Diplomacy is an important realization of a nation’s sovereignty. The main goal of diplomats is to uphold the independence, integrity and security of their country. If the steadiness of a nation’s diplomacy is judged by whether another country rejects a request to establish relations, then that country has lost autonomy over its diplomatic affairs. Could it then still be called a country?
This logic is common sense in today’s world, yet President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), vying for re-election, does not have even the most basic understanding of this.
A proud Ma recently said in a public announcement that his “flexible diplomacy” has allowed Taiwan and China to escape vicious competition for diplomatic allies.
He said the government had learned that at least three diplomatic allies considered switching diplomatic recognition to China, but were rejected by Beijing. The logic of this statement is that we should all kneel down and thank China for its kindness and be grateful it allowed Taiwan to keep its diplomatic allies.
Ma clearly believes that Beijing accepts the “diplomatic truce” he has been advocating and Taiwan therefore no longer needs to put up with “blackmail” and “threats” from diplomatic allies. Indeed, he said that Taiwan can now confidently say no to its allies when it has to, which would earn it respect among other countries. He also said diplomatic expenditures have been cut over the past three years and these funds can be diverted to other areas.
The Ma administration, then, is not maintaining its diplomatic relations by strengthening ties with Taiwan’s allies. Instead, it seems to despise and loathe them. Is this really what Ma thinks diplomacy is about? What does he take our diplomatic allies for? Is Ma not worried about what would happen if they heard these remarks? If the Ma administration really thought this attitude would earn respect among other countries, then diplomatic relations should in fact have been further consolidated. Why, then, did three diplomatic allies want to establish ties with China?
Judging from Ma’s comments, the cuts to diplomatic expenditures during the past three years were done on purpose. Looking at the cuts to the national defense budget over the same period — not forgetting Taiwan’s problems in obtaining arms from the US — it is as plain as day that Ma’s “flexible diplomacy” and decision not to use force to resolve cross-strait disputes amount to laying down arms and accepting Taiwan’s sovereignty and security are dependent on China’s whim.
The legally assigned duties of the president of Taiwan include diplomacy, national defense and cross-strait relations. Now diplomacy and national defense have weakened and all Ma pays attention to is cross-strait relations, which he touts as being the warmest ever. What is Ma doing? The president of the Control Yuan recently lashed out at civil servants by saying people who receive monthly salaries of NT$90,000, but perform the job of someone who makes NT$20,000, were guilty of fraud. This was indeed a very fitting description.
Why doesn’t China need to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan’s allies at the moment? It is because Ma promotes a “one China” policy — his economic and political policies are gradually undermining Taiwanese independence and promoting unification. The fact that Beijing’s dream of setting up a puppet regime in Taiwan can get a foothold in the government is a huge gift to China. China has searched for 60 years without finding someone, so this truly is an “historic moment.” All the Chinese Communist Party has to do now is to lend its support and it will get what it wants without even having to go to any great lengths. How can Ma believe that Taiwan can win respect from other countries and Taiwanese can live with dignity?