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.
In September 2013, the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) quietly released an internal document entitled, “Coursebook on the Military Geography of the Taiwan Strait.” This sensitive, “military-use-only” coursebook explains why it is strategically vital that China “reunify” (annex) Taiwan. It then methodically analyzes various locations of interest to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) war planners. The coursebook highlights one future battlefield in particular: Fulong Beach, in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District, which it describes as “3,000 meters long, flat, and straight,” and located at “the head of Taiwan.” A black and white picture of Fulong’s sandy coastline occupies the
Early last month, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), officially approved the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The strategy was supposed to demonstrate that China has a long-term economic vision that would enable it to thrive, despite its geopolitical contest with the US. However, before the ink on the NPC’s stamp could dry, China had already begun sabotaging the plan’s chances of success. The new plan’s centerpiece is the “dual-circulation” strategy, according to which China would aim to foster growth based on domestic demand and technological self-sufficiency. This would not only reduce China’s reliance on external demand; it would also
Interrupting the assimilation of Xinjiang’s Uighur population would result in an unmanageable national security threat to China. Numerous governments and civil society organizations around the world have accused China of massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and labeled Beijing’s inhumane and aggressive social re-engineering efforts in the region as “cultural genocide.” Extensive evidence shows that China’s forceful ethnic assimilation policies in Xinjiang are aimed at replacing Uighur ethnic and religious identity with a so-called scientific communist dogma and Han Chinese culture. The total assimilation of Uighurs into the larger “Chinese family” is also Beijing’s official, central purpose of its ethnic policies
In studies of Taiwan’s demographic changes, the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica has found that a mere 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women think getting married is an important life event. The institute also found that the government spending money or amending laws and regulations in order to encourage families to have children is having no impact on the birthrate. Opinions differ on whether this kind of change is a matter of national security, as Japan faces a similar situation, without having a negative impact on its economic strength. Fewer women are willing to marry and the divorce