Addressing a meeting of the European Council on Foreign Relations in London on Feb. 8, Taiwan’s Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said he hoped that Taiwan and China would embark on a new mode of benign interaction in the international community. He also said that Taiwan should strive to participate using the proper name of its government in intergovernmental international organizations and specialized UN agencies, adopting the same method under which it takes part in the World Health Assembly (WHA).
However, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated its opposition to Taiwan having any official dealings with countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing, and to Taiwan’s participation in international organizations in which only sovereign states can take part.
China’s reaction struck a sore point and exposed two lies bandied about by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government — the so-called “1992 consensus” and the idea of a “diplomatic truce” with China.
To begin with, if the “1992 consensus” really existed, that would imply that although neither side agrees with the other’s point of view, they would still respect each other’s position. In fact, Beijing continues to be high-handed and domineering in everything it says and does. It has never agreed to Ma’s claim that the “consensus” means both sides agree that there is “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”
Second, when Ma was elected president in 2008 he called for a “diplomatic truce,” saying that his government would not compete with China over establishing diplomatic relations with other countries. Later on, the government was overjoyed when Taiwan was admitted to attend the WHA under the name “Chinese Taipei,” but Taiwanese were kept in the dark about whatever secret deal might have been struck with China in exchange for being allowed to attend the meeting as an observer.
Over the past four years, China has not tried very hard to get countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan to switch sides. This has created an illusion among some Taiwanese that all is quiet on the diplomatic front, but there has been no let-up in Beijing’s effort to limit Taiwan’s living space in international affairs.
For example, China has blocked Taiwan from joining or taking part in international organizations. It has obstructed our participation in APEC and meetings of scientific and technical officials. The official title of the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) at meetings of the South East Asian Central Banks Governors’ Conference was changed to “Central Bank, Chinese Taipei” without authorization and Taiwanese civic groups have also been forced to change the names under which they participate in international activities. Even the WHO circulated an internal memo that belittled Taiwan’s status.
These and many other incidents show that the so-called “diplomatic truce” is really one in which Taiwan has stopped fighting, but Beijing has not. Ma’s “truce,” is a state of passive inaction, which amounts to abandoning our country’s dynamism and independence.
The sad thing is that the government appears oblivious to China’s scheming. It has not only concocted the so-called “1992 consensus,” but also been ensnared in Beijing’s “one-China” framework and adopted foreign policies that are damaging to our national interest.
It would be hard to find another government anywhere in the world that is so willing to disarm and surrender without a fight.
Mark Chen is a Democratic Progressive Party legislator.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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