Thu, Feb 10, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan’s sovereignty slipping away

By James Wang 王景弘

I have a question. If “one China” refers to the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) says it does, why did the Philippines extradite ROC citizens, together with other “Chinese,” to the People’s Republic of China (PRC)? How fatuous is this government to have reached a stage that it no longer dares even insist that Taiwanese and Chinese have different nationalities?

Ma is happy to bang on about how harmless the idea of “one China” is, but every day the folly of this position becomes more apparent. Beijing has its talons locked around Ma’s government, making it accept a consensus on Beijing’s “one China.” Beijing is now trying to transform principle into reality.

This international fraud case is a perfect example of the serious consequences of falling into the trap of the “one China” -principle. Taiwan forgoes its national identity and status as an independent country and, because the government has conceded that Taiwan belongs to China, the Philippines handed the suspects over to the Chinese government. The Philippines did this to allow China to deal with the matter, respecting a consensus arrived at by both parties.

Taiwan has been wronged by China and this loss of face is now being reflected in its dealings with the Philippines. Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) shies away from distinguishing between the people of Taiwan and the people of China, between citizens of the ROC and citizens of the PRC. He talks instead of people living in Taiwan and those living in China. If he can’t articulate this distinction, how can he expect other governments to understand?

This case involves judicial jurisdiction of criminals committing crimes overseas, but Ma’s government refrains from broaching the issue of nationality. So, the Philippines dutifully extradited those “Taiwanese” to China. This has again forced Taiwan’s hand, as it now has to ask China for access to the suspects.

This it can do under the terms of a previous mutual assistance agreement based, again, on the “one China” principle. Yes, the agreement benefits Taiwan because it means China might hand over the Taiwanese suspects, but it also represents a diplomatic victory for Beijing in the push to annex Taiwan, being yet another clarification of the position that Taiwan is part of China.

At the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, China wanted the Taiwanese contingent to arrive behind China’s, and recently Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao (陳光標) visited Taiwan to give cash handouts to the poor, amid much fanfare. No officials asked where this money came from or what it was for. This is all about identifying Taiwan as part of China, according to the “one China” principle.

Chen’s donations exposed poverty in Taiwan. Regardless, Ma still gave money during the approach to Lunar New Year. If he can’t help lift the poor from poverty as head of the government, what good is splashing cash around? It’s all hypocrisy and hidden agendas. This government really is something else.

James Wang is a media commentator.


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