When Wang Yi (王毅), director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, met with Taiwanese living in the US while on a recent visit there, he expressed his views about Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election — clearly an attempt to influence its critically important result. Wang also said that the issue of a military threat to Taiwan is absurd, saying that as long as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are in power and Taiwanese independence does not become an issue again, there will be no missile issue or military problem. China has already started its flagrant campaigning for Ma.
Beijing backs Ma because he goes along with China and the so-called “1992 consensus” on the “one China” principle. However, Beijing’s support for Ma is not necessarily out of admiration for him. Rather, it pins its hopes on Ma’s firm belief that eventual unification with China is inevitable.
Almost immediately after Wang was done promoting Ma, he warned Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the 23 million people of Taiwan that China would not accept anyone taking power who overturns the “1992 consensus” and would most likely suspend current bilateral agreements — such as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan and provincial-level buy-Taiwan delegations — if the DPP did win power.
Wang gives us exactly the same false sense of improved cross-strait relations and warmer ties as Ma. At what price are these so-called improvements made? Ma sells Taiwan short by making it a part of China and he backs policies that support an inevitable unification. Retired high-ranking military officers and diplomatic officials have also recently made certain exchanges in favor of Beijing’s facade of goodwill. However, as China openly declares that placing sanctions on Taiwan is a possibility in the very near future, Wang’s words slice right through Ma’s claims about improvements in cross-strait relations and warming ties. It is becoming increasingly clear that whether Ma’s self-righteous policies are allowed to continue really rests in the hands of the Chinese.
It is also worth noting that Wang keeps saying that Taiwan’s elections are an issue which concerns Taiwan alone and has nothing to do with Beijing — just as he says that the Taiwan issue is an internal issue for China. China’s intervention in Taiwan’s presidential election simply becomes a matter of course.
Why does Ma not protest China’s meddling in our nation’s elections? When Hans van Baalen, vice chairman of the European Parliament’s Taiwan Friendship Group, said if he were a citizen of Taiwan he would vote for Tsai, the Ma administration sent its dogs out to reprimand him, saying it was unacceptable for any foreign national to interfere in Taiwan’s domestic affairs. Shouldn’t the Ma administration use the same standards in rebutting Chinese officials, especially when they are using much stronger rhetoric and actions in their attempts to control who becomes our president?
That Beijing keeps praising Ma for being a loyal subordinate is alarming and causes many to speculate about whether he is really on Taiwan’s side, especially since his neutral stance is exactly what wins him favor with Beijing in the first place. In the past, whenever the opposition raised doubts about Ma’s position on Taiwan, he typically rebutted their doubts immediately. Now, however, as Wang lavishes praise on Ma — causing many of us to question Ma’s loyalty — why doesn’t Ma rush to draw a clear line of demarcation between them in order to regain the trust of Taiwanese? If he fails to do this, as the election draws near and more Chinese officials come out showing their support for him, who will believe him when he says he is a Republic of China citizen?