Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) is under pressure. When not taking fire from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) opposition over commodities and gas prices, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators and party officials consider it good sport to smack him around in public if he does not conduct himself in the ideological and administrative manner they expect.
Now he has been badgered into making an astonishing gaffe on Taiwan-Japan ties. KMT Legislator Chen Ken-te (陳根德) of Taoyuan County asked the premier questions that linked anti-Japanese language from Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) before he became president to the ongoing spat over the Diaoyutai islets and this week’s collision between a Japanese patrol vessel and a Taiwanese fishing boat.
At one point, Chen wanted to know if Taiwan’s military was prepared for hostilities with Japan over the matter. Liu’s naive response to an irresponsible question was to play down the matter but still confirm that “war” was an option, if only the final option.
Liu has been in the job for less than a month. Without stronger support from the president and the KMT legislative caucus, it has to be asked if Liu will last the summer.
But if Liu is incapable of understanding the importance of diplomatic language and cannot brush aside rabble-rousing legislators looking to set him up, then he may as well quit now.
The response by DPP legislators to Liu’s words was less shrill than might be expected. Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅), who represents part of Tainan County, gave Liu a relatively polite lecture on the need for diplomatic language when dealing with neighboring states.
The president must take a large share of the responsibility for his premier’s misfortune and growing discomfort. As Taipei mayor, Ma was no friend of Taiwan’s Japanese heritage, let alone that in Taipei City. He also made inflammatory comments about using force to protect the Diaoyutai islets from Japanese incursions. Ma has form on Japan, and this is Liu’s cross to bear.
During his presidential campaign, Ma went to some effort to combat his poor press in Japan, traveling there widely and making a good impression overall.
But the actions of KMT legislators and party officials — conveniently timed to impress Chinese officials as negotiations continue in Beijing — may undo all of that.
Still more questions are emerging about what Ma intends to do overall with a legislature whose members on both sides of politics treat his premier like a punching bag. Ma might consider stepping out from behind his protective media veil and start standing up for his own appointments. That would be the decent thing to do. It is also essential politics.
In the meantime, in a show of patriotic hubris, members of the Diplomacy and National Defense Committee, led by the deputy legislative speaker, expect to tour the location where the sinking of the Taiwanese vessel took place.
The learned gentlemen of the committee need not bother wasting their time and defense resources in commandeering a destroyer.
As far as symbolism is concerned, there is already enough damage being inflicted on ties with Japan by KMT legislators seeking to blow this incident way out of proportion.
And as for the site of the incident, all they will see is salt water.
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
On Sept. 8, at the high-profile Ketagalan security forum, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged countries to deal with the China challenge. She said: “It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framework to generate sustained and concerted efforts to maintain a strategic order that deters unilateral aggressive actions.” The “Taiwan model” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic provides an alternative to China’s authoritarian way of handling it. Taiwan’s response to the health crisis has made it evident that countries across the world have much to learn from Taiwan’s best practices and if