During the Lunar New Year, many temples try to predict the nation’s fortune for the coming year, but there is never one consistent answer. However, this year, two international incidents involving Taiwan have taken place that implying a gloomy the fate for the nation.
The first incident was the deportation of 14 Taiwanese suspected of fraud from the Philippines to China. Although Taiwan’s representative office in the Philippines repeatedly demanded the 14 be sent to Taiwan, and although it secured writs of habeas corpus from the Court of Appeals of the Philippines to prevent the deportation to China, Manila ignored Taipei’s demands. After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a strong protest, top Philippine officials issued a statement expressing their deep regret — but not an apology — on Monday.
The statement said that Philippine authorities had decided to deport the suspects to China “considering that all the victims are Chinese, all the accomplices are Chinese and the results can be best settled in China.”
This statement deals a double blow to Taiwan. Manila had no intention of returning the suspects to Taiwan because it fears China. This was the result the Philippines weighing the respective power of China and Taiwan and acting in accordance with its own best interests. However, Philippine officials also ignored the decision of their own courts, forcing their judiciary to bow before China’s political might. This will not increase Taiwan’s respect for the Philippines.
The statement, which the Philippine government worked on for several days, trampled on the dignity of the Republic of China (ROC) by saying that the issue was a matter for China.
The ROC government has lost all face in this incident. National security agencies were unable to either stop the extradition or to obtain an explanation that was acceptable to the nation. This shows a serious negligence of duty. The foreign ministry said it would recall its envoy to Manila and that it would strictly screen the applications of Philippine nationals who wish to work in Taiwan, but that is clearly not enough.
The second ominous incident for Taiwan was the fallout from the unrest in Egypt. While every country was hurrying to evacuate its citizens, more than 40 Taiwanese tourists took a Chinese charter flight to Beijing, where the Chinese media made a big deal about reporting the tourists’ “heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese government,” and ridiculed Taiwan’s government for issuing a red alert too late. Not only was the ministry’s slow reaction ridiculed by the Chinese media, it also became a tool for China’s united front strategy. Overlooked was the fact the ministry had arranged for a Royal Jordanian charter flight that evacuated 129 Taiwanese on Jan. 31. Nevertheless, this incident was enough to wipe any remaining glory off the ROC.
The government’s preposterous behavior has given the international community the impression that the ROC has already been unified with the People’s Republic of China. This is not a good omen for the future.
The fact that the government is coming apart at the seams is nothing new, but if it doesn’t understand the importance of, and even feels good about, the fact that Taiwanese criminals are sent to China instead of Taiwan or that Taiwanese tourists in Egypt are treated as Chinese and sent to Beijing, not Taipei, then it is a clear sign that the ROC’s 100th anniversary may be one of its last.