Bad Taiwan Takes: MintPress on the Taiwanese Government “Working with the FBI to Prosecute Chinese Americans”

by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Screenshot

A RECENT ARTICLE by MintPress proves a bizarre attempt to frame the Taiwanese government as actively contributing to the political persecution of Chinese Americans in the US. The article purports to be based on wires that MintPress claims to have obtained.

Certainly, it is correct that Chinese Americans in the US face discrimination, targeting, and harassment in the present age of tensions between the US and China. This is bound up with, though not only, because of the wave of anti-Asian hate that erupted in the US after the COVID-19 pandemic, with Asians blamed as somehow being the source of the pandemic because of COVID-19’s origins in China. Scientists of Chinese descent faced targeting in particular under “the China Initiative,” because of the framing of them as potentially acting as proxies for China, or seeking to steal trade secrets for China.

Taiwanese Americans themselves potentially stand to be caught up in this backlash against Chinese Americans. In spite of the longstanding geopolitical tensions between Taiwan and China, given China’s territorial claims over Taiwan, members of the American government or the media have sometimes proven unable to distinguish Taiwanese Americans from Chinese Americans. A case in point would be mistaken initial reports of the 2022 Laguna Woods shooting in which the shooter was first framed as a Chinese man attacking a Taiwanese congregation. This was a misreading of sub-ethnic categories in Taiwan between waishengren and benshengren. Indeed, some Taiwanese in the US actually have legal documentation that refers to them as being from China.

DPP presidential candidate William Lai. Photo credit: William Lai/Facebook

Nevertheless, the MintPress report would be an attempt to magnify reports by the Taiwanese government pointing to Chinese influence operations, and suggest that the Taiwanese government highlights this only to abet anti-Chinese racism in the US. The article raises, for example, how Taiwanese cables pointed to coordination between protests by Chinese diaspora against President Tsai Ing-wen’s past stopovers in the US and the Chinese consulate to suggest collusion to suggest this is the Taiwanese government “colluding with the feds.”

Indeed, the cables MintPress claims to have obtained bring up that the Taiwanese government is interested in obtaining evidence about these groups, so as to persecute Chinese Americans, never mind that there are cases in which organized crime groups thought to have direct connections with the Chinese state have sought to physically assault Taiwanese, Hongkongers, and others. Nor does MintPress ever raise that China surveils its own nationals abroad, operating overseas police stations to target Chinese dissidents, and to politically harass them. Certainly, diaspora in the US face a double threat–that of surveillance and targeting both by the US and by the Chinese state.

The MintPress article frames the issue as though it were only the US that is carrying out acts of persecution. but the worldview of the article should be rather self-evident, with the framing of Tsai Ing-wen and William Lai of the DPP as dangerous provocateurs and pro-independence radicals, and a lengthy gloss on the Chinese Civil War which depicts the KMT as dangerous nationalists opposed by the heroic CCP, never mind that both parties are, in fact, Chinese nationalist parties.

Otherwise, the MintPress piece tries to suggest that Taiwanese diplomatic representatives in the US have sought to cultivate ties with diplomatic, political, and media figures to further Taiwan’s agenda–never mind that this is precisely what diplomatic representation does. China aims to further its image and agenda in the US, as does Taiwan, as does any other country. In this way, much of the MintPress article is rather extrapolated, framing mundane actions as a form of nefarious activity by the Taiwanese government.

That is, the MintPress piece accuses the Taiwanese government of funding bankrolling coverage of itself through funding of think tanks. But this is an activity that many nations–including China–engage in. One wonders why MintPress finds such an issue with foreign nations funding think tanks or media, when China itself funds China Daily, CGTN, and other English-language sources, and has been accused of ties to third-party publications that echo and localize the Chinese state narrative for domestic American audiences.

All this proves the usual American insularity about the world from the left which idealizes any force that opposes the US. Oftentimes, such individuals are just looking for an alternative to the US empire, but they will justify activities by the force that they prop up as an alternative to the US that are uncannily like America’s own behavior as justified. One notes, after all, how China drew from the US War on Terror’s rhetoric on terrorism in order to justify the imprisonment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang on the basis of their religion, how it carries out soft power and influence operations worldwide much as the US does, and that it itself surveils and harasses Chinese Americans and other members of the diaspora.