Speaking last week at the opening ceremony of a conference of diplomats stationed overseas, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) proposed four targets for Taiwan’s diplomats. The odd thing is that, despite the difficulties Taiwan faces with regards to national sovereignty, the goals he proposed did not include that of consolidating Taiwan’s sovereign status.
Instead, Ma invited overseas diplomats to visit southern Taiwan after the conference and have a look at how areas damaged by Typhoon Morakot two years ago have been reconstructed. He suggested that when they went back to their stations abroad, they could help publicize Taiwan’s reconstruction achievements. Therefore, at the end of a conference for which they had been brought back from abroad at a cost of more than NT$20 million (US$690,500), the diplomats set off southward for a tour of the typhoon-stricken area.
Our diplomats abroad have had very little to do during Ma’s three years in office. No longer charged with upholding Taiwan’s national sovereignty, some diplomats with too much time on their hands have got into trouble over sexual harassment, extramarital affairs and other mischief, while others became involved with domestic politics.
Now, with next year’s presidential and legislative elections approaching, it is possible that our idling diplomats will be called upon to help out with Ma’s election campaign. That would be typical of Ma’s timid approach to overseas affairs and his enthusiasm for the struggle at home.
Our diplomats haven’t been doing their proper jobs, so it his hardly surprising that alarm bells keep ringing about the intentions of some of those countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Ma himself recently revealed that at least three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies would like to establish diplomatic relations with China, but that China had turned down their advances.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said at least six diplomatic allies were wavering, but this was not the focus of last week’s conference.
Ma is by his own admission fully aware of the precarious state of Taiwan’s diplomatic relations, but he did not tell the diplomats to put more effort into consolidating Taiwan’s diplomatic ties. Instead, he went around telling everyone what a good thing it was that China had turned down those three countries’ offers to exchange ambassadors, and how this was a beneficial result of his “diplomatic truce” policy.
A funny kind of leader it is who sees the continuing stability of our diplomatic relations as depending not on our own efforts, but on a hostile country’s reluctance to cozy up with our allies.
Ma reminded the diplomats’ conference that “our country,” ie, the Republic of China (ROC), had lost the right to represent China in the UN after the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 on Oct. 25, 1971. Moreover, he is constantly trying to fool himself and everyone else that Taiwan and China arrived at a “1992 consensus,” under which both sides purportedly agreed that there was only “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation.
Does this not amount to an admission that it is the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that has the right to represent China these days? That being the case, what use is any talk of each side agreeing on there being just “one China” and only disagreeing about how it is interpreted? The only possible purpose is to fool the people of Taiwan.