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Taiwan KMT recall campaign ‘hateful’: Sankei Shimbun Taipei director

Yaita Akio praises nation as 'Pure Land,' says recent recall vote 'blow to Taiwan's values'

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Sankei Shimbun Taipei Director Yaita Akio. 

Sankei Shimbun Taipei Director Yaita Akio.  (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Yaita Akio, the director of Sankei Shimbun’s Taipei branch, has identified three lines of defense for Taiwan's security, adding the nation has become a "Pure Land" for democratic speech, referring to the Buddhist paradise for attaining enlightenment.

Yaita had participated in a human rights seminar on Saturday (Oct. 23) discussing political developments in Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. During the meeting, there was reportedly a heated argument.

In an interview with Taiwan News, the director said that there were indeed direct questions and criticisms at the seminar on Saturday. However, he added it was difficult to say whether it was a legitimate “disturbance” to the overall goals of the discussion.

He said that conferences covering sensitive topics such as Tibetan, Xinjiang, Mongolian, Hong Kong, and Taiwan independence have always been Beijing's biggest concern. Yaita pointed out that in the past these human rights seminars could be held in Hong Kong, but now it is impossible.

Thus, scholars have moved to the "Pure Land" of Taiwan, he said. China's hand will inevitably follow, and if it infiltrates academic circles in Taiwan, Taipei will no longer be able to host such meetings, Yaita said.

Therefore, having a safe space for democratic speech like Taiwan’s is “very important," the director wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, reiterating his "three lines of defense for Taiwan's security.”

The first line is in Beijing, he said, adding that only when China has achieved freedom of speech and democratic elections can Taiwan be truly safe. Therefore, Taiwanese should be more active in promoting China's democratization.

The second line is in the Taiwan Strait, where not only Taiwan but other foreign countries including the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. are closely monitoring developments, Yaita said. If there is a conflict in the strait, Japan will not sit idly by and watch.

The director said the third line is also the last line of defense and is in Taiwan. It involves finding ways to prevent China from infiltrating Taiwanese society. This defense strategy is extremely important to the East Asian democracy, he said.

His Facebook post emphasized that people familiar with Beijing’s infiltration tactics in Taiwan can see that the vicious verbal attacks on Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) were not personal. Instead, they were really attacks on Taiwan’s local values, Yaita said.

He predicted the next “battlefield” will be Taipei’s Wanhua District as the Kuomintang (KMT) seek to remove independent legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐). "Taiwan can no longer afford to lose again," Yaita said.

He described Chen’s removal as a “hateful” campaign. It is the KMT and China who are most pleased with the successful recall, Yaita said. The KMT-led recall was actually a major blow to Taiwan’s local values, the director said, adding that voters did not realize how important the matter was.