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Taiwan: Will it retain independence or be taken over?

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After the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, there continues over there a painful period of adjustment and as we hear, grave shortages of essentials to the general population. There also seem to be Afghans eligible to migrate to the US awaiting permission to go. The G7 has promised help and President Biden specifically stated much financial and other aid would come to the people of Afghanistan but through international aid agencies.

The current hot spot of probable conflict and growing tension is Taiwan, and yes, if inflamed, could be much worse than the Afghan conflagration. On October 10, President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, insisted in her speech at the National Day celebrations in Taipei, that Taiwan would not succumb to Chinese dominance nor join mainland China as a unified nation. Tsai emphasized “resilience, unity, diversity, competitiveness, and renewed confidence and pledged to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty and denounced unprecedented challenges brought by China’s recent military coercion.”

At the same time, China staged a massive show of force in celebration of the 110th anniversary of the revolution that established the first Chinese Republic. Chinese President Xi Jinping made it almost militantly clear that China calls for “Taiwan’s peaceful reconciliation with China in Taiwan’s best interests.” He urged the island state to “stand on the right side of history.” This statement was denounced by Taiwan’s President as a “distortion of history” and called on Beijing to stop threatening the island.

In The Island of October 13, Gwynne Dyer gives a fine analysis of the problem and says that China will baulk at the prospect of invading Taiwan because it will face blocking of all sea routes on which its trade is totally dependent. Western nations, Japan, Korea, even India will not stand by and merely watch a military invasion by Chinese forces of independent Taiwan.

Support for Taiwan

The G7 at the end of its meeting in Cornwall in June 2021, affirmed the “importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and their strong opposition to any “unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions.” China immediately denounced G7 for interfering. “For the Chinese Communist Party, the status of Taiwan is a sensitive topic. Together with Tibet, and the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989, foreign visitors to China are routinely advised to avoid any discussion of it. To China’s leaders, Taiwan is an indivisible part of the ‘big Motherland’, a ‘renegade province’ that will eventually, by persuasion, coercion or force if necessary, be ‘reunited’ with mainland China. Alternative views are firmly suppressed.”

Taiwan, smaller in area than the Netherlands, is considered to be on par with Australia in its economy and population. “For a country that in 1950 was poor, overwhelmingly agricultural and exported labour to the Philippines, this has been a huge achievement and one that owes nothing to China.”

History

Reading about Taiwan was very interesting. That island was originally named Formosa, which dates from 1542 when Portuguese sailors sighted an uncharted island and named it ‘Ilha Formosa’ – beautiful island. In 1625, the Dutch East India Company established a base in Taiwan.

The Ming rulers in China were increasingly preoccupied with a growing threat from the Manchu, or Qing, to the north. In 1644, Beijing fell and the Ming dynasty ended, succeeded by the Qing who ruled Formosa too. In 1911, the Qing Dynasty collapsed and that date is when the Republic of China in the island was established.

In 1861, Great Britain opened the first consulate on the island and “early consular reports are peppered with frustration at the unwillingness or outright refusal of government representatives on the island to adhere to agreements set down in bilateral treaties.”

The Japanese had controlled Taiwan for 50 years (1895-1945) with Tokyo sending 19 governors general to rule Taiwan. Upon the defeat of Japan in August 1945, Chiang Kai-shek, who was head of China sent troops and administrators to take control of Taiwan. “The Taiwanese had been expecting liberation from Japanese rule to lead to self-government, not the imposition of another regime. The move was far from popular, dissatisfaction only compounded by Chiang’s handling of it. Corruption, nepotism and minor altercations grew, and hardly any locals spoke Mandarin, yet overnight this was imposed as the official language. Not surprisingly, resentment grew while the economy collapsed, culminating in major riots at the end of February 1947. These were brutally put down. By some estimates as many as 20,000 Taiwanese lost their lives.”

Beginnings of modern Taiwan

Chiang was an ally to the Brits and Americans, helping them to defeat Japan in WW II. Then came the civil war with the communists led by Mao Zedong and Chiang’s Nationalists were defeated in 1948. The next year his government and army retreated to Taiwan where he presided over a tumultuous period of martial law, social reforms and economic prosperity. He was President of the Republic of China for five six-year terms and also Director General of the Kuomintang until his death in 1975. It was a rival government to China and the world’s nations had to choose between the two. Most recognised mainland China. “Just 15 nations, most of them small island states in the Caribbean or Pacific, have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.” Between 1946 and 1949 an estimated one million mainland Chinese fled to Taiwan, whose own population in 1940 had been less than six million.

After Chiang died in 1975, his son and successor, Chiang Ching-kuo, sensing the changing tide of global opinion in favour of the People’s Republic of China, took the first steps towards the introduction of democratic government. Martial law was lifted in 1987 and in 1996 the Taiwanese were finally able to choose their own president through direct elections. Since then, democratic governance has taken firm root and the present President is the fourth and first woman to head the nation. Opinion polls show a growing majority consider themselves Taiwanese, not Chinese; proud of their country’s history and identity.

Mao Zedong, once he came into power, had aimed at bringing Taiwan under the party’s control as part of the ‘Motherland’. “Mao might have succeeded, too, had he not intervened in support of Kim Il-sung in the Korean War in 1950, prompting the US to move to support Chiang on Taiwan.”

The San Francisco Conference of 1951 was convened to conclude the peace agreement with Japan and agree on the post-war order in Asia. “Although Japan renounced its claim to Taiwan, with the US and UK recognising different Chinese governments, both of which were excluded from the conference, no agreement was reached and a decision on the status of Taiwan was shelved. As far as Britain was concerned, de jure sovereignty over Taiwan remained undetermined, while the US recognised Chiang’s Republic of China in Taipei as the legitimate Chinese government, a position that only changed in 1979.”

Taiwanese companies are among the biggest investors, exporters and employers in China. “The rapprochement reached its pinnacle in 2015 in Singapore, with the first ever meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan. The move was widely interpreted in Taiwan as an attempt to boost the prospects of a ‘China-friendly’ president in the election due in early 2016; which misfired badly. After Tsai Ing-wen’s victory, China largely cut off official contact and stepped up its threats and intimidation against the island. In 2020 Tsai was re-elected in a landslide, her success widely attributed to Taiwanese reactions to China’s clampdown in Hong Kong in the preceding months.” And now unless mainland China, it is said, can bring itself to accept reality, the Taiwan Strait will remain one of the world’s potential flashpoints.

NOTE:

Facts given above are mainly from a long article by Michael Reilly, who is a non-resident Senior Fellow in the Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham. From 2005-09, he was the British representative in Taiwan. He is the author of The Great Free Trade Myth: British Foreign Policy and East Asia Since 1980 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). The article I quote from is ‘Between China and a Hard Place’ in History Today, Vol 71:10, Oct 2021.



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To recognise and reward Women Entrepreneur

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by Zanita Careem

WCIC “Prathibhabis-heka” national awards will be given to outstanding women entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka and the SAARC said Anoji de Silva, the chairperson of Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce WCIC at a press conference held at the Jetwing hotel Ward PlaceThis year the Women Entrepreneur Awards 2022 is powered by DFCS Aloka.This National Award which is recognised globally will help women to market their products to international buyers

“As a country we have faced many difficulties over the last few years. Now this is the time to reflect and ensure that local women can contribute and progress to be on par with international entrepreneurs She also noted that this award ceremony is a great opportunity for all since it’s an absolutely empowering platform. “You hear success stories of women from different walks of life and it’s very empowering and inspiring. I’m sure that the younger generation of women who will watch the ceremony wii be inspired to be sucessful entrepreneurs in the future S

“Our women entrepreneurs have the potential to help our economy to grow. They have made vast strides to build companies on a set of values and they have created diverse working environments.

The WCIC Prathibhabisheka Women Entrepreneur Awards will be held in January 22. To the question how financial records of small businesses headed by women could deter their ability to apply the chairperson said.

“We have a startup category which is under five years where they can submit documents for consideration. She responded “These women can apply but must submit proper records to back their applications or else they will be rejected wholeheartedly.The Women Entrepreneur Awards 2022

“Prathibha” depicts excellence in Sanskrit and WCIC will showcase the excellence of outstanding women entrepreneurs through WCIC Prathibhabisheka –

“The relaunched property is structured to assess the businesses in a holistic manner. We invite outstanding women entrepreneurs, especially the ones who have braved the challenges in the past years to share their story of resilience and achievements to compete for the coveted – WCIC Prathibhabisheka The Awards will honour women entrepreneurs for their tenacity to scale and grow, and for their contribution and impact on the economy. Whilst the competition is primarily for Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs, we have also included an opportunity for women in the SAARC region to compete in a special category” stated Anoji De Silva, the Chairperson of the WCIC.

The members of WCIC Ramani Ponnambalam and Tusitha Kumarakul-asingam, said”. We will be accepting applications under the categories – Start-up, Micro, Small, Medium and Large. Each category will have a specified revenue for the year under review – 2021/22. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be presented for each category. With the view to identify and promote regional women entrepreneurs, we will encourage applications from all the provinces in the country and select the “Best of the Region” from each province.

The women will also be considered for the coveted special awards – Young Woman Entrepreneur, Outstanding Start- up, Most Positively Abled Woman Entrepreneur, The Most Outstanding Export Oriented Entrepreneur, The Best of the SAARC Region. The ceremony will culminate with the selection of the “Women Entrepreneur of the year -2022”.

“The entry kit can be downloaded from www.wcicsl.lk and completed and submitted to the WCIC along with all the material required to substantiate the applicant’s story. Entries close on the 31st of October.” stated Tusitha Kumarak-ulasingam.

WCIC Prathibabisheka – Woman Entrepreneur Awards 2022 is powered by– DFCC Aloka, as the Platinum Sponsor, with Gold Sponsors – Mclarens Group, LOLL Holdings Plc, Hayleys Leisure Pic, and AIA Insurance Lanka Ltd (Exclusive Insurance Partner), Silver – Finez Capital Ventures Print and Social Media Partners will be the Wijeya Group and Electronic Media Partner–ABC Network with Triad as our Creative Partner and Ernst & Young as Knowledge Partner.

Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) is the premier organization supporting entrepreneurs and professional business-women. The membership is open to women who believe they can contribute to society as well as benefit from the many facilities the organization creates. WCIC Prathibhasheka is relaunched this year as a flagship property, to recognize and reward outstanding women enterpreneurs who make a contribution to the SL economy.

For further information Contact- Janitha Stephens – 0766848080

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Marmalade sandwich in Queen’s handbag!

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In this period of national mourning, it may seem frivolous to comment on the late Queen’s handbag. After seven decades of selfless service to the nation, fashion is but a footnote to Her Majesty’s glorious reign.And yet her style is something that helped to create the powerful majestic image of Queen Elizabeth II, and which made her instantly recognisable worldwide. A key part of that image, and a constant presence in her working life, was her black Launer handbag.

Launer London was Her Majesty’s handbag maker for more than 50 years and has held the Royal Warrant since 1968. Launer bags are formal and structured, and proved to be the ideal regal accessory for public engagements. Its first royal patronage came from HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the 1950s. Where others might have bought the latest ‘It’ bag, Queen Elizabeth exercised characteristic restraint with her handbags throughout her life, focusing on quality over quantity in her loyalty to Launer.

Her Majesty was known for her love of colour in her working wardrobe, wearing rainbow brights in order to be better seen by the public, but her accessories were always muted. Black mostly, sometimes beige or white in summer, gold or silver in the evening: neutrals that matched with every colour, allowing her to dress with ease. The timeless style of her trusty Traviata top-handle bag suited the Queen’s no-nonsense nature and symbolised her steadfast reign. The late Baroness Thatcher shared the Queen’s love of a strong top handle from classic British labels such as Launer and Asprey. These bags helped promote a look of someone in control. Like Queen Elizabeth, Thatcher’s handbags were such a part of her identity that they have earned their own special place in history and have been described as the former PM’s ‘secret weapon’. One such bag has been exhibited at the V&A alongside Sir Winston Churchill’s red despatch box. Both are artefacts of cultural and historic importance.

It has been said that there was another purpose to the Queen’s handbag on public engagements, namely that she used it as a secret signalling device. According to royal historian Hugo Vickers, Her Majesty would switch the bag from her left arm to her right to signal for an aide to come to her rescue if she tired of the conversation in which she was engaged. If she placed the bag on the table, this was a sign that she wanted to leave. Ever-practical, HM needed a bag that focused on functionality over fashion, choosing styles with slightly longer top handles that comfortably looped over the monarch’s arm, freeing her hands to accept bouquets and greet the public. Even in her final photograph, meeting her 15th prime minister in her sitting room at Balmoral Castle, just two days before her death last week, the Queen’s handbag can be seen on her left arm. Perhaps at this stage it was part armour, part comfort blanket.Even at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II did not lose her ability to surprise. She delighted the public by taking tea with Paddington Bear at her Platinum Jubilee celebrations and finally revealed what she keeps in her handbag: a marmalade sandwich, ‘for later’.

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Cinnamon Grand, Colombo welcomes You to the SEQUEL

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The next best thing in Colombo!

What would you get if you took the decadence of yesterday and paired it with the flavours of right now? Something bold and jazzy or rich and snazzy. Something we’d like to call the next best thing. All this and more at Cinnamon City Hotels to the SEQUEL at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo said a press release.

The release said the SEQUEL is where the old meets new, where charm meets sophistication and having a good time gets a new meaning. Colombo’s latest speakeasy cocktail bar is ready to welcome the discerning guest that is looking for that perfectly curated night.

“The SEQUEL will be a novel addition to Colombo’s nightlife catered to enthralling guests with our performances and showmanship,” said Kamal Munasinghe, Area Vice-President, Cinnamon City Hotels.

What do we mean when we say performance? It means that every little detail is tailored to those who appreciate elegance, and a bespoke experience like no other. Think walking into a vintage space accompanied by the sounds of Sinatra and Fitzgerald inviting you to do it your way or for once in your life. Think of the soul-searching and eclectic mix of Winehouse classics that you can drown your sorrows in.

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