Tue, Aug 04, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Inaction on Xinjiang is a concern for Taiwan

By Chiang Huang-chih 姜皇池

The unrest in China’s Xinjiang region has quieted down, leaving us with the Chinese government’s number of casualties and its conclusion that it was a conspiracy incited by ambitious overseas activists requiring a powerful crackdown on “illegal elements.”

This conclusion is beyond comprehension. Taiwan’s government has remained silent, turning a blind eye from beginning to end. Even more alarming is the coldness and silence of the international community.

China behaved in Xinjiang almost exactly as it did in reaction to the unrest in Tibet last year: It blamed “external factors” and resolved it by force and going from door to door to find protesters. Western countries repeatedly condemned Beijing for the Tibetan incident. France even threatened to boycott last year’s Olympic Games. France, however, did not say a word about the Xinjiang incident, while the US simply called for self-restraint from both sides.

The EU is acting like this is none of its concern. EU Ambassador to China Serge Abou even said European countries also have minority issues and that they do not want other countries to tell them how to handle them. Later, Russia and China held a joint anti-terrorist military drill. Is discontent and ethnic conflict triggered by long Chinese rule now seen as terrorism?

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), an association of 57 Islamic states, merely expressed its “deep concern” on July 6, asking China “to deal with the problems of the Muslim minority in China in a broader perspective that tackles the root causes of the problem” for the sake of “historical friendly relations with the Muslim world.” Turkey, the only OIC member that strongly condemned Beijing, did so because of its close linguistic, religious and cultural ties with the Uighurs. It called the incident an act of ethnic cleansing and threatened an appeal to the UN Security Council.

Almost identical incidents therefore draw very different reactions from the international community. Some believe this is because other countries are preoccupied with the economic crisis and need China’s help. In addition, Chinese help is needed to deal with the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs. These international economic and political issues, however, existed last year and the knowledge that China can play a role is not a new realization. So what is the cause of this major difference?

The key lies in the fact that the world does not doubt that Xinjiang is part of China, while they question that Tibet is part of China. The significance of this difference and the consequences for Taiwan are self-evident.

As I mourn the deaths of wronged Uighurs, I think of Taiwan’s situation. Looking back at the Taiwanese government’s actions, they are taken in order to pave a whole boulevard for the “one China” principle. Will such actions further suppress the international community’s room for maneuver on the Taiwan issue?

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) sees Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly as a diplomatic breakthrough made possible by Chinese goodwill, but he completely ignores the “one China” curse. After the Chinese team boycotted the opening and closing ceremonies at the Kaohsiung World Games, can Ma still claim that Beijing is extending goodwill?

As Taiwan’s diplomatic space is gradually shrinking, the push for unification grows. Unfortunately, some are still praising the goodwill of the “motherland.”

This story has been viewed 3670 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top