Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) rushed off to the US on July 10 after the director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Wang Yi (王毅), visited the US. Lai’s trip should have been aimed at erasing any propaganda Wang spread about cross-strait relations. Lai, however, got things mixed up and failed to eliminate erroneous ideas about Taiwan and China. Instead, she followed the old routine of focusing on the home market and propagated what a “great” job President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has done.
Wang’s message was clear. He said China-Taiwan relations are based on the “one China” framework expressed in the so-called “1992 consensus” and anti-Taiwanese independence and that this means Taiwan will be integrated with China. Wang then demanded the US stop military sales to Taiwan and called for the cancelation of the cross-strait median line.
While Lai said China still has missiles aimed at Taiwan and maintains its threat of military force, she suggested China remove that military threat if it really wants to “win the hearts” of the Taiwanese, thus forgetting the purpose of her visit.
By praising the success of the Ma administration’s policies, Lai was trying to show how these policies have helped move cross-strait relations from “mutual denial” to “mutual non-denial.” Hearing this from someone who served in the government of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) makes one wonder about the state of her memory. Under former presidents Lee and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the government did not deny the existence of the People’s Republic of China or China; it was only China that did not recognize Taiwan or the Republic of China (ROC) as a sovereign state.
Lai’s praise of “mutual non-denial” is problematic because it is unclear exactly what she was praising. Beijing does not deny that Taiwan is a local government of China, nor does it deny that Taiwan is part of China. What China does deny is that Taiwan or the ROC is a sovereign state.
At least two major errors appeared in a Washington Times interview with Lai. She was quoted as saying that Taiwan is a democratic country, but in the video recording of the interview she used the term “society,” not country. When asked whether 92 percent of Taiwanese really support the Ma administration’s China policies, Lai said the percentage referred to people who support maintaining the “status quo.”
Exactly what type of status quo is to be maintained? “Status quo” can refer to “one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait,” “one China, two governments” or that neither Taiwan nor China has jurisdiction over the other.
Lai let the cat out of the bag when she said the administration’s China policy aims to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. A Hong Kong style “peace and stability” can only be maintained by giving up sovereignty and independence and demoting Taiwan to an autonomous region of China.
The vast majority of Taiwanese define the “status quo” as one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait and peaceful coexistence. It is only on that foundation that mutual non-denial can meet their interests.
James Wang is a media commentator.
TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON