KAOHSIUNG CITY (Taiwan News) — Earlier this week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expelled three Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporters from the country.
Their crime? A headline in an op-ed article which rubbed someone in the CCP the wrong way.
“China is the Real Sick Man of Asia,” said the headline, offering a perfectly rational summary of a country at the heart of the Wuhan virus pandemic, with millions of people in lockdown and an economy in freefall.
“The editors used such a racially discriminatory title, triggering indignation and condemnation among the Chinese people and the international community,” squealed a spokesperson for the CCP’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs without offering a single shred of evidence that anyone outside his office was ‘indignant’. He also, somewhat bizarrely, claimed the article was racist.
Indeed, given that the WSJ website is blocked across the country, it is difficult to understand how anyone in China could even be aware of such an article, much less be offended by it.
This is the first time since 1998 that Western journalists have actually had their permits to work in China revoked. Many have not had them renewed, but to actually revoke them suggests the communist regime in China is in full-blown panic mode.
In Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, such irrational responses from CCP officials have become a regular occurrence.
The Czech Republic has become an increasingly strong ally of Taiwan in recent times. Prague is now twinned with Taipei, and the Czech government has spoken out on Taiwan’s behalf several times, most recently to urge their inclusion in the upcoming World Health Assembly.
China's reaction has been predictably peevish. Shanghai flounced off in a huff and renounced its links to Prague after the tie-up with Taipei.
But perhaps their most disproportionate response yet has been to a proposed visit to Taiwan by the former speaker of the Czech Senate, Jaroslav Kubera. Mr. Kubera, who was a senior figure in Czech politics but not in government, sadly passed away in January before he could make his visit.
But the brazen threats and anger the CCP threw at the Czech government almost beggars belief. They essentially promised economic reprisals on a huge scale if the visit were to go ahead, with Czech companies to be thrown out of the Chinese market.
It is well known that the CCP uses economic threats and bullying to get its way. But such discourse is not usually conducted in quite such unsubtle terms and almost never in the public domain.
Their fear, no doubt, is that the rest of the world will follow the Czech Republic’s lead and begin to treat Taiwan more like the sovereign nation-state that it is. Worse, they fear the prospect that regime change in China could be close at hand.
This scares them because, at the best of times, there is little they could do about it. Right now, with China and its economy paralyzed by the Wuhan virus crisis, they would be helpless.
Of course, the propaganda machinery continues to pump out positivity and make the regime’s fraudulent figures and claims of virus control seem more credible. But it is actions like the expulsion of the WSJ journalists and the disproportionate response to a visit by a mid-ranking Czech politician that reveals their true mindset.
This is a regime in turmoil faced with a crisis of its own making. For a totalitarian government used to having absolute control over every aspect of people’s lives, it has, for once, lost control of its situation, and it has no idea how to deal with that.
Like a cornered animal that has been badly wounded, it has now resorted to instinct, lashing out at anyone and anything it believes poses a threat.
Any rational judgment has been lost, and the CCP is now a regime teetering on the brink. If the will is there, this could be the moment when we could deliver real and lasting change not just to Taiwan, but to Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, East Turkestan, and even the people of China themselves.