Shortly after the melee in Tainan on Tuesday, in which China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) was besieged by pro-independence protesters, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said: “It is not our way to treat guests with violence,” while Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) labeled Zhang as unfriendly to Taiwan, adding that: “No one can tolerate seeing one’s enemy.”
So what does Zhang represent for Taiwan — is he friend, or foe? The record speaks for itself.
On June 28, 2001, Zhang, then spokesman of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said: “It is dangerous for Taiwan to include the word ‘Taiwan’ on its passport.”
On Sept. 26, 2001, he said: “It is the general trend and people’s yearning that the Taiwan issue soon be resolved, with the goal of a unified China … the issue of Taiwan cannot be delayed indefinitely.”
On Nov. 26, 2003, on the eve of the vote on the Referendum Law (公民投票法) in Taiwan, Zhang said: “We oppose the Taiwan authority’s attempt to use the legislation of a referendum to engage in separatist movement and pave the way for independence … we will react strongly if an unlimited referendum law is passed.”
On May 24, 2004, he said: “We will smash the separatist schemes of the Taiwanese independence movement at all costs.”
Despite his views on Taiwan, physical assault cannot be justified. Taiwan is a country of laws and brooks no violence to achieve political objectives.
Thousands of Chinese have visited Taiwan since July 4, when policies allowing a greater number of Chinese to enter the country were implemented. Not once have we heard reports of Chinese being assaulted verbally or physically by their hosts.
Zhang, therefore, was the exception, and the reason he was targeted has far more to do with his track record on Taiwan than blind hatred for Chinese.
Prior to the melee on Tuesday, Zhang was asked by reporters to comment on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) remarks that “no war across the Taiwan Strait [would break out] in the next four years.” His response was the following: “There will be no war if there is no Taiwan independence.”
Aside from its arrogance, the comment also represented a deadly threat to all Taiwanese who seek independence for their country.
Shortly after the incident, ARATS filed a formal letter of protest “strongly condemning a barbaric action of violence,” while the Presidential Office, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and Cabinet officials also condemned the act. Less than 12 hours after the incident, Tainan City Police Bureau Commissioner Chen Fu-hsiang (陳富祥) was demoted to the post of deputy director-general of the National Highway Police Bureau.
Contrast this efficient condemnation of violence with the Presidential Office’s response to the physical attacks on former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷) by Su An-sheng (蘇安生) earlier this year.
It took the administration three days to utter a word.
One might wonder whether condemnation of violence hinges not on whether the victim is friend or foe, but rather whether he or she is Chinese or Taiwanese.
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