Details of the events surrounding the extradition of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects from the Philippines to China continue to emerge. Last Wednesday, Philippine Presidential Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr said Manila adheres to the “one China” policy and that the extradition of the Taiwanese to China was made out of respect for that policy. He said the dispute over who holds jurisdiction over the suspects would be better resolved by Taiwan and China themselves.
By citing the “one China” principle, the Philippines has checkmated the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), leaving it with no room to maneuver. Manila’s action showed that the government’s claim that Taiwan and China can each have its own interpretation of what “one China” means is a lie meant to deceive the public, and the reality is there is only “one China,” which is the internationally accepted view.
The funny thing is that in the statement issued in response to the Philippine government’s policy statement, Representative to the Philippines Donald Lee (李傳通) said that according to Taiwan’s understanding, the “one China” policy is a policy, not a Philippine law. However, why would the Philippines require domestic legislation to respect the “one China” policy? It is a political decision based on foreign affairs concerns.
If Ma’s government hadn’t insisted on the “one China” policy — which defines Taiwan as a part of China — the Philippines would not have been able to do as it pleased and extradite Taiwanese to China. Now that Ma himself insists on this “one China” policy and defines Taiwan and the mainland as two different regions of that one China, why is the government criticizing Manila for adhering to the “one China” policy?
Ma says that “one China” means the Republic of China (ROC), and the ROC has sovereignty over all of China. If Manila supported this view, then even Chinese suspected of breaking the law in the Philippines should be extradited to Taiwan.
The reality, however, is different. Just like the governments of most other countries, the Philippines respects the UN resolution that states the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the only lawful representative of China. It is thus because of Ma’s claim that there is “one China, with each side having its own interpretation,” that the 14 Taiwanese were deported to China.
The most serious consequence of this action is that Manila in effect recognizes Taiwan as being part of China. If the governments of other countries followed the same formula, Taiwan’s sovereignty and the rights of Taiwanese would be compromised.
At a tea party on Feb. 7, Ma instructed government officials to refer to China in the future as the “mainland” or “the other side of the [Taiwan] Strait.” This daft self-complacency only strengthened Manila’s claim that it was acting in support of the “one China” policy, leaving the Ma administration with no ground to criticize Manila nor to ask China to return the suspects to Taiwan.
Ma’s administration has implemented sanctions against the Philippines. As it seems that China has no intention of letting the suspects return to Taiwan, is Ma also preparing sanctions against China to protect Taiwanese sovereignty, jurisdiction and human rights? If he only dares threaten the Philippines but is afraid of insulting China, wouldn’t he be opening himself up to ridicule for being a coward and a weakling?