Big Brother is Bullying Everyone
Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
As far as I can recall, the word ‘country' can refer to various entities; it can be a state or nation as in 'What Asian countries have you visited?' It can be the people of a district, state, or nation: 'The whole country backed the president in her decision.' It can be the land of one's birth or citizenship: 'Levern made us all proud of our country.' Or it can simply refer to rural districts, including farmland, and other sparsely populated areas, as opposed to cities or towns: 'She lives in the country outside Laborie.'
But for the country that is Mainland China the word means something else and that country is flexing its muscles to make sure the whole world understands the word their way. China is pressuring airlines around the world to toe the Mainland's political line. Airlines such as the Australian carrier Qantas, and U.S. carriers American Airlines and United Airlines have reportedly received letters bearing threats against them if they do not stop referring to Taiwan as a country. The letters from China's Civil Aviation Authority says the companies will be referred to the relevant cyber-security authorities if they do not comply.
Now what are Mainland China's relevant cyber-security authorities, and what could be the consequences of being referred to them? In these times of Internet hacking by international agencies I cannot but feel an icy chill go down my spine at these threats. Imagine a planeload of passengers travelling from Sydney in Australia to Taipei in Taiwan on a Qantas Airbus or Boeing airliner, disappearing over the ocean as a result of the intervention of Mainland China's cyber-security authorities! We all know that computers guide planes these days from push back, to taxying, to take-off and landing. How difficult would it be for some murderous technician to hack into a plane's autopilot and cause it to change course or simply disappear without trace, leaving no clues behind?
In January, China demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website. We are all well aware of Mainland China's obsession with Taiwan's global recognition and success in matters of trade, business, research and innovation, so much so that the delicate diplomatic dancing of switching and stealing partners hardly matters any more. Taiwan quietly goes about her business of forging alliances, establishing trade links, and improving the world, despite the snapping of Chinese dogs at her heels.
We all remember the Malaysia Airlines 370, a scheduled international passenger flight that disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Malaysia to its destination in China. The crew last communicated with air traffic control around 38 minutes after take-off when the flight was over the South China Sea. The aircraft was lost from radar screens minutes later, but was tracked by military radar for another hour, deviating westwards from its planned flight path. All 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard were lost. This massive failure of aviation technology could, some might think, be the result of some meddling by an unknown cyber-security authority. And that's all I have to say about that. But it's not only airlines that are affected; Marriott experienced the same issues earlier this year when the hotel chain was forced to shut down its app and website for a week as financial punishment after sending an email that listed Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as countries.
Part of China's motive, it seems, is to ensure that international recognition for Taiwan doesn't grow. If this is so, then it is failing miserably. Taiwan, a country of ‘only' 23 million inhabitants, already occupies a position among the top 25 economies of the world. China is scared, quite simply, of Taiwan's economic might and is jealous of the admiration shown to her by the global community, quite apart from the petty niceties of diplomatic recognition that beach vendors can buy and sell at will. The Peoples Republic of China fears most of all that if companies and countries officially recognize the democratic island of Taiwan as its own country, China's claim to rule diminishes, which is why the Chinese Bully continues its campaign to bribe small island states to sell their pride and dignity for a sometimes huge handful of silver and dollars and change their allegiance from Taiwan to China.
In a statement, the White House said the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration had sent a letter to 36 foreign and U.S. air carriers demanding they change how they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. In the novel 1984, published in 1948, Orwell introduced a Big Brother who watched over all that his subjects did, including their private lives and thoughts. The Peoples Republic of China still strives to be the Big Brother in some fantasy world in which every nation, every country, bows down before it. I think it might be time for the Citizens of the World to don T-shirts proclaiming Taiwan Pride, or if they want to avoid upsetting the bully, Taipei Pride. What a farce the whole thing is!