Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Ma is selling Taiwanese sovereignty for peanuts

By Hwang Shiow-Duan 黃秀端

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has been weak in its response to tainted products imported from China and has failed to act as the government of a sovereign country.

Straits Exchange Foundation Deputy Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) recently announced that China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait’s “voluntary” move to inform Taipei after Chinese authorities discovered the contaminated milk powder was representative of Beijing’s goodwill toward Taiwan.

However, Gao Qiang (高強), secretary of the Chinese Communist Party branch at China’s Ministry of Health, took advantage of the issue to refer to Taiwan as “the Taiwan area of our country” in describing the spread of contaminated milk powder. The only thing the Ma administration did in response to this misrepresentation was to say in a roundabout way that referring to Taiwan in this way was “inappropriate” and that it hoped Beijing would restrict its party and government officials from using similar expressions.

When Taiwan informed the WHO that some products manufactured in Taiwan using contaminated milk powder from China had been sold to Hong Kong, the global body sent its response to China, with only a carbon copy forwarded to Taipei. When the Qingdao-based Shandong Duqing Company and the Chinese government both denied that Duqing products contained melamine, the Ma government was terrified of demanding that China conduct a thorough investigation into the matter the way Japan did after tainted dumplings were imported from China.

Even more pathetic was the way Taiwan lowered its testing standards so they would be in line with those in China. These are all signs of a government that is willing to belittle itself and call itself a local Chinese authority.

Despite these nightmares, the Ma administration continues to fawn over China. The administration said it hoped Chinese tourists would help improve Taiwan’s ailing economy, real estate sector and stock market. It is also talking about “improving” Taiwanese universities by allowing Chinese students to study here. The government is pinning all its hopes on China rather than seeking to understand the underlying problems with our nation’s economy and educational system.

Ma is also afraid of calling himself “president” in front of Chinese officials and has told representatives of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople that their becoming members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference would be a positive development. His proposal for meaningful participation for Taiwan in UN agencies rather than full membership was discarded in a matter of minutes.

After hearing Ma’s handling of and statements on the sovereignty issue, the public has begun to wonder whether Taiwan will still be able to hold a presidential election in 2012.

“Power rests with the people” has always been the most important of democratic principles. When it comes to major national decisions, constitutional amendments and sovereignty issues, decisions are not made by government officials and the legislature alone: The public must also be allowed to express its opinion through the democratic process. Many European countries organized referendums on whether to accept the euro, sign the Maastricht Treaty and approve the EU Constitution, because these issues involved aspects of sovereignty.

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