With steely-eyed determination and a clenched fist held up high, a stern-faced President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Tuesday asserted his intention to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity as he slammed the WHO for addressing Taiwan as a “Province of China” in an internal memo, and held China responsible for pressuring the WHO into designating Taiwan as part of China.
Just before the public was swept away by Ma’s rhetoric and convinced of his will to stand up against China and anyone who stomps on Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity, however, an event that took place on the same day on the other side of the Taiwan Strait led people to wonder whether Ma was at all sincere at the press conference.
It is ironic that as Ma spoke in Taipei about protecting the nation’s dominion and dignity and singled out China as the culprit suppressing Taiwan’s international standing, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) honorary chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) was sharing the stage with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing, with the latter speaking of China’s ambition to unify Taiwan.
If Ma is at all serious about safeguarding the nation’s standing, wouldn’t the Hu-Wu meeting have provided the perfect platform for Wu to voice Taiwan’s protest?
Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, could very well have instructed Wu to seize the opportunity and showed the Ma administration’s resolve in defending the nation’s name and dignity.
Instead, Hu was left to trumpet his message of unification, saying that “commercial and cultural exchanges can serve as two bridges for cross-strait hand-in-hand and mind-to-mind cooperation.”
Hu also stressed that both the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party had to uphold the so-called “1992 consensus that adheres to the one China principle” — all without a squeak of opposition from Wu.
It is no wonder then that Taiwanese are left guessing whether Ma’s performance on Tuesday was simply more political theater aimed at fooling the public.
The disclosure of the WHO memo, which said WHO publications needed to use the terminology “Taiwan Province of China” and that Taiwan should be “listed or shown as falling under China and not separately as if they referred to a state,” brings to mind Taiwanese student Huang Hai-ning (黃海寧) and her fellow protesters confronting then-Department of Health minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) over his dubious representation of Taiwan at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva in 2009.
It would appear that their concerns have proven well-founded.
Many vividly recall that Yeh, in response to the protesters’ question, visibly lost his composure and abandoned all civility as he launched into a tirade, pointed a finger at Huang and said: “Shame on you” and “People like you are useless.”
At the time, Yeh dodged that simple question posed by Huang and her fellow protesters. Two years later, the answer has been laid bare for all to see — that Taiwan’s status has indeed been belittled by the international organization.
Who are the ones who should really be shamed for allowing Taiwan and Taiwanese to endure such an insult? Without need for hesitation, the public knows the answer.