China announced sanctions against seven Taiwanese officials, including Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, labeling them “diehard separatists”.
Other Taiwanese political figures on the list include Koo Li-hsiung, Tsai Chi-chang, Ker Chien-ming, Lin Fei-fan, Chen Jiau-hua and Wang Ting-yu, said a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. All but one are from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
The sanctioned politicians and their family members are banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. Their affiliated institutions and companies are also prohibited from participating in activities on the mainland.
The named politicians “will be held accountable for life under the law,” with additional punitive measures to be decided, according to the release.
Hsiao Bi-khim, who has been Taiwan’s representative to the US since July 2020, was accused of helping to push US arms sales to the island and more recently of promoting the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In addition to the seven, two other well-known Taiwanese political figures – President of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Huang Yu-lin and Secretary-General of the International Cooperation and Development Fund Timothy Hsiang – are also banned from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau.
Last November, China first imposed an entry ban on Taiwan’s Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, saying they were part of “an extremely small minority of hardline Taiwanese separatists who caused extreme injury … to the fundamental interests of the Chinese race.”
As the sanctions list expanded to ten names, the Taiwan office spokesman was quoted by Xinhua as warning that it could grow further and “anyone who deliberately challenges the law will be severely punished.”
It is unclear how the punitive measures will affect the Taiwanese politicians, as they are not known to have traveled or done business in mainland China.
On August 5, Beijing announced sanctions against Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her visit to Taiwan, which China condemned as a “cruel provocation.”
When asked about the decision a few days later, Pelosi laughed it off, saying, “Who cares?”
“It’s random to me, without any relevance whatsoever,” she said, according to Reuters.
During Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, China imposed an entry ban managers of four Taiwanese companies which had made donations to two foundations — the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the International Cooperation and Development Fund — that Beijing deemed “aggressively engaging in pro-independence separatist activities.”
The four companies are solar cell maker Speedtech Energy Co., Hyweb Technology Co., medical device maker Skyla and cold chain car fleet management company SkyEyes. They are also not allowed to do business with any mainland companies.
China’s ‘information war’
In another development, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has denied claims by the Chinese military that its aircraft had flown over Penghu, one of Taiwan’s main outlying islands, during an airstrike on Monday.
The Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) published on Monday a video on WeChat purported to show the Penghu Islands as seen from a military aircraft at relatively close range.
Three types of aircraft were seen in the video: a Shaanxi Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, an SU-30 and a J-16 fighter jet.
The Penghu Islands are located on the eastern side of the Taiwan Strait, only 50 kilometers from the main island of Taiwan.
The PLA sent 30 aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Monday, half of which crossed the median line that divides the strait, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.
Taiwan’s ministry said only four Chinese J-16s crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, but they did not come close to the Penghu Islands. No Shaanxi aircraft were deployed.
The video released by the PLA Eastern Theater Command was clearly “Chinese cognitive warfare,” said Maj. Gen. Tung Pei-lun, the Taiwan Air Force’s deputy chief of operations.
“China used the exaggerated tricks of cognitive warfare to show how close it was to Penghu – which is not true,” Tung told reporters at a briefing in Taipei.
Some Taiwanese military experts, such as Shen Ming-Shih, acting deputy director of the Institute of National Defense and Security Research, said the PLA likely used a powerful camera lens to film Penghu from a long distance.
“The Penghu Islands are the most important islands in the Taiwan Strait,” Shen said.
“If China succeeded in occupying Penghu, the PLA could launch an effective military operation against Taiwan.”
But the Taiwanese military maintains a large air defense missile battery and radar system on Penghu, the analyst said, adding that the Taiwanese air force and navy should be able to deter an invading Chinese force.
China has recently stepped up its disinformation campaign and cyber attacks as part of cognitive operations to attack public morality and create confusion in Taiwan.