Before talks with his Chinese counterpart, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said that while former SEF negotiator Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) traveled to China for political talks, Chiang and his delegation instead discussed economic matters.
When he mentioned Taiwan’s demands for international participation at the conclusion of the talks, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) brushed aside the issue by referring to the communique issued after his meeting with former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), adding the issue would be discussed later by the SEF and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).
In the second meeting between Koo and ARATS chief Wang Daohan (汪道涵) in 1998, Koo sternly demanded that then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) recognize the existence of the Republic of China as a starting point for political talks. In contrast, the recent round of “pragmatic” talks shows how President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) cross-strait policy has slipped from a “1992 consensus” meaning “one China with different interpretations” to one embracing a “one China” principle. This is another step in turning the cross-strait issue into a domestic issue.
Economically speaking, the Ma administration’s actions reflect Taiwan’s reliance on favorable Chinese measures, as in the recent agreements on direct charter flights on weekends and allowing more Chinese tourists in Taiwan.
The danger is that when one hopes the cross-strait issue will help solve domestic political problems, the result will always be controlled by the other side, regardless of what issue is being considered or what form talks take.
This displays a serious lack of strategic concern for focusing on real economic benefits for Taiwan.
Chartered cargo flights, part of the three-point strategy the Democratic Progressive Party insists on, would have been a real benefit for Taiwan’s economy, but were removed by China.
Beijing then made the issue the focus of talks when ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visits later this year, as a “gift” to Taiwan.
Such negotiations demonstrate that Taiwan is being forced to make concessions that are humiliating to it as a sovereign nation.
The participation of the vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the deputy minister of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in negotiations seemed a big breakthrough.
But when it came to straight cross-strait flight routes and the exchange of representative offices, it was impossible for government officials to control the SEF.
The MAC chairwoman not only failed to criticize the agreement, she even put in a good word for it. It is clear that the government is only there to embellish talks.
Another indication of how the cross-strait issue has turned into a domestic issue is the use of the common platform of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT as the main medium for the talks.
The meeting between Chiang and Hu was just an extension of the talks between Lien and Hu and between KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and Hu. When Hu responded to Chiang’s remark about Taiwan’s international space, he referred to the communique from his meeting with Lien in 2005.
Although he said the point would be negotiated by the SEF and ARATS, he also told the MAC that the communique was the highest guiding principle for cross-strait relations, implying that future talks about Taiwan’s international participation will be discussed by the KMT and the CCP before being passed on to the MAC for execution.
Even more serious, KMT members have recently been rushing to China to do business. In the middle of the SEF-ARATS talks, it was revealed that the MAC secretary-general is also an adviser on the committee for the promotion of economic cooperation between Fujian and Taiwan, an organization on the fringes of China’s united front framework.
Chiang himself insisted on remaining chairman of the Sinocon Industrial Standards Foundation, an organization that wants to form a common IT development platform for Taiwan and China, of which SEF deputy secretary-general Pang Chien-kuo (龐建國) is the chief consultant.
It is not surprising to see such people — so entangled in conflicts of interest — eager to take part in cross-strait talks.
Urged on by personal interest, how can they defend and stand up for Taiwan’s real interests in future negotiations?
Ker Chien-ming is the Democratic Progressive Party’s legislative caucus whip.
Translated by Anna Stiggelbout
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement