Tag Archives: Beijing

Taiwan flag causes strange U.S. protest

There may be no stranger geopolitical relationship in the world than the one with Taiwan and, well, virtually the rest of the planet.

Consider what happened recently in Washington, D.C.

Some individuals at Taiwan’s unofficial “embassy” complex raised the Taiwanese flag over the building, causing the State Department to complain that the flag violates a long-standing U.S.-Taiwan agreement against the display of the flag.


This is a big deal? Well, yes — for reasons that drive me nuts.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Taiwan five times dating back to the late fall of 1989. It is without question one of the world’s most vibrant countries. Its economy flourishes. Its culture is rich and vibrant. It has a military that pound-for-pound is one of the stoutest in the world.

But the country has diplomatic relations with virtually no one on Earth. Why? Because most countries — such as the United States — recognize only one “China,” and that would be the People’s Republic of China, which since 1949 has claimed Taiwan as a “renegade province.”

Taiwan’s government fled to the island off the mainland coast when the communists won a bloody civil war. Mao Tse-Tung took power in Beijing; Chiang Kai-Shek did the same in Taipei.

For decades, the world recognized the Taipei government. Then in 1971, the United Nations voted to admit the PRC into its body; it expelled Taiwan. In 1978, the United States offered diplomatic recognition to Beijing and kicked Taipei out of its embassy.

The nations have had a vigorous cultural and economic relationship ever since. Taiwan’s “embassy” is in a luxury estate, but the inhabitants are prohibited from flying the Taiwanese flag in public.

Thus, the State Department has become angry.

Well, the folks at State should get over it. The presence of the flag will do nothing by itself to change the relationship between the nations. As for how China would react, well, the Chinese aren’t going to invade Taiwan or attack the United States of America.

It’s still a vital one at every level except the one that counts.

I should note that almost no one in Taiwan considers himself or herself to be “Chinese.” Virtually the entire population today was born on the island. They consider themselves to be Taiwanese. Yes, they are ethnic Chinese, but the nation state has forged an identity all its own.

The task for them and for others around the world is to persuade the communists who run the mainland to recognize Taiwan for what it has become: a flourishing independent nation.


Soon, attention to turn to that other crash

You can rest assured about this: The moment the grief subsides somewhat over the loss of an AsiaAir jetliner in the Java Sea we’re going to turn our attention — once again — to the enduring mystery of Malaysia Air Flight 370.

AsiaAir Flight 8501’s wreckage was spotted almost immediately, as one would expect. The grim task of recovering victims and debris commenced. High-tech equipment will locate the black boxes soon on the sea floor to find evidence of what happened to the plane that crashed less than a week ago.

But … what about Malaysia Air Flight 370?

It disappeared after it took off on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Crews have found nothing. Not a trace of the Boeing 777 has been spotted anywhere. More than 200 souls are now presumed dead. But the families of those aboard have zero closure.

I continue to believe that MH 370 went into the drink somewhere in the vast Indian Ocean. The goofy conspiracy theories do not hold up. The plane wasn’t hijacked and flown to some lost island.

As for the other nutcase scenarios, not one of explains how a plane so large can disappear without a trace. Was it shot down by some government’s air force? No. Debris would be found, on land or in the water. And no government can keep a secret from a hyper-curious public.

The fate of one air disaster contrasting with the unsolved nature of the other, though, does cause one to wonder: What in the world happened to Malaysia Air Flight 370?

Malaysians have lost world's trust

Is it me or has the Malaysian government lost the trust of a curious world that wants to know about the fate of that missing jetliner?

I’m beginning to disbelieve almost anything that government is saying about the what it thinks happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 after it took off March 8. It disappeared. It had been headed due north from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Searchers have been looking due south, in the Indian Ocean, off the Australia coast.

Through it all, the Malaysian government has made a mess of the information it is supposed to tell people about what might have happened to the Boeing 777 and the 230 people on board.


The search area has been shifted, expanded, shrunk and re-expanded. The families of those missing and presumed dead have been pushed through an emotional sausage grinder. The Malaysian government informed the family members via text message that their loved ones likely are dead. Some members of the transportation ministry have actually said they’re holding out hope they’ll find survivors, giving grieving family members reason to hold onto the faintest of hopes in a hopeless situation.

The search has become the costliest and most extensive aviation disaster operation in world history.

It’s understandable that the search is being done in a treacherous, deep and rarely navigated waters. Everyone should grasp the difficulty in finding wreckage 3 miles below the surface of some rough ocean water.

It’s just that the Malaysian government — which is supposed to have taken responsibility for telling the world all it knows about the tragedy — has seemed to incapable of sending out consistent information about what it knows and when it knew it.

Australian underwater search devices have been deployed. They’ve found nothing so far. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his government won’t stop looking until teams find the wreckage and recover those flight recorder devices.

That should provide some tiny measure of comfort for family members waiting to know what happened to their loved ones. They don’t seem to be getting it from the Malaysians.

Change in sign-off adds to confusion

Faith in the Malaysian government’s ability to communicate clearly what might have happened to a still-missing Boeing 777 jetliner might be about to vanish into thin air.

Consider this: The government now has changed its findings into what allegedly was said aboard the Malaysian Air Flight 370 moments before it went silent and then apparently crashed into the Indian Ocean.


Someone on the flight deck had supposedly said “All right, good night” on March 8. Not so, says the government, which issued a statement Monday that said the more formal final sign off was, “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”

Why is this important?

From where I sit, if the government cannot get straight something so simple and declarative as the crew’s final message — which had been received by the control tower in Kuala Lumpur — then its ability to transmit any information to the grieving families and the rest of the world is now in serious doubt.

Malaysian authorities have been pounded by critics over the way it has handled this tragic event. It notified family members via text message that the plane likely was lost and that all 239 people aboard were “lost.” They have been slow to inform China — given that two-thirds of the people aboard MH 370 were Chinese nationals — of the progress of the search, which has angered the government in Beijing. They changed the search area to a spot 700 miles north of where they thought the plane went down, saying that it traveled faster than earlier thought, burned fuel more quickly and went down sooner than they had thought.

Now this.

Satellite pictures have indicated possible debris from the aircraft southwest of Perth, Australia. Several nations have deployed sophisticated equipment and trained personnel to look for the jetliner. They’re trying to locate the flight data recorder by listening for “pings” that authorities now believe may cease in a few days when the batteries expire.

Meanwhile, all this stumble-bumming around has created a climate for crackpot conspiracy theories that do nothing but add to waiting family members’ unimaginable grief.

Time is running out.