Wed, Jan 26, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Intellectual laziness is damaging the nation

By Michael Danielsen

The recent US-China Joint Statement suffers from intellectual laziness when it applauds the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China. Why applaud an unsustainable policy that undermines the current international trade status and sovereignty of Taiwan and supports a government that appears to consider democratic Taiwan a part of China and thus goes against the wishes of the vast majority of Taiwanese?

No matter if the backing of ECFA is a result of intellectual laziness or not, it supports China’s political engineering with the ultimate goal of annexing Taiwan. This runs against Taiwanese wishes and is not sustainable.

On the surface, the ECFA seems like a great breakthrough in a troubled relationship, providing hope for a peaceful development in the near future. The assumption appears to be that trade and dialogue will lead to peace and prosperity. The intellectually lazy politicians will be satisfied with such fantasies and thus refrain from asking critical questions about the optimistic buzzwords that are easy to sell to the international community.

Why not jump on this bandwagon with positive thinking and openly support the ECFA? Because the ECFA undermines Taiwan’s hard-won international trade status in the WTO as well as its sovereignty. The ECFA was signed between two NGOs from Taiwan and China, the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) respectively, and not between two legal members of the WTO. The trade status appears to be further undermined by the fact that the ECFA has not yet been submitted to the WTO as expected, despite the pact going into force on Jan. 1.

The political symbolism is hard to misunderstand. China appears in the international press as the responsible nation entering dialogue with Taiwan, even though Beijing has not altered its position one inch. It continues to consider Taiwan a part of China. Recently, ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) stated that the negotiations were based on the so-called “1992 consensus,” even though its existence is widely disputed, and opposition to Taiwanese independence.

The whole package of agreements between Taiwan and China is increasingly leaving the international community with the impression that Taiwan is a part of China, which Taiwan’s government applauds. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) even considers himself the president of China.

The vast majority of Taiwanese want Taiwan to be independent and surveys from the Mainland Affairs Council reveal that more than 80 percent of the public rejects any formulation of a “one China” system. Moreover, identification with Taiwan has been increasing over the past 20 years in spite of Taiwan having a China-leaning government since 2008. By applauding the ECFA, the US-China Joint Statement is increasing the gap between the wishes of Taiwanese and the imagined goal of both Ma’s administration and international policymakers. This will only lead to trouble and increasing tensions in Taiwan. It is time to respect the wishes of Taiwanese rather than follow the fantasies of intellectually lazy politicians.

Michael Danielsen is the chairman of Taiwan Corner.

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