay, she is effusive about receiving “guidance from the Virgin Mary” and claims to being horrendously busy. She sells tracts. “I sell them, but so far as authorship is concerned I’ll say they are anonymous and that’s as far as I am prepared to go.”

She becomes a feature of Gloucester Crescent. For some, its pity – and these are given short shrift; then there the youths keen to get a look. Even police on the beat, as Bennett recalls, were happy to have their little stab of curiosity to “enliven a dull hour of their beat.” She becomes an object of village persecution, from stall holders to children. Drunks smash the windows of the van. The vehicle, at stages, is given a violent rocking. But she maintains, throughout, a degree of equanimity. She even has time to tell Bennett that she witnessed “a ginger feller I saw in Parkway in company with Mr Khrushchev. Has he disappeared recently?”

Then there is the sanitation – or its conspicuous lack of. Concealment and blame are the order of the day: Yardley dusting power is used generously; and, when in doubt, some other cause is identified as being responsible for the “Susie Wong”.

For Bennett, charity is not unadulterated. This, perhaps, is the lingering lesson of this encounter. He quotes, at the start of his account of Miss S in Writing Home, William Hazlitt’s observations in “On the Knowledge of Character” (1822): “Good nature, or what is often considered as such, is the most selfish of all virtues: it is nine times out of ten mere indolence of disposition.”

There is guilt, self-interest and anger in such a disposition. The repeated attacks and attention eventually see Miss S find her way into a form of tenancy in the garden, security that provides scant comfort for Bennett. He wanted “a quiet life as much as, and possibly more than, she did. In the garden she was at least out of harm’s way.”

When Miss S finally moves off the mortal coil, having bathed, given a set of fresh clothes and clean sheets, Bennett finds himself searching her van searching for clues as to what made her live the way she did. He was surprised to find it all rather ordinary, in fact, as ordinary as the lives of others, particularly his own mother: kitchen utensils, soap, talcum powder, hoarded toilet rolls. “The more I laboured, the less peculiar the van seemed – its proprieties and aspirations no different from those with which I had been brought up.” And there are the savings, some £6,000.

Two remarkable women have entered this figure (figuratively speaking), attempting to capture the essence of that Lady in the Van. Maggie Smith, who played Miss S in the 1999 stage production and then in the film version in 2015, is inimitable, hard bitten, and impossible. Miriam Margolyes adds a tender dimension to the Melbourne stage, using her entire frame to convey presence. She does not match the original description of Miss S by Bennett in any convincing sense: “Nearly six foot, she was a commanding figure” though the outfit is correct enough: “greasy raincoat, orange skirt, Ben Hogan golfing cap and carpet slippers.” Height is compensated for in terms of sheer billowing character.

The display at the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production falters a tad with the two figures playing Bennett – such bifurcations can be a tricky business. One Alan is bad enough, but we are left with two, voices teasing, adjusting, cajoling each other like lingering lovers. It is clear that somewhere there, a demon is meant to push the angel over, though neither is entirely demonic nor angelic.

Critics, worried about their brief, will attempt to read things into matters that do not exist. Smith is the naturally hardened one, immune to brittle senses yet aware; and Margolyes has a certain heavenly struck sense about her, touching amidst the faecal spread and confessions. Both figures may well have played an inscrutable character disposed to a certain urine smell and the incontinence pad but both supply the necessary boldness for the role in contrast to the timid Bennett, who lives, in Camus’s words, “slightly the opposite of expressing.” Fittingly, they stretch the bounds of charity, showing, as it were, its selfish virtuousness.

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An Interview with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison

By Andrew Richey  

ABC Interviewer: PM, do you believe that this government has done enough on climate change?

PM Morrison: Well first of all, Leigh… can I call you Leigh?

ABC Interviewer:  Yes but it’s not my name.

PM Morrison: Well, Leigh, climate change has been around since the dawn of time… since Noah and maybe even back 6000 years ago to Adam and Eve.

ABC Interviewer: Are you saying the Earth is only 6000 years old?

PM Morrison: Now you’re putting words in my mouth, Leigh.  The fact is climate is… that thing we see when we look outside… unless of course we’re blind… I always want to remember the poor disabled. If we look out the window or door for that matter, we see it and we’ve always seen it throughout human history. Like when we say out in the bush, as Barnaby tells it: “The rains are comin’, love.”

ABC Interviewer: You seem to be very much focused on outdated technology, like coal-fired power plants.

PM Morrison: We must never speak ill of coal. God gave us coal, all those thousands of years ago. Now, Leigh don’t start with the dinosaurs being the ones who made coal, they didn’t have the brains. No, coal and all the other wondrous things we have were God given materials for us to rule the planet in his name. Barnaby himself sleeps with a lump of coal… in fact, and I don’t want to let the cat out of the goanna, they’re expecting.

ABC Interviewer: I see… can we move on to the Banking Royal Commission?

PM Morrison: The banking what now?

ABC Interviewer: The Banking Royal Commission.

PM Morrison: Oh yes… and weren’t the banks wonderful about it. I mean, Leigh if you were being criticised like that, would you turn the other cheek and continue to make money for the good of the Australian people… I doubt it? Only the banks could show such Christian values. Who’s going to look after your money for you, Leigh, if not the banks. You can’t store it all in your copies of Das Kapital, you know.

ABC Interviewer: But the Commission found a lot of questionable practices.

PM Morrison: But the banks said they were sorry and if you were a Christian, Leigh you would understand what forgiveness is.

ABC Interviewer: Being a Christian, shouldn’t your view on asylum seekers be more compassionate?

PM Morrison: Have you ever heard an asylum seeker say sorry for coming here… I don’t think so, Leigh. In fact, all I ever hear is complaining. We even give them accommodation, better accommodation than baby Jesus ever had and what do we hear Leigh, what do we hear?

ABC Interviewer: But, Prime Minster, over the years most of them have being found to be genuine refugees and we have plenty of people arriving by plane that seek asylum.

PM Morrison: Arriving by plane is civilised, it shows they have taken on Western values already and that is havin’ a go, if ever I’ve seen it but boats… that’s Third World stuff. They are different than us, Leigh and anyone different than us should rightfully be feared; It’s just like our sensible fear of solar and wind power…it’s just not natural. If God had wanted us to all live together in harmony He would not have confused our languages at the Tower of Babel and if he wanted us to use wind and solar he would not have given us coal, gas and oil and I do stress the word He here, Leigh.

ABC Interviewer: Let’s move on to LGBTQI Issues. Are you happy with marriage equality?

PM Morrison: Look, the people of Australia have spoken and it’s unfortunate they got it wrong but it’s totally understandable, as the vast majority are heathens who are being deceived by Satan and I don’t mean Bill Shorten… that was a joke, Leigh.  Hopefully over time and with the funding of Christian schools Australia will experience a glorious revival and marriage can go back to the way it was with Adam and Eve.

ABC Interviewer: If you win the next election will your government increase unemployment benefits?

PM Morrison: The Bible says if you don’t work, you don’t eat and as most of the voters are going to be tortured in Hell for eternity anyway, going without food is nothing in comparison to that.

ABC Interviewer: What do you think of your opposition?

PM Morrison: Communists through and through. Do you realise that Bill Shorten’s middle name is Marx and Albanese’s is Stalin?

ABC Interviewer: That’s not right.

PM Morrison: That is just the sort of left-wing bias I have come to expect from the ABC and let me tell you, the people of Australia have had a gutful. They are fair dinkum cobbers unlike you Bolsheviks and they don’t want to see millions end up in a gulag in Tassie somewhere near Launceston, like you buggers do. No, we the people have had enough of you pandering to the facts rather than the real bread and butter issues as outlined by the government… would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?

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Size Matters: The Demise of the A380

The aircraft business has always been a dear affair. More than other forms of transport, it remains susceptible to oscillating costs (materials, fuel), ever at the mercy of the uncontrollable. The Airbus A380 was meant to be a giant’s contribution to aviation. In time, its makers came to the conclusion that the bird had already flown.

In the solemn words of outgoing Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, “We have no sustainable A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.”

As much as it was a “technical wonder” (an “outstanding engineering and industrial achievement” boasted Enders), the A380 simply did not have the momentum financially to carry the company. To a large extent, this may have been embedded in the mission itself: to outperform, at quite literally all cost, the Boeing 747, the super mega jet dream born in 1988 when Airbus engineers went to work on designing an ultra-high-capacity-airliner (UHCA). This would entail the guzzling addition of four jet engines, and an ongoing headache to the accountants.

The consequences of this vain if admired project have been more than head-ache inducing. Carriers who have gone for purchases of the divine beast have underperformed on the revenue side of things. Such large entities, to make matters viable, need orders covering up to four-fifths of the seats. This leads to incentives to discount prices and seek promotions. In the penny-pinching world of air travel, this is a tall order.

And big it is. The A380 was advertised for its breezy size and proportions – 73 metres in length, 80 metres wide, able to ferry 550 to 800 passengers, depending on type, on two complete decks. Floor space was increased dramatically (some 49 percent), with additional seating being a mere 35 percent from the previous largest aircraft. The comfort factor was enhanced: more passenger room, and less noise.  In a machine sense, it made many in the aeronautical side of things salivate: modern computerised systems; powerful Rolls-Royce reactors. A truly big toy.

The transport routes favouring hubs (Dubai and Singapore) were originally the target of the A380. Megacities would proliferate; traffic between them would necessitate bigger planes to cope with capacity issues. Congestion would thereby be reduced. But there were delays – some eighteen months – before it finally made its maiden flight on April 7, 2005.

Then came a change in strategy from hub destinations. A diversification of travel routes took place. Appropriate capacity for destinations was simply not there. The market has also grown at a lesser rate. Projections, in other words, have not been met.

In 2015, it was already clear that the A380 was more than struggling. No new orders were taken. The order book then stood at 317 units, with Airbus needing to make it to 420 to break even. (The original projection had been 270, but delays and currency fluctuations will do that sort of thing.)

The arrival of fuel-efficient, longer-haul flights have also become something of a curse. The Boeing 787 and Airbus’ own A350 have done more than simply pique interest. A move in their direction signals a greater interest in the More Electric Aircraft generation. Qantas Airways Ltd. is seen as an example: initially enthusiastic about Emirates, having made an alliance in 2013, it has moved with greater enthusiasm towards Cathay, courtesy of the 787. This means that the traditional hub destinations like Dubai can be by-passed.

The largest purchaser of the A380 – Emirates – has done its best to keep orders coming in for the company. (In of itself, this suggests dangers to both purchaser and supplier.) Gross orders as of January 31, 2019 show Emirates coming in at a staggering 162, with Singapore Airlines a very distant second at 24. Since 2008, it has made the airline its centrepiece. Emirates’ tastes are also fairly unique, being the only major airline preferring large, twin-aisle, wide-bodied jets.

But the airline is looking elsewhere, downsizing to the smaller A350 or A330. The numbers are eye popping: of the 56 aircraft still on the order line, 53 are set for Emirates; but Dubai’s national carrier was contemplating switching 20 orders of the Airbus SE 380. Confirmation that it would cut orders for the A380 by 39 was enough of a call for Enders.

There are, however, still a few tricks available in the A380 bag. Emirates, for one, managed to do the unusual thing of having increasing numbers of passengers while reducing departures. It won’t and has not saved the continued production of the A380, but that large creature of avionics is set to be around for a time before a full, unpensioned retirement. In Enders’ romantic reflection, the A380 would be roaming “the skies for many years to come”.

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$35 Million Boost For Music Sector

Media Release

A Daley Labor Government will increase public support for the music industry from $4 million to $35 million, providing a boost to musicians, venues, and an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars to the NSW economy.

Since the Liberals and Nationals were elected in 2011, NSW has lost hundreds of music venues and thousands of jobs, and we are now losing music festivals as well.

Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy, John Graham, announced Labor’s plan for the music sector which includes:

… Increasing total funding for music to $35 million, up from $4 million per year over the last four years of the Liberal and National Government.

… Streamlining the licensing process for music festivals and allow organisers with an established record to obtain multi-year approvals for festivals.

… Rebuilding the suburban and regional touring circuit in NSW, with $1.3 million to support an “On the Road Again” program to take music industry promoters and booking agents on tour to regional venues and provide a substantial funding boost to the ‘Live and Local’ program.

… Direct support for artists to record and tour, including internationally through a new $1.3 million “Music Passport” program; and regionally and nationally through a new $5.1 million “band aid” program.

… Investing $4 million to support music festivals across NSW.

NSW Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham said:

“Labor wants to keep venues open, and keep musicians in work. We want festivals moving to NSW, not fleeing the jurisdiction.”

“The measures that we have announced will help the NSW music scene reach its potential.”

NSW Labor candidate for Manly, Natasha Phillips-Mason applauded the boost:

“Labor is committed to re-building our music industry, and resuscitating the regional touring circuit.”

“A small investment goes a long way in this sector, and we are committed to building stronger ties between government and the music industry.”

Labor’s plan to stop the Liberal Party’s war on live music comes after measures already announced to save live music in NSW, including implementing the Parliamentary Music Inquiry’s 60 recommendations to improve conditions for music venues.

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Farmer Protection GM inquiry fails GM-free farmers and consumers

Media Release

The report delivered by the parliamentary committee’s inquiry into mechanisms for compensation for non-GM farmers has disappointed consumers and GM-free farmers alike.

“While we are grateful for the opportunity to have this inquiry we are dissatisfied by its findings and find it astonishing that there are no recommendations at the end of this process” says Janet Grogan, FOODwatch representative and principal petitioner.

“Our primary reason for creating this petition and call for farmer protection legislation is because we are concerned by the potential loss of access to GM-free food grown here in WA due to repeated events of GM contamination.”

“The committee finds minimal evidence of systemic contamination by GMOs in WA”, but who is looking? There have been many GM contamination events in WA since the dismal GM canola trials of 2009 when, despite best practice and intensive monitoring, there were 11 contamination events at just 19 sites.”

“We know anecdotally that farmers are experiencing GM contamination problems, but are wary of speaking publicly because of the very findings which the committee has made concerning the impacts these problems have in small rural communities”.

“It is unfair that the committee is suggesting that the GM-free farmer now carries additional responsibility to deal with potential GM contamination events by increasing insurance cover, which comes with its own risks”.

“Common Law has already failed to deal with GM contamination so it is unreasonable to believe that it can be used adequately again. The report actually concedes that “the use of Common Law may be inadequate.”

“Here the GM sector of WA’s grain industry has seen its share in the local market fall for the past three years. GM canola now accounts for less than 20% of all canola, and less than 3% of all grain grown in WA, and yet appears to take no responsibility to control contamination.”

“This report should have come with recommendations to shift the onus of mitigating GM contamination onto the GM growers, as was suggested in our submission. The majority of people want the choice to buy GM-free food, but if our farmers are not protected they may not be able to provide it.“

You can see the report here.

See page 5 of the Canola Variety Sowing Guide for canola variety table.

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