Ocean Springs lawmaker merits a stern warning from China


Twitter: @jpaulhampton

China clearly isn't happy with President Tsai Ing-wen.
China clearly isn't happy with President Tsai Ing-wen. ASSOCIATED PRESS

A simple congratulations by a Mississippi lawmaker has gone viral.

Ocean Springs Rep. Hank Zuber's routine resolution on Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party got more attention than he expected. And it wasn't because Zuber, a Republican, congratulated someone with the Democratic Progressive label.

It was the bigger China, also known as Communist China and Red China, that caused Zuber's name to explode on the Internet.

China apparently doesn't like Mississippi lawmakers showing any affection for Taiwan.

A short history lesson: The ROC (Taiwan) was formerly Formosa, an island off the Coast of mainland China. When the Communists won the civil war in 1949, the Chinese Nationalists fled to Taiwan and took their ROC government with them. Mainland China became the People's Republic of China. Now China would rather the rest of the world not use the word China when referring to Taiwan because it says Taiwan is part of the People's Republic. In the Olympics, and before other international bodies, the island is referred to as Chinese Taipei.

Zuber, though, calls Taiwan a friend, and that apparently is a little much for China. It sent a letter from its embassy in Houston telling him so.

"It may be pointed out that no matter how the situation changes in Taiwan, the Chinese government's position on adhering to the One-China principle and opposing 'Taiwan independence' will remain unchanged," the letter reads in part.

Klaus Bardenhagen, a German reporter covering Taiwan, noticed the letter on Facebook, wrote about it and posted a link to Zuber's Facebook page. Ten thousand people saw his Facebook post on the story.

And Zuber was soon wondering what was with all the friend requests from Taiwan. Traffic on the page eventually caused him to take the post down. And that just caused another flurry of internet traffic as reporters began to wonder what happened to the Facebook post.

"No one asked me to do it," said Zuber, who added it had nothing to do with pressure from the Chinese.

Zuber says he has sponsored pro-Taiwanese resolutions for several years and goes out of his way to meet with the country's delegation when it visits.

If China was hoping to keep Zuber's support under wraps, it probably shouldn't have said anything.

"It's all over the world," said Zuber of the story. "Friday it was on the front page of the Taipei Times."