Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - Page 8 News List

A crisis of sovereignty and party maneuvers

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

Taiwan’s diplomatic situation has been extremely difficult since the 1970s, but with the help of the US and other countries, it has adopted an internationalization strategy and gradually returned to the international community through entry into APEC in 1991 and the WTO in 2002. Although Taiwan has made compromises on its status to join these organizations, it does not accept the view that it is a part of China as a prerequisite for membership. Taiwan considers the pursuit of full membership to be its goal.

However, in a 2005 agreement signed by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), the two parties proposed that there be cross-strait negotiations on Taiwan’s participation in the international arena under the “one China” principle.

After Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was elected president, he confirmed the Lien-Hu agreement. There now seems to be a consensus between the KMT and the CCP that talks on Taiwan’s participation in international activities should be negotiated between these two parties.

Since coming to power, Ma has based his policies on the “1992 consensus” and “one China, with each side having its own interpretation,” as well as a consensus between the KMT and the CCP to discuss Taiwan’s diplomatic space and a diplomatic truce, while emphasizing that the issue can be addressed without US intervention.

In addition, both sides have abandoned dual recognition of allies, while cross-strait relations are no longer state-to-state relations, but those between areas of one country.

The government’s thinking on Taiwan’s status has therefore undergone substantial change. In the Ma administration’s way of thinking, Taiwan holds a higher status than Hong Kong because it is still able to exercise relative autonomy and elect its own president and parliament.

But Taiwan’s status is lower than Belarus and Ukraine during the Soviet era because it is unable to become a UN member. It even has lower status than imperial China’s protectorates, such as Korea, because it is unable to exchange ambassadors with most other states, as Korea could.

Lastly, Taiwan has now yielded its de jure and de facto sovereignty.

The government’s view of Taiwan’s status is that it is superior to the second party in the “one country, two systems” approach, but substantially inferior to the protectorates of old. It is therefore abandoning its status as an independent, sovereign state and downgrading itself into a protectorate of China.

But even this is rejected by Hu’s “six points,” which were proposed on Dec. 31, because Beijing stresses that it will not accept Taiwanese independence or semi-independence.

Political parties unite in the face of external pressure; this is a fundamental political principle. Unfortunately, in recent years the use of foreign influences has become the norm when engaging in domestic conflict.

One result of this is the annual KMT-CCP forum, an occasion for KMT officials to visit China and make friends with a state apparatus that has territorial ambitions, a government that wants to annex Taiwan and join the KMT in fighting its political opponents.

This powerful and bizarre confusion of ally and enemy is causing Taiwan to rapidly lose its sovereignty and will continue to intensify domestic confrontation.

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