Taiwan President Stops in U.S. as Relations Warm, Angering China


In China, however, Ms. Tsai elicits hateful commentary on a level that perhaps only the Dalai Lama can match. Shortly after she visited a Los Angeles location of the Taiwanese coffee chain 85C, the Chinese internet erupted with anger, calling for a boycott of the chain’s several hundred locations in China, its largest market.

That day, 85C’s parent company, Gourmet Master, whose stock trades on Taiwan’s exchange, lost $120 million in share value. The company promptly apologized and expressed support for peaceful unification.

Many Taiwanese were upset by the company caving in to Chinese pressure, with some also calling for a boycott of the chain. Polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of people in Taiwan, a multiparty democracy, oppose being absorbed into China’s one-party, authoritarian rule.

The episode is the latest example of the Chinese government using its grip on the country’s enormous market to pressure corporations into serving its political agenda. In recent months, companies including international airlines, hotels and other brands have begun referring to Taiwan as a province of China in response to threats from Beijing. The White House called China’s tactics “Orwellian nonsense,” but did little else to back up American corporations.

If China fines United States companies or restricts their access to Chinese markets for refusing to call Taiwan a province, then the Trump administration should retaliate in kind against Chinese companies, said William Stanton, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the unofficial United States diplomatic presence there.

“China’s trying to make both Taiwan and the government of Tsai Ing-wen persona non grata throughout the world,” he said. “There’s just no end to it.”

Bonnie Glaser, senior Asia adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Trump administration’s approval for Ms. Tsai’s visits to the Reagan library and the Johnson Space Center in Houston showed that “they trusted she would not say or do anything that would increase cross-strait tensions.”

Source : Nytimes