Beijing’s definition of ‘Chinese’ is dangerous
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times  2017.6.24

The way Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has been going about setting up a system of tributaries to the Chinese empire — in addition to military matters and economic expansion — is to include 60 million “Chinese descendants” abroad within the “Chinese” scope, thus making them “a part of China.”

Ever since Xi took office, the issue of a “Chinese descendant card” has been discussed constantly and has sparked many disputes.

Although Chinese officials continue to deny it, issuing a “Taiwan compatriot travel document” and extending “the same treatment as citizens” to Taiwanese is clearly a part of this plan.

At the opening of the 13th National Games of China in Tianjin in late August, the General Administration of Sport is to introduce a policy that allows top Chinese athletes who hold citizenship in another nation and top overseas Chinese athletes to participate, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

“Chinese holding another citizenship” means someone who was originally a Chinese citizen, but has obtained another nation’s citizenship, as well as descendants of Chinese citizens.

This definition is what China and former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) meant with their talk about “descendants of the Yellow Emperor”: No matter how many generations your family has lived outside of China, you will always be a target.

If these people were to participate in China’s National Games to fight for the glory of “the nation,” they would of course be fighting for the glory of China and not their own country, raising the issue of loyalty.

In the wake of the flooding in eastern China in 1991, a People’s Daily commentator wrote that the disaster relief provided by Chinese and “compatriots” in Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as well as overseas Chinese was a display of the “strong cohesion of the Chinese nation” and that the “Chinese nation is a whole, and any place within that nation is an indivisible part of China.”

At the time, I had said that it was an awkward statement for Chinese in other nations.

Singapore took a low profile when providing disaster relief out of concern that it would be seen as a part of China.

China has never paid any attention to the legal nationality held by Chinese descendants — it only recognizes racial blood relations, which is effectually racist.

However, Western nations are not sufficiently aware of this, and therefore indulge the loyalty toward China of these “unreformed” Chinese descendants who now hold citizenship in a Western country, even thinking they could be making up a Chinese fifth column.

The US has arrested many Chinese descendants involved in technological or business espionage — surely these people have been encouraged by China to betray the US.

China is manipulating Chinese descendants into serving the Chinese Communist Party, but when they get caught, Beijing ignores them.

This is a lesson that cannot be ignored.

Taiwanese should be frightened by the prospect of receiving “the same treatment as citizens” and worry about Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) rather than remain complacent.

This is not the time to be “friendly toward China.”

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Perry Svensson



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