Mon, Feb 14, 2011 - Page 8 News List

In search of international good will

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

The Philippine government says that Beijing is too powerful. The problem is that if another country encountered the same situation, it would not give in to China so readily, for fear of even stronger protests. The strange thing is that the Philippines’ first reaction to Taiwan’s response — which the general public felt was too weak — was to say that it was at a loss. This reaction requires further analysis.

This situation arose not because the Philippines does not understand the Ma administration’s cross-strait policy. Had that been the case, officials would not have been able to correctly cite various cross-strait agreements. The deportations occurred because Filipino officials believed they did understand those agreements and thought Taiwan would respond weakly with China involved.

In other words, the government’s mistaken foreign policy is now beginning to have serious consequences for Taiwan.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has expressed great pride in the communique issued after the meeting between former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in 2005, which stated that Taiwan and China would discuss Taiwan’s international presence. Indeed, when Taiwan was later allowed to participate as an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA) after Ma took office, he was very pleased. The problem is that this state of affairs effectively makes Taiwan a Chinese vassal state.

Ma’s announcements that cross-strait relations would be given precedence over foreign policy later extended into a diplomatic truce, turning these policies into comprehensive and complimentary measures to our vassal status.

In terms of its impact on Taiwan’s sovereign status, it is very difficult to see the difference between having Taiwanese detainees returned via Beijing and having to obtain Beijing’s approval to attend the WHA. In light of these complimentary measures, the Philippine government’s approach makes sense.

That is why this latest incident is not a matter of how fast officials have reacted or whether any administrative errors were committed. Rather, it is a matter of national positioning and foreign policy. Unless we realize this, any review of the incident will be meaningless.

Lin Cho-shui is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.

TRANSLATED BY PERRY SVENSSON

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