Sun, Mar 26, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Ma, the voice of Taiwan or China?

The Liberty Times Editorial

While visiting the US, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has expressed his opinions on cross-strait policy, and his views deserve public attention and discussion.

First, Ma said that from the perspective of international law, the Republic of China (ROC) is an independent, sovereign state and has been so since its founding in 1912. The name of this state is, however, the ROC, not Taiwan. He unambiguously said that the "one China" is the ROC, and that since the ROC is already independent, it is unnecessary to declare independence a second time.

Second, Ma proposed the so-called "Five Do's" (五要) during his speech, "A vision for peace and prosperity," at Harvard University. These "Five Do's" are: Resume cross-strait dialogue based on the "1992 consensus," sign a peace agreement and build a mechanism for mutual military trust, establish a joint market across the Taiwan Strait, increase Taiwan's participation in the international community and strengthen cultural and educational exchanges.

While these ideas have not yet been expanded into a complete discourse, they can be seen as the guidelines for Ma's presidential election platform in 2008 and offer a glimpse into the basic framework of his national identification and cross-strait policies.

Ma's stance on national identification does not appear to be particularly sophisticated, but rather plain, common and groundless. Take, for example, his claim that "one China" means the ROC, and that the ROC is already an independent and sovereign state. It is but a mere repackaging of former president Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) dictum on the ROC's legitimacy and former president Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國) dictum on maintaining the "status quo."

By putting these views together, Ma has successfully traced the ROC's legitimacy back to 1912 to bring greater legitimacy to the claim to represent China. However, Taiwan was a Japanese colony at that time and not a part of ROC territory. When World War II ended, the Allies ordered the Generalissimo to accept Japan's surrender in Taiwan. Taiwan was subsequently occupied by Chiang's troops and turned into "a springboard for the restoration and liberation of mainland China," as the whole ROC territory fell into Communist hands.

One may very well ask Ma whether the ROC -- since the body or the territory of the ROC is already gone and it exists on Taiwan only in name -- can be called an independent sovereign state? In reality, the existence of the country called the ROC on Taiwan is a result of unfortunate historical distortions. If we were to take the ROC to be the "one China," we will be deceiving ourselves.

Moreover, Ma has been vacillating in his China policy, swinging with the wind of opportunism and lacking a clear and firm core value. China has repeatedly bullied Taiwan in cross-strait interactions. But when Ma talked about his vision for peace and prosperity at Harvard, he had harsh words only for President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) denial of the "1992 consensus," the "one country on each side" dictum, the controversial referendum tied to the presidential election in 2004, as well as the cessation of the functions of the National Unification Council and guidelines. Ma dared not condemn China's deployment of ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan.

Since his every word and action receives a lot of international attention, Ma's attack on Chen, rather than Beijing, may lead the international community into thinking that Taiwan is a troublemaker, while China is the amicable party.

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