Sun, Apr 03, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: With these friends, who needs foes?

China's State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) reportedly indicated to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) last week that Beijing "might help" with Taiwan's efforts to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO). If it had been the intention of Beijing and the KMT to earn some credit from Tang's statement, they'll be very disappointed. It's thanks for nothing.

It is no secret that the biggest obstacle to Taiwan's long overdue participation in the WHO is Beijing. Taiwan has every right to join the WHO as a member or, at the very least, an observer to begin with. If removing itself as the roadblock to Taiwan's WHO entry is the "help" to which Tang referred, then everyone who is beaten by a bully should thank the bully after the beating stops. What kind of twisted logic is this?

Beijing's so-called "help" -- assuming that it really happens -- isn't being offered out of the goodness of its heart. It has more to do with the overwhelming international pressure mounting as a result of passage of the "Anti-Secession" Law. Under the circumstances, Beijing feels compelled to offer a facade of"goodwill" to ease international condemnation.

If Taiwan owed anyone gratitude, it would be countries such as the US and Japan, which not only voted in favor of Taiwan's participation during last year's World Health Assembly (WHA) but voiced concern about the Anti-Secession Law, and the European Parliament, which on Thursday adopted a resolution in support of Taiwan's WHO participation.

Under the circumstances, for the KMT claim any credit for the so-called "help" offered by China is truly shameless. After all, didn't KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) try to downplay the implications of the Anti-Secession Law by saying that the legislation targets only the "Taiwan independence force?" In fact, if the people of Taiwan must have a thank you list for this "help," SARS probably deserve a place ahead of the KMT. After all, it was through SARS epidemic that the world came to realize the critical need for Taiwan to participate in the world health entity.

Besides, it is hard to tell -- based on the ambiguous statements of Tang revealed so far -- whether this "help" is a sugar-coated poison after all. If Beijing's idea of "participation" by Taiwan is for Taipei to dispatch some representatives to join the Chinese delegation to the WHA, then thanks, but no thanks. Beijing had tried to pull similar stunts before -- inviting individuals from Taiwan to join a Chinese delegation. That kind of "participation" is of course completely meaningless, since Taiwan and China are under completely separate governments and health systems.

Then there is also the scenario that Taiwan could join an international organization as either an observer or member under the name of "Taiwan, China," or some other name that suggest Taiwan is part of China or that concede to Beijing "one China" principle. If that is the case, then the KMT not only is undeserving of any gratitude from the Taiwanese people, but should be condemned for selling them out.

The main reason that the cross-strait relationship has been at an impasse in recent years is that Beijing insists any official cross-strait dialogue must be conditioned on Taiwan's acceptance of its "one China" principle. If the price that Taiwan is asked to pay for its WHO participation is this, then Taiwan simply must decline.

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