By Joon Kim
Taipei, July 25－After quietly listening to an investigative podcast in BBC’s The Documentary that was published July 17, I was genuinely surprised by its flatly agreeable content. In Caroline Bayley’s self-produced episode, titled “Soft Power Seduction: China Lures Taiwan’s Youth,” Ms. Bayley had visited the cities of Shanghai and “the heart of Taiwan,” Taipei, to open a serial of affable conversations with young Taiwanese aspirants and others about seeking new businesses in China.
Why are a lot, if not all, Taiwan’s youth relocating to China?
As an outsider citizen whose nationality is questionable, with no palpable expertise in the professional fieldworks of political science, I have begun to think that China is undertaking a diplomatic operation with well-adjusted stratagems to attract Taiwanese customers — namely its generation of youth.
Its operation is driven by two levels. First, to undermine Taiwanese efforts for pro-independence standards with maximal interference on every aspect of Taiwanese lifestyle. Second, covertly curtained, to withdraw Taiwan’s potential driving force for its sociopolitical future, its governmental powers strained, and facing extra burdens. At the other end of the cross strait is an ongoing struggle for a de facto islander nation to resurface its federal reserves. You may say that the island, which is used to being coerced by its mainland neighbor, could be — or has been, unknowingly —sinking below China’s immitigable force.
On local news, headlines are ominous: Economic stagnation. Unemployment surges. Chinese interference, yet again. “Taiwan,” revoked. As the dogmatic year of 2018 is slowly progressing toward an uncertain endgame, Taiwan’s optimal rates have been falling beyond zero without break since February, its plenipotentiary beauty decaying within seconds of a familiar yet ‘foreign’ control. For legal ventures have long proven useless, official statements have substituted actions with words, unfazed, if not, of Taiwanese independence. But could they persist for another decade or so?
And so, without doubt, its offspring have eyed, or as Ms. Bayley has described, has been “lured,” to China’s promotional “31 incentive measures” for cultural and economic change, in exchange for their own prosperity. This is, undoubtedly, a successful purse for Chinese President Xi’s so-called “Chinese Dream”; however, particularly dangerous to sovereign leaders in Taiwan. They must persuade their children with swift action before China does, or else, they could be waiting for something worse to appear.
“But we also need to have a sit-down discussion with China to come with a solution that is mutually acceptable to both sides,” said Taiwanese President Tsai in an interview in 2016. That mutuality, even the essence of it, has long been broken since 1949, after communism braced the top half, and democracy secured below. China would not sit for two nations, but for itself.
For China, reconciling with Taiwan could take one last step, but the United States has, for nearly a half a century of relief, pulled it apart from reach. For Taiwan, U.S. alliance is its first and most powerful (and maybe, trustworthy) measure. But during a national contingency, Taiwan’s first step is to pay attention to its children, who have had lost all their hopes at home, to restore the last of all its hopes back home.