China speaks in tongues over Taiwan

East Asia Forum
Date: 3 July 2020
By: Nicholas Chiu, Taipei

While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bellows at Hong Kong, it is relatively low-key on cross-strait relations. Three economic signals and a pair of political statements make Beijing’s tone down of threats against Taiwan perceptible.

First was the reintroduction of Chinese smartphones in Taiwan. Vivo, a Chinese tech firm, is set to introduce two smartphone models into the Taiwanese market. The comeback was made after the National Communications Commission (NCC) of Taiwan started restricting technology devices containing ‘sovereignty-degrading’ substance in November 2019.

Passing the NCC audit implies that Vivo is willing to erase terms such as ‘Chinese–Taiwan’ on its products. Such involvement would have been unimaginable in 2018 when Beijing forced international airlines to purge all references to Taiwan as a separate country. Though Vivo suddenly halted its sales on 1 June 2020 due to ‘technical’ problems, Chinese authorities and media remain unusually quiet.

Next was the Chinese government’s announcement of economic bonuses for Taiwanese businesses before the second-term inauguration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on 20 May, 2020. Defying numerous predictions, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council — the mainland administrative agency responsible for implementing policies related to Taiwan — rolled out 11 economic incentives for Taiwanese entrepreneurs in China on 15 May.

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