Sat, Apr 23, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Impertinent interference or friendly concern?

By James Wang 王景弘

Taiwan has had a locally elected government for two decades now, and its democracy has gone from strength to strength. We all thought that the days of politicians accusing outsiders of interfering in internal politics had been consigned to history some time ago. That is, until a spokesman for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — in response to suspicions raised by 34 academics and writers from the US, Canada, Australia and other countries about the timing of a probe into more than 30,000 documents that allegedly went missing three years ago under the former Democratic Progressive Party administration — called it “reckless interference.” This is the kind of language one would expect from China.

Accusations of “reckless interference” from outsiders is part of the lexicon of dictators the world over. During the martial law period under Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), suppressing democracy and depriving people of their rights were called “governing according to the law.” Questions by other countries about the appropriateness of government suppression, arrests and courts martial, along with calls for an end to martial law, were met with accusations of “reckless interference.”

People overseas are similarly concerned about human rights in China, expressing empathy for the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, supporting Tibetan independence, objecting to China’s suppression of “Charter 08,” awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) and, more recently, protesting the arrest of the artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未). In each of these cases, Beijing’s standard response is foreigners “don’t understand the situation,” or are “recklessly interfering” with “the rule of law” in China.

The Ma administration has apparently stooped to using the language of the Chinese communists and Chiang Kai-shek, showing just how far democracy, human rights, justice and fairness have receded in Taiwan over the past three years. For the government to accuse individuals from other countries, who have shown themselves to be longstanding friends of Taiwan and its democracy, of not understanding the situation and of “reckless interference,” is more ridiculous and reprehensible than Beijing’s behavior. Taiwan depends on international concern and support for its security and independence.

Chiang and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), had the support of the US Republican Party for their anti-communist stand, while accusing the Democrats of “reckless interference” in internal affairs. Former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had the support of both the Democrats and Republicans for their efforts in establishing and developing democracy in Taiwan and for standing up against the communists, and therefore had no call to accuse anyone of interference as an excuse to neglect their responsibilities.

The Ma administration has tossed aside the gains Taiwan has made — which secured US support for its democratic and anti-communist policies — and rudely dismissed comments made by the nation’s longstanding friends. The result is that Republican support has dissipated and the Democrats have lost hope for Taiwan, leading to a number of US academics, who have placed their hopes in China, and several former US officials, in the name of US interests, advocating sacrificing Taiwan as a way to improve ties with China.

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