American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt recently visited Taipei and met leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties. When talking to the media, Burghardt expressed concern over China’s military threats to Taiwan and said Beijing posed a military threat to Taiwan as long as it has missiles aimed at Taiwan and that it should remove them. Perhaps President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government mistakenly believes that some of the messages Burghardt conveyed were in line with their own policies. But the Ma administration is kowtowing to China despite the hundreds of missiles aimed at us. This shows how the Ma administration is obsessed with China while the US continues to keep its wits.
China’s military threat toward Taiwan is not something new. The 23 million people of Taiwan, regardless of their political affiliation and ethnicity, cannot escape the fact that they live each day with the threat of China’s missiles.
However, the administration, which constantly talks about putting Taiwan first and doing what is best for the people of Taiwan, is really only concerned with Beijing’s “one China” principle and its dream that China will give Taiwan some international space.
The government believes simply relying on China will be enough to save Taiwan economically. It has never addressed the military threat that China poses to Taiwan. Perhaps Ma’s team sees the 1,000-plus missiles as something pleasing, not the terrible threat they are.
Why does Burghardt have the courage to demand that China remove its missiles, while the Ma administration appears to care less about them? The reason is simple. The Ma administration has to beg China for many things and it cannot afford to offend Beijing because it sees China as Taiwan’s savior. It’s heavy reliance on China means it does not dare do anything not in line with China’s thinking.
Let’s look at it this way: Ma kowtowed to China for nine months before more than a fraction of the 3,000 Chinese tourists per day that he hoped would save Taiwan’s ailing economy actually started coming here. The Amway China cruise came to Taiwan and the government used 1,000-plus participants and the money they spent here to boast of what a great job it has been doing to bolster the economy. Officials keep talking about the benefits, and even the necessity of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, but so far there has been no word that Beijing would actually agree to one.
Given these circumstances, how would Ma have the courage to demand that China remove their missiles?
The Taiwanese should not bother dreaming that Ma will make such demands. Neither the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or the Ma administration have made a formal demand during the cross-strait economic, trade and cultural forum or other cross-strait talks that China remove its missiles. The administration’s cross-strait policies and dependence on China make it appear like a drug addict. It will never be able to kick its China habit. Direct links, Chinese tourism, the Straits Exchange Foundation-Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait pacts and relaxation of the restrictions on Chinese investment all clearly show how the government wants to make Taiwan’s economy completely dependent upon China’s. Once China has control over Taiwan’s core businesses, unification will be a mere formality.