Each year there are fewer who still remember the events of February 28, 1947. However, for those that do remember, the annual passing of the date is a sad and solemn reminder that the imposed Republic of China regime committed outrageous atrocities against the Formosan people. The exiled Republic of China remains the government controlling the island today, a source enduring emotional pain to those elderly who remember.
The deliberately confused history of the Republic of China and its occupation of Formosa, now called Taiwan, is the result of seven decades of “strategic ambiguity” that has clouded the island’s sovereignty. ROC apologists, like President Tsai Ing-wen, argue the exiled regime has changed, is now democratic and is already a legitimate nation. However, Taiwan public spaces remain littered with monuments and statues of dictator Chiang Kai-shek, who was responsible for decades of terror and crimes against an innocent populace.
On February 27, 1947, in Taipei, the ROC tax police severely beat a street vendor triggering a spontaneous demonstration the next day. Chiang’s battle-hardened troops responded with violence and unknown thousands of Formosans were ruthlessly murdered. The White Terror period that followed was accompanied by four decades of martial law. It became illegal to even talk about the 228 Massacre.
The misery and suffering of the Taiwanese people at the hands of the Chinese government in-exile is treated as a historical event, long ago supposedly corrected by the ROC when it suspended martial law and allowed the formation of political parties. However, one day a year at the end of February, the populace is forced to examine the continued rule of the ROC with its hero worship of dictator Chiang. Decades of brainwashing by twisted history lessons only allow this small window into reality before the fog of strategic ambiguity rolls back in and clouds everyone’s vision.
In the United States, the 228 Massacre is ignored and doesn’t make it into the history books of school children. Americans do not know that their country looked the other way when the blood flowed in the streets by crimes of its ally, the Republic of China. The same flag from the days of the 228 Massacre and White Terror stills flies from the presidential office building, the legislative yuan, and at the Chiang memorial hall.
The pain of February 28 comes not just from remembrance of that sad day in 1947, but also a brief realization that the Chinese occupation government that brought misery to Formosa is still there.
In an expected ruling, the Information Review Tribunal has ordered Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner of the United Kingdom, to respond to her decision protecting the identity of University of London thesis examiners. Denham has been given until March 16 by the court to explain why she is protecting the identity two thesis examiners who purportedly reviewed the 1984 London School of Economics thesis of Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai Ing-wen, president of the Republic of China in-exile, triggered an academic firestorm when she submitted her PhD thesis to the London School of Economics Library in June 2019, thirty-five years late. The thesis, entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions,” was to have been submitted to complete Tsai’s degree process when she graduated. The tardy thesis finally submitted by Tsai appears to be a draft document, unbound with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten entries including a question mark.
President Tsai, the London School of Economics where she studied, and the University of London which issued her diploma, all refuse to name the two professors who allegedly approved the thesis. Tsai has publicly bragged about the examiners claiming they were so impressed they wanted to give her an extra degree. Tsai won’t say why she is keeping the examiners’ identities secret. The two London schools say they cannot tell because that is Tsai’s private information.
The Freedom of Information request for the names of the thesis examiners has been working its way through the system since September 2019, when the London School of Economics said the University of London had the answers. The University of London says they know who the examiners are but can’t divulge the identities because of Tsai’s right to privacy.
The Information Commissioner’s Office upheld the University of London and the matter went to court. Resolution of the Freedom of Information request has been delayed by a territoriality issue limiting the court to United Kingdom citizens. The Information Review Tribunal has now ruled that anyone in the world may make information requests.
Denham was given twenty-eight days, until March 24, to respond to the lawsuit and ordered to inform the University of London of the pending case. If the University chooses to not intervene the school will not be allowed to make its own arguments to the court and will have to rely on Denham to defend its privacy decision.
Tsai’s thesis was briefly an issue in her reelection campaign but stonewalling by LSE and the University of London allowed the controversy over the thesis and claims of a fraudulent degree to die down. A future ruling by the court that the University must disclose the identity of the thesis examiners may well bring the issue back to life.
The campaign to obtain freedom for former Black Panther leader Edward Poindexter is gaining growing support as evidenced by a new billboard near Interstate 480 in Omaha, Nebraska, calling for his freedom. Poindexter has been imprisoned since 1970 for the bombing murder of an Omaha policeman following a controversial trial marred by withheld evidence, apparent planted evidence, conflicting police testimony, questionable forensic evidence, and perjured testimony by the state’s chief witness, Duane Peak, the confessed bomber.
Poindexter, sentenced to life at hard labor at the close of the April 1971 trial, has survived co-defendant David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa) who died at the maximum security Nebraska State Penitentiary in March 2016 while serving his life sentence. The two prisoners were leaders of a Black Panther Party affiliate chapter called the National Committee to Combat Fascism and targets of a clandestine counterintelligence operation code-named COINTELPRO conducted illegally by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Preston Love, Jr. is a member of the Freedom for Ed Committee that has held a prayer vigil, a march, and a demonstration outside the home of Governor Pete Ricketts. Love, who chairs the organization Black Votes Matter, is firmly convinced Poindexter was a victim of a wrongful conviction. Over the years, Freedom of Information lawsuits have slowly uncovered secret federal manipulation of the murder investigation and subsequent criminal trial. However, despite the revelations, Poindexter has not been granted a new trial.
Many, including a national justice group, have called Poindexter a political prisoner because of the COINTELPRO subterfuge and subsequent unfair courtroom injustice that has kept him imprisoned for half a century. The funds for the billboard were provided in a grant from the Jericho Movement to Free All Political Prisoners. Jericho Boston helped defray the billboard costs.
Denied a new trial by the courts, Poindexter is getting similar treatment from the Nebraska Pardon Board, made up of the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. The three politicians control Poindexter’s fate as they determine sentence commutations. Until the trio acts, the Nebraska Parole Board cannot take up Poindexter’s case.
Not only has the Pardon Board thus far declined to consider Poindexter’ request for a commutation of sentence, they insist he must continue to wait for a hearing. Despite Poindexter’s age, 76, and ailing health, the Pardon Board refuses to hear his case while they work on pardons for persons no longer in jail.
In a stunning display of disregard for the numerous calls throughout the country to reduce prison populations as the Covid virus runs rampant behind bars, the Nebraska Parole Board refuses to consider commutation requests ahead of pardons for those who have already served their sentence. The board has approximately fifty pending commutation requests yet only hears a half-dozen cases every several months. Instead, the majority of cases that appear before the board are for pardons from ex-convicts who have already been released from the prison risk of infection. The board also refuses to triage the commutation requests to put elderly or at risk prisoners on an expedited schedule.
Ricketts and his two political colleagues have failed Good Government 101. The best place to start on any reduction of the number of confined inmates would be with those seeking commutation. Their cases are already prepared for consideration and would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Preston Love explains the reason for the billboard. “It is time for the public to realize that Ed Poindexter is real and is vulnerable to forces beyond his control, just like the rest of us. His humanness, his face, his life. We hope this billboard will close the gap for many to speak out for Ed and help get the State’s knee off his throat, let him breathe”
More information on Ed Poindexter is available in the book FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and in ebook format. Portions of the book may also be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.
The downfall of President Donald Trump, impeached twice and abandoned by former supporters in the wake of the Capitol riot, is yet one more setback for the battered Taiwan Civil Government. The Taiwanese advocacy group sought to expel the Republic of China in-exile with Trump’s help.
Taiwan Civil Government, now under investigation by ROC prosecutors, split into factions after the October 2019 death of founder Roger Lin. TCG had hoped for recognition by Trump and poured millions of dollars into Washington in a failed bid to win over Trump insiders. Although the group scored a photo session with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and funded a Heritage Foundation reception for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, headway came to a crashing halt with the May 2018 arrests of TCG leaders for political fraud.
The conduit for the TCG money was Neil Hare, a Washington lobbyist with Trump connections. Hare eventually dumped TCG after the group defaulted on a million dollar public relations contract with his company, Global Vision Communications. Hare also disbanded a TCG funded Chamber of Commerce chapter in Washington that he headed.
Hare convinced the Taiwan group that Trump would save the island from the ROC and funneled money to media groups, think tanks, and expensive advertising campaigns to influence Trump. TCG donors bought Hare’s pitch and idolized Trump, whose portrait was plastered on the TCG office walls.
However, the fraud arrests which accused Roger Lin and others of cheating the TCG membership with false claims, put a stop to the group’s headway in Washington. Internal fighting over the fraud allegations split the group which had hosted a Trump inauguration reception. Media houses which had accepted TCG advertising revenue refused to report on the group’s legal problems. Still the TCG faithful gave money in an effort to influence Trump’s foreign policy.
The one-sided donations were also one-way. Trump ignored the group even though Hare kept throwing TCG money around Washington. Trump became almost a cult figure to the TCG loyalists, despite doing nothing to help their legal problems or desire to rid Taiwan of the exiled Chinese government which has controlled the island since the end of World War II. Group members, seemingly convinced of Trumps’ secret support for the cause, ignored Trump’s growing disfavor in Washington. Hare made little effort to balance the group spending and now TCG is left with virtually no friends in Washington, no back doors in the incoming Biden administration.
Split into factions, leaders still facing fraud prosecution, TCG is but a shadow of its past influence. Gone are the days of big parades and noisy rallies. The nightmare of the Capitol riot as Trump departs office in disgrace has ended dreams of Trump somehow saving Taiwan.
Taiwan Civil Government gambled on Donald Trump and lost.
The strange story of a London School of Economics PhD thesis has developed a new plot line. The 1984 thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions” was written by Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen when she was a graduate student in London. Tsai set off an academic firestorm in June 2019 when she submitted the thesis to the LSE Library, thirty-five years late. Now ROC prosecutors in Taipei are claiming a Chinese spy operation spread misinformation about the thesis in a bid to upset Tsai’s re-election to a second term in January 2020.
The purported spy, Ho Jianghua, denies the charge and claims her indictment is an example of the flawed justice system in the exiled Republic of China. Ho is head of the women’s division of the China Unification Promotion Party, a small pro-China party in Taiwan which is also known as the Union Party. Many Taiwanese refer to party members as White Wolves. The party supported Kuomintang candidate Mayor Han in the election campaign.
Details of the purported counterintelligence operation have not been revealed but supposedly involve a payment to spread misinformation to influence the ROC presidential election. Thus far, President Tsai has herself been a source of misinformation about the thesis. Tsai erroneously claimed one of her professors, who she cited in the thesis, was dead. John Barcelo, who is alive and well, says he had no role in the writing of the thesis. Tsai also falsely captioned a photo in her online memoir, taken with her sister in Boston, as being taken in London when the sister allegedly visited to give support during the thesis oral examination.
Ho Jianghua, an opponent of Taiwanese independence, is no stranger to ROC prosecutors, who have also charged Ho’s assistant Pao Ke-ming in the case. Ho and Pao are accused of violating the National Security Act.
Ho’s new purported crime was staging a “People Demand the Truth” demonstration on November 20, 2019, outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei. It was during this protest that the alleged misinformation about Tsai’s thesis was distributed.
Ho, who was born in China, is accused of making frequent trips to China and working with a group called the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots. Ho allegedly received $4,600 USD eleven days before the rally as her payment. Ho’s alleged spymaster in Beijing is a man named Huang Xinyu.
Ho and Pao are accused of recruiting Chinese spies married to Taiwanese spouses. According to prosecutors the goal was acquiring military and political information. The pair also allegedly monitored Taiwanese business in China and student activities.
Ho claims ROC repression of political belief is behind the criminal charges. Following her indictment Ho said, “Taiwan’s justice system is dead.”
Prosecutors, who are seeking a lengthy jail sentence, countered Ho’s remarks: “She does not appreciate living in a free, democratic society. Rather, she abuses our nation’s constitutional guarantee of democratic mechanisms for the rule by law and subverted national security.”
The Chinese Unification Promotion Party was founded in 2005 by organized crime figure Chang An-lo, a leader of the Bamboo Union triad. The party most recently has been getting negative publicity for its attacks on Hong Kong democracy activists. The New Power Party has called for a ban on political activity by the CUPP, while its affinity for flags of the People’s Republic of China has left many Taiwanese fearful of the party.
Chang has been accused in the media of being a Kuomintang hitman during the martial law era and heading an international crime syndicate before turning to politics. The CUPP is known for its rough street tactics at political events. CUPP hooligans attacked pro-independence students in 2017 on the campus of National Taiwan University. Hong Kong democracy activists were also attacked by party members that year. White Wolves targeted the pro-American advocacy group Taiwan Civil Government with a noisy protest outside the TCG office two years ago in Taipei and are suspected of a firebombing at the now-demolished TCG headquarters in Taoyuan.
Ho spoke with the Global Times after being charged. Ho said, “I have told them that if I receive one penny from the mainland for political purposes, you can execute me at once.”
When asked about her Chinese connections, Ho was defiant. “We are from the mainland, and the mainland is our home as well even as we live in Taiwan. We have exchanges with the mainland-based civil organization like the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots to share sentiments and experiences with Taiwan compatriots who moved to the mainland. But unfortunately, all of these could become excuses for the secessionist Taiwan authority of the Democratic Progressive Party to prosecute.”
The Global Times is a Chinese newspaper and refers to the Republic of China in-exile as the “Democratic Progressive Party authority” in the story quoting Ho. Actually, the preferred name for Taiwan, formerly Formosa, by the People’s Republic China is “Chinese Taipei” to support claims the island is a breakaway state.
Ho has been under investigation for months and was prevented from returning to China in April for her mother’s funeral. Prior to the January elections, Ho led a sixteen member group on a three-county tour that was partially subsidized with money from China. Ho was accused of vote-buying with the campaign junket. Ho’s response is that she is the victim of “political persecution” because of her pro-China views.
Ho might be a Chinese spy, that remains to be proven. However, Ho’s questioning of Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 thesis is a crime shared by many. Allegations of academic fraud have dogged Tsai ever since her tardy thesis submission. The thesis itself raises questions. The dissertation looks like a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten notations including a question mark.
Tsai has escalated the controversy by refusing to name the two thesis examiners who purportedly approved her work during a Sunday thesis viva session in October 1983. Tsai has boasted how impressed the thesis examiners were but will not identify them for verification. Neither the London School of Economics, where Tsai studied, nor the University of London, which awarded Tsai her doctorate, will say who the two professors were or when they signed off for her diploma.
Tsai has made criminal defamation complaints against attorney Ho De-fen and newsman Dennis Peng for comments they have made about the controversial thesis. Those cases are pending. Now Ho Jianghua is facing a jail sentence over her protest about the thesis.
Meanwhile, in London, three different appeals are lodged with the Information Review Tribunal in an effort to force the two schools to come clean about who approved Tsai’s thesis and when. A court hearing in January will resolve whether the cases can go forward.
Pictures don’t lie, but sometimes captions do. President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China in-exile falsely posted in her online memoir a picture with her sister which she captioned “My sister came to London for my PhD viva exam.” After Taiwanese news show host Dennis Peng reported on the deceptive photo caption, Tsai changed the caption to read “A picture with my sister.” It turns out the supposed London photo was really taken in Boston and had nothing to do with her London School of Economics oral PhD examination.
In June 2019, Tsai set off an academic firestorm with the submission of her doctoral dissertation to the LSE Library, thirty-five years late. According to library records, Tsai’s thesis, entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions,” was never submitted as required. Tsai was granted a PhD degree from the University of London for the thesis, which also was not submitted to the Senate House Library, on the strength of her name being on a LSE “pass list” of doctoral candidates. The London School of Economics was not permitted to issue doctoral degrees and Tsai’s advisor, Michael Elliott, only had a Masters degree.
The tardy thesis appears to be a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten entries, including a question mark. According to LSE, a two-member viva panel examined Tsai about the thesis on Sunday, October 16, 1983. Neither LSE nor Tsai will name the two thesis examiners. The University of London also refuses to name the the examiners or the date they approved the thesis. Tsai’s photo with the false caption has been offered by her supporters as proof the viva really happened.
The photo of Tsai with her sister was actually taken sometime in a summer month outside of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. One doesn’t have to be a forensic expert to see that the two sisters are not in London in October. The photo shows the pair in short sleeves, as are other pedestrians. London weather in October tends to be rainy and in the 50-60 F degree range. Also, the auto passing behind Tsai in the photograph has the steering wheel on the left instead of the right, as in London.
Tsai has fought back hard to quiet the storm making a criminal defamation complaint against two of her critics, Dennis Peng and Ho De-fen. Her supporters have managed to delete all reference to the ongoing controversy from Tsai’s Wikipedia page.
Presently there are three different pending appeals to the Information Review Tribunal of the United Kingdom over London School of Economics and the University of London denials of Freedom of Information requests about the PhD viva panel and the LSE Library acquisition of the thesis.
Tsai Ing-wen has not issued a statement about the false photo caption or its correction.
Newly elected Belize Prime Minister John Briceno came into office with a huge victory at the polls and a mandate for change. That required some fast footwork for the Republic of China in-exile which had been closely associated with Briceno’s predecessor. First came a congratulatory Tweet before Briceno was even sworn in. Then there was an evening get-together between Briceno and ROC Ambassador Remus Li-Kuo Chen just two nights after the election, when the diplomat presented Briceno with his official congratulation.
Now, Belize has received a goodwill gift of humanitarian aid from the exiled Chinese government that occupies Taiwan. The ROC gave $100,000 USD for flood relief. The new Minister of State for Finance, Economic Development and Investment, Christopher Coye, accepted the donation. The Ambassador explained the ROC “will continue to work closely with the Government of Belize not only addressing the challenges ahead, but also recovering with greater strength and prosperity.”
The ROC has made it clear that if Belize continues to recognize the exiled Chinese government as the legitimate authority of China, as the ROC Constitution claims, the financial benefits will continue. The ROC lacks sovereignty over Taiwan where it is based and is only recognized by fourteen small nations, most of them islands. The United States installed the ROC on Taiwan, then called Formosa, at the end of World War II as an occupation government of the former Japanese territory. The Cold War froze everything in place and the ROC never left, imposing decades of harsh martial law on the island.
Taiwanese independence advocates are opposed by the United States, China, and the exiled regime still controlling the island. The United States likes the status quo, a “strategic ambiguity” in diplomatic jargon. China wants Taiwan, claiming it to be a renegade province because it is ruled by the ROC and threatens invasion to prevent independence. The ROC only quit throwing islanders in prison for advocating independence in the mid-1980s.
During the first term of President Tsai Ing-wen, China bought off seven of the ROC allies with dollar diplomacy, spending over four billion dollars to gain a change of recognition. The flood relief donation to Belize was a drop in the bucket compared to what might come down the line for Belize if it recognized the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, as the United States and 180 other nations already do. China can put its flag on the moon but can’t get Belize to recognize its existence. That is the formula for dollar diplomacy.
Belize does not have recognize China as China to cash in. All that Belize has to do to fill the coffers is to lead the ROC to believe that it will recognize China and the money will flow. Briceno could say nice things about China to ratchet up the price tag for loyalty to a Cold War fiction. Sending Kareem Musa, the new Minister of National Security, back to China on a junket to attend a conference would be good as gold, as the ROC will seek to counter any diplomatic influence.
Thus far Briceno has been a national figure in politics. Now he is an international figure and is operating in a whole new dimension. Because of its recognition of a government banned from the United Nations, tiny Belize has a bigger voice in world affairs than the Dean Barrow administration was aware. Briceno has been dealt a loaded hand. If he plays his cards right, Belize could be a big winner.
Members of the Freedom for Ed committee braved the cold and rampant virus to hold a news conference at the home of Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts to call for the release of 76 year-old Edward Poindexter from the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Poindexter, imprisoned a half-century for the murder of an Omaha policeman, has steadfastly denied his guilt in the crime.
Poindexter was chairman of Omaha’s chapter of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, a Black Panther Party affiliate chapter in 1970 when he was charged with the murder of Patrolman Larry Minard in a bomb ambush. The confessed bomber, Duane Peak, a fifteen year-old at the time of the bombing, implicated Poindexter in exchange for a deal that kept him out of prison.
David Rice, later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, was a co-defendant and died at the prison in March 2016 while serving a life term. The pair were convicted at a controversial 1971 trial that was marred by contradictory police testimony, perjured testimony by Peak, questionable dynamite evidence, and withheld evidence. At the secret request of the Omaha FBI office, a 911 recording of the killer’s voice luring Minard to his death with a false report of a woman screaming at a vacant house was not analyzed to determine the caller’s identity. The recording was kept from the jury.
Both Poindexter and Rice were targets of the infamous and illegal COINTELPRO operation. The clandestine counterintelligence program targeted thousands of American citizens for their politial activity with actions designed to “disrupt” supposed revolutionary activtity. The Black Panthers became the number one COINTELPRO target with lethal force used against group members. The two men were both on the Security Index detention list maintained by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and subjects of individual counterintelligence actions. Rice was to be ambushed in Carter Lake, Iowa, while returning to Omaha from Eppley Airport with a shipment of the Black Panther newspaper. The FBI plot was foiled when the shipment of newspapers was cancelled.
Poindexter was the target of two bogus anonymous letters to the Black Panther headquarters and several Omaha publications including the Omaha Star. The letters, written by FBI agents, accused Poindexter of falsely stealing donations and working against the Panthers by helping “Whitey’s newspaper,” the Omaha World-Herald.
In December 1969, six days after the FBI-orchestrated attack on the Black Panthers in Chicago that left leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark dead, Hoover ordered the Omaha FBI office to get “imaginative” and remove Poindexter and Rice from the streets. The murder of Minard gave Special Agent in Charge Paul Young the opportunity he needed to satisfy Hoover’s blood lust. Poindexter and Rice were only saved from the electric chair, sought by prosecutors, by the jury during four days of deliberations.
The call for release of Poindexter, elderly, in poor health and at high risk for the Covid virus, has hit a brick wall with the Board of Pardons. The Board, chaired by Governor Ricketts, refuses to put communation requests, including Poindexter’s, ahead of routine pardons for people already out of jail. The backwards priority scheme is a potential death sentence for some inmates.
The elephant in the room is Ricketts’ advocacy for captial punishment. Ricketts led a campaign to restore executions after Nebraska abolished capital punishment. Poindexter’s conviction, even though tainted by COINTELPRO manipulation, should have led to execution in Rickett’s “eye for an eye” mindset. Ricketts is unwilling to investigate that Poindexter was wrongfully convicted, a victim of an FBI directed frame-up. Poindexter’s case calls into question, first-hand, Rickett’s advocacy of execution.
For more information see FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and available in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.
Belize has a new government electing the People’s United Party to office in a landslide election on November 11 that gave PUP twenty-six of thirty-one Parliament seats and a new Prime Minister, John Briceno. Corruption and the sad state of the Belize economy were the driving issues giving the new administration a clear mandate for change.
Belize, a Central American paradise, is one of the few countries that recognizes the exiled Republic of China as a sovereign nation. In doing so, Belize has endorsed the Chinese government that has occupied Formosa, now commonly called Taiwan, since the end of World War II. Seven decades of “strategic ambiguity” imposed by the United States following the surrender of the island by the Japanese have left nearly everyone confused about Formosa’s status. The confusion and unresolved sovereignty has left the many who support Taiwanese independence splintered and powerless.
The People’s Republic of China calls the island “Chinese Taipei” and considers it a breakaway district, much like the Guatemalan claim against Belize. Meanwhile, the administering government calls the island the “Republic of China (Taiwan)”. Each year on October 10th, the ROC buys full page ads in the Belize newspapers to celebrate ROC independence, claiming it to be a Taiwanese holiday. The names Republic of China and Taiwan are used interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. Confusion abounds.
The United States is to blame for the diplomatic mess that has left nearly 24 million people stateless and caught in “political purgatory.” Unfortunately for the Taiwanese, the Cold War still dictates their lack of international standing. Fortunately for Belize, there may be a pot of gold in the dispute.
America imposed Kuomintang troops of the Republic of China on Formosa and installed dictator Chiang Kai-sek’s regime as an occupation government after World War II. After Chiang’s forces lost the Chinese civil war in 1949, the United States allowed Chiang to establish his exiled government on the island. In 1952, when Japan surrendered Formosa the Korean War was raging and no decision was made at the San Francisco Peace Treaty about its sovereignty. The Republic of China was expelled from the United Nations in 1971 and is unable to use the International Court of Justice to which Belize has turned to resolve its border dispute with Guatemala.
Over the years, since 1979 when the United States dropped recognition of the Republic of China, most other countries have followed suit. Neither of the two Chinese governments can tolerate any country’s desire to recognize both because China wants to take Taiwan from the ROC, and the ROC has long wanted to retake the “mainland” it lost in 1949 at the end of China’s civil war.
As the PRC and ROC each lay claim regarding “one China” a dollar diplomacy has arisen as the mainland China has bought out support for the exiled China holed up on Taiwan. Under the current ROC administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, seven countries have dropped recognition of the fiction that the ROC is the legitimate government of China. The switches of loyalty from the exiled China to China itself had a price which provided a windfall bounty for the countries involved.
Now comes Belize and a new government with a strong mandate for change. Belize, already strapped with a huge foreign debt as a consequence of corruption and unpaid loans, has been hammered by the collapse of its tourist economy. China’s obvious dollar diplomacy is not lost any one. The ROC has worked overtime and invested considerable resources in keeping Belize on board, funding agricultural and infrastructure projects all over the country.
Recently a set of commemorative postage stamps was issued by Belize to honor the relationship and to cement the bond. However, things are just a bit more complicated than they seem. First off, almost no one in Belize understands the history of the Republic of China. Worst yet, a large number of Belizians do not know the difference between Taiwanese and Chinese. Most of the grocery stores in Belize are owned or operated by either Chinese of Taiwanese, yet they are all called Chinese. While the two populations each have their own associations and traditions, they do not bother to try and explain the difference to their Belize customers and neighbors and remain largely isolated to their own communities.
The Guatemalan claim against Belize gives a lens from which to view the two China governments. The People’s Republic of China wants to finish its civil war and possess Taiwan. Meanwhile, the Republic of China in-exile wants sovereignty over the island it terrorized for four decades under harsh martial law. Neither China has room for Taiwanese independence. Belizians, who are threatened by Guatemala with loss of territory, should be more sensitive to the aspirations of the people’s yearning for their own national sovereignty. However, decades of misinformation and ambiguity have kept Belize in the dark about the people of Taiwan and their hopes.
Besides the postage stamps and development projects, both Tsai Ing-wen and her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, have made state visits to Belize, bringing an entourage large enough for a jumbo jet. The ROC has kept its recognition by Belize a central figure of its relationship and assistance packages of people and money have regularly flowed. The degree of control over Belize politicians was evidenced last year when PUP Parliament member Kareem Musa was chastised for a trip to China. The now-defeated United Democratic Party made a big deal out of Musa’s junket, condemning the trip. A UDP news release said Musa was “diplomatically irresponsible” and lied about the nature of his visit which he said was personal and at the invitation of the Belize Chinese Association. The president of the association accompanied Musa and acted as translator but denied extending an invitation.
The news release continued: “Аn іnvіtаtіоn tо thіѕ еvеnt wаѕ nеvеr іѕѕuеd tо thе UDР. Аnd іf іt hаd bееn, wоuld hаvе bееn rејесtеd оut оf hаnd. Тhе UDР іѕ ѕtеаdfаѕt аnd unwаvеrіng, bоth аѕ а Раrtу аnd аѕ Gоvеrnmеnt, іn іtѕ ѕuрроrt fоr Таіwаn.” More correctly, it was the UDP support of the ROC and not Taiwan that was unwavering, because the ROC and Taiwan do not mean the same thing. One is war-time occupation government imposed by the United States that never left and the other is an island under some form of colonial rule for four centuries.
The UDP missive against Musa саtеgоrіzеd thе trip аѕ аn ”оutrіght bеtrауаl оf thе nаtіоnаl іntеrеѕt.” Now it is Musa’s party that decides the national interest. A switch of Chinese recognition from the ROC to the PRC would bring a significant and immediate financial reward to Belize. Opening a dialog with the PRC could result in Belize becoming caught in a bidding war for its favor and might increase ROC largess without making any change in diplomatic recognition.
Musa is now the Minister of Home Affairs and a rising star of the People’s United Party and his trip to China might be viewed as a strategic move that could benefit Belize. The ROC is obviously watching and was the first of many international congratulations. Party leader John Briceno was congratulated by Tweet before he was even sworn in. “The government & people of Taiwan congratulate John Briceno & People’s United Party on victory in the Belize elections. We look forward to working closely with the PM-designate going forward.”
Belize is one of only fourteen nations in the world that recognize the Republic of China as a country. The Vatican also recognizes the ROC but is itself not a sovereign country. The United States dropped recognition in 1979 when the ROC was kicked out of the United Nations. Most of the fourteen are island nations, although one of the few ROC supporters is Guatemala which threatens Belize. At the rate that countries have dropped ROC recognition, President Tsai will have fewer than ten allies to count on before her second term ends.
If Belize does switch and recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the government of China and abandons the claim that the exiled ROC is the real government, Prime Minister Briceno can expect a sharp rebuke from the United States. However, Belize has previously stood up to the United States over the recognition of Cuba. There is little reason to expect much response by President Donald Trump, given his current ballot fraud campaign. Joe Biden will be too busy dealing with the mess he has inherited and the raging virus problem to punish Belize for making the same change of recognition that the United States already made.
If Belize strikes up a bidding war between the PRC and the ROC it can expect some significant offers of assistance. China can help shore up a tourist economy by sending large numbers of visitors, as it has done in Taiwan itself. But the real numbers that will tempt Briceno will be dollars, massive foreign aid money. A look at the switches under President Tsai’s watch allows Belize to size up the financial benefits that could be expected to come with a change of Chinese recognition.
In the Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Islands are getting a giant multi-million dollar stadium they had been wanting and other development projects. However, the switch was a partisan issue and has led to internal dissent including talk of one island seceding and seeking its own independence.
Another Pacific island group, Kiribati, wanted to get air service and decided to purchase two big jets at $60 million USD apiece. They scraped together money for one and asked the ROC to pay for the second. The ROC assistance level to Kiribati had been about $10 million dollars USD so President Tsai Ing-wen said it was too expensive. The PRC has not yet bought the second plane but negotiations on the level of assistance are underway. The hard-fought battle of Tarawa was in Kiribati during World War II.
Across the world, off the coast of equatorial Africa, is an island group, Sao Tome & Principe, a former Portuguese colony. This tiny nation got a $146 million USD grant for an airport and other infrastructure developments for making the switch.
On the continent, landlocked Burkina Faso has played the dollar diplomacy game switching back and forth getting around $50 million USD for each switch. The latest change-up was in 2018 when the PRC offered to pick up the ROC’s projects and throw in a new hospital. Negotiations are also underway on Chinese funding of a regional military force where Burkina Faso is a member nation.
In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic dropped the exiled China for mainland China and picked up three billion dollars in loans and investments. Two big projects are a power plant and a mega-port.
In Central America, two countries have made a recent switch, El Salvador and Panama. El Salvador is getting a new stadium, central library, water treatment facility, and other infrastructure projects.
Panama, with its famous canal, is planning a lot of ambitious projects with Chinese money to upgrade the waterway. Talks are proceeding on port upgrades at both ends of the canal, a new set of locks to permit super-tankers, a new bridge across the canal, and a railroad system.
Although there may be long-term consequences of recognizing China, these nations are still in the honeymoon period and the money is flowing. John Briceno will likely get positive reports from the seven countries if he checks on them. Continued recognition of the Republic of China in-exile by Belize may be viewed favorably by some, but to Taiwanese independence advocates who don’t want either China, the Belize postage stamp with two flags is a slap at their desire for a flag of their own.
Taipei District prosecutors in the Republic of China in-exile government ruling Taiwan issued subpoenas for two professors, Ho De-fen and Dennis Peng, for criminal defamation. Over a year ago, September 19, 2019, ROC President Tsai Ing-wen complained to prosecutors about three professors who Tsai said defamed her with comments on her controversial 1984 PhD degree from the London School of Economics. Ho De-fen is a law professor while Dennis Peng teaches media classes and hosts the True Voice of Taiwan internet television program. The third professor, Hwan Lin, lives in the United States and has not yet been served with a court summons.
Ho De-fen, an activist attorney, signaled she is gearing up for a major court battle by refusing to answer the subpoena and appear in court. Dennis Peng took the opposite approach and confessed to criticizing President Tsai’s thesis. Peng told the prosecutors to seek the death penalty because he was completely guilty. Peng, a polished showman, may prove to be a difficult defendant in a case that oozes politics, is riddled with questions, and has an international audience.
Tsai started the controversy in June 2019 when she filed, thirty-five years late, a copy of her 1984 PhD thesis with the London School of Economics Library where she attended school. The tardy thesis entitled “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Action” triggered an academic firestorm with accusations of fraud, unfinished work, and an unearned degree. The 2019 thesis copy appears to be a draft document with footnote issues, pagination problems, and handwritten marks including a question mark. Tsai held fast and both LSE and the University of London, which actually awarded Tsai her degree, stuck by the story that Tsai honestly earned her diploma.
The thesis controversy briefly became an issue in President Tsai’s reelection campaign but died down after she won a second term. Critics of Tsai continued to question the events of 1983-84 in London that led to her degree. Freedom of Information requests flowed to both schools which continued to refuse to answer questions about the thesis. The University of London presently refuses to name the two thesis examiners who approved the thesis and will not even confirm if consideration was given to Tsai’s Masters degree. The London School of Economics refuses to give up internal emails about the thesis.
The refusals to answer questions or disclose records of the thesis viva examination, purportedly held on a Sunday in October 1983, led to complaints to the United Kingdom Information Commissioner. At least four complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office about the thesis have been made by various people. Three thesis-related lawsuits are pending before the Information Review Tribunal where international information requests are bottle-necked while the court reviews its stance on the territoriality of complainants.
One of the ICO decisions, issued September 16, 2020, and now before the Tribunal, ridiculed critics of President Tsai’s thesis and contained the statement: ”The Commissioner also notes that President Tsai has filed a defamation suit against individuals who have questioned the authenticity of her PhD and thesis.”
Taipei District prosecutors waited a year to act on President Tsai’s complaint raising an unavoidable question, why? The ICO decision, where Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, upheld Tsai’s right to withhold information about the thesis relied on Tsai’s “defamation suit” which had not yet been prosecuted. If prosecutors had not hauled Peng and ordered Ho into court on October 14, the ICO statement of September would continue to be false. Although prosecutors cannot be expected to admit they finally acted because of the ICO decision in the United Kingdom, the timing of the decision suggests President Tsai may have been forced to push for prosecution.
Dennis Peng, open and defiant, used his court appearance to carry on his running battle with Tsai over the authenticity of her London School of Economics thesis. “Tsai planned to use the courts from the beginning merely as a means to intimidate. Her first goal was to put pressure on her opposition. Second, Tsai took legal action right before the presidential election last year as a means to buffer the damage Thesisgate would inflict on her campaign. I believe Tsai knows that she can’t win the suit she filed.”
“I would like to remind Tsai and judicial officials that our claims against the president are based on evidence. We have proof to back up our claims. The results of our findings go beyond a shadow of a doubt. Tsai’s doctoral thesis and her degree are faked.”
“I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication teaching at the National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism for 20 years and served as its director. I have advised on over 100 theses, and am thoroughly familiar with the rules and standards they entail.”
“I have continuously questioned Tsai’s thesis on the True Voice of Taiwan talk show for over 450 episodes in the name of justice. Over the past year and a half, the True Voice of Taiwan has accumulated 86 million views and reached 660 million people. It most certainly has affected Tsai’s reputation. The True Voice of Taiwan exists independently of government oversight. It poses important questions and does not cater to the ruling administration’s every whim.”
“I called the prosecutor’s office on November 12, 2019, to request a court date. For my crimes listed above, I am asking that the prosecutor sentence me to death. If that is what it takes for this case to be seen through, so be it. For the greater good of this country.”
Hwan Lin, the third professor, provided a video statement to a news conference in Taipei called by Peng following his court appearance. Lin noted he had not been subpoenaed despite authoring a fifty-page report questioning Tsai’s thesis. Lin believes that his residency in the United States has kept him out of the courtroom. Lin is very emphatic that he is unafraid of Tsai’s defamation lawsuit as all his remarks are based on his close examination of the thesis itself. Lin is convinced the only reason he was threatened with litigation by Tsai was to scare him into submission and silence him.
President Tsai refuses to name the thesis examiners who purportedly approved the thesis in October 1983, although she has said one was a law professor and the other an economist. Tsai’s advisor, before she withdrew from LSE, was Michael Elliott who lacked a PhD himself. At the time, LSE was not qualified to issue doctoral degrees and the University of London granted diplomas to those students whose name appeared on a pass list. Thus far very little oversight of Tsai’s studies have been revealed by either school beyond her name on the pass list.
Like the fable where two weeds grow for every one picked, questions about Tsai’s thesis continue to multiply keeping the controversy in court in both Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Tsai Ing-wen has opened a Pandora’s Box. Ho De-fen’s defense strategy is expected to be a legal challenge over the authority of the prosecutors to silence Tsai’s critics. Dennis Peng has made his defense quite clear, in a defamation case it will be Tsai’s thesis that is on trial.