Responding to a recent article by Kyodo News Agency titled “When Taiwan-Japan relations run afoul, there’s always Hatta Yoichi,” the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Tokyo last week once again highlighted the government’s tendency to obfuscate and its refusal to acknowledge public apprehension about its policies.
The office called a passage in the report “groundless” that read “while Ma has wooed China, restarted formal negotiations across the Taiwan Strait and signed trade agreements with Beijing, Taipei’s relations with Tokyo have mostly stagnated.” Yet the office did not meet the allegations directly, choosing instead to rehash the old platitudes of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — no unification, no independence and no use of force — while adding that the ongoing negotiations with China are “based not on political but rather economic objectives.”
The response defies reality. If, as the office claims, Ma’s administration “wishes to enhance its substantial relationship with Japan,” then how do we explain a series of unnecessary and avoidable political spats since Ma took office?
Soon after Ma became president in May last year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled its envoy to Japan over a maritime incident near the Diaoyutai (釣魚台) involving Japanese and Taiwanese vessels. Less than a year later, it was raising a storm over perfectly acceptable comments by Japanese envoy Masaki Saito to the effect that Taiwan’s status remains “unresolved.” The Ma administration played the hurt party and refused to meet Saito for months.
If Taipei wanted to enhance relations with Tokyo, it would have handled those minor matters differently.
Meanwhile, Beijing continues to threaten Taiwan by deploying more missiles across the Strait, and Chinese academics and generals speak of war on visits to Taiwan — a rejection of the nation’s status far worse than Saito’s comments. Yet Ma says nothing. No Chinese officials are barred from coming; in fact, more are welcome.
If questioning Taiwan’s status were an offense in Ma’s eyes, then not a single academic or Chinese official would be allowed on this side of the Strait.
It is also evident that the objectives of ongoing negotiations with Beijing are, despite what the office says, not solely economic. Time and again, the top leadership in Beijing has said that economic integration is part of its plan to annex Taiwan. That the financial agreements are a Trojan Horse cannot be wished away.
This is not the first time a government agency defends its policies in such a matter. The Ministry of Justice has responded to open letters concerning the erosion of rights and liberties in Taiwan and the trial of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Like the Tokyo office’s letter, the ministry’s replies engaged in avoidance while encouraging the illusion that the Ma administration is beyond reproach.
The truth, as Kyodo highlighted in its article, is that the Ma administration has neglected Japan at the expense of better relations with China, and that it is putting Taiwan’s sovereignty at risk by ignoring the political ramifications of “economic” deals. Unless the government provides clear, direct answers to those allegations, we will continue to treat its indignant responses as mere propaganda.
An outrageous dismissal of the exemplary Taiwanese fight against COVID-19 has been perpetrated by the EU. There is no excuse. I presume that everyone who reads the Taipei Times knows that the EU has excluded Taiwan from its so-called “safe list,” which permits citizens unhindered travel to and from the countries of the EU. As the EU does not feel that it needs to explain the character of this exclusive list, perhaps we should examine it ourselves in some detail. There are 14 nations on the list that have been chosen as safe countries of origin and safe countries of destination for
Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算). Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US. It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please
Drugged with sedatives, handcuffed and wearing a bright orange prison tunic, British fraud investigator and former journalist Peter Humphrey was escorted by warders into an interrogation room filled with reporters, locked inside a steel cage and fastened to a metal “tiger chair.” Humphrey recalls: “I was completely surrounded by officers, dazed, manacled and with cameras pointing at me through the bars. I was fighting for my life like a caged animal. It was horrifying.” Footage from the interrogation was later artfully edited to give the appearance of a confession and broadcast on Chinese state media. While this might sound like an
The US House of Representatives on July 1 passed by unanimous consent a bipartisan bill that would penalize Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s new national security legislation in Hong Kong, as well as banks that do business with them. The following day, the US Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was later sent to the White House, where it awaits US President Donald Trump’s signature. The bill does not spell out what the sanctions would look like and Trump has yet to sign it into law, but Reuters on Thursday last week reported that five major Chinese state lenders are considering