The little things in life often matter the most. That is why a steady drip, drip, drip of seeming minor irritations impinging upon Taiwan’s sovereignty could eventually undercut and sink this nation. What is making matters worse is that many of these cuts are inflicted by Taiwanese.
There are the government officials who apparently see nothing wrong with Taiwanese wanting to get involved with committees of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) or who accept Chinese officials passing off Beijing’s new passports as “not official” and just “being trendy.” Then there are people and groups who think it does not matter how Taiwan is labeled if that label will get you a seat at the table or a spot in an international organization.
They are wrong. These things do matter, even if it is only a question of self-respect.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said on Wednesday that many Taiwanese businesspeople working in China want to be members of CPPCC committees so they can voice their opinions on Chinese bureaucracy. While neither the Republic of China Constitution or the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) allow Taiwanese to officially serve on such committees — Liu appeared open to the idea that Taiwanese might be able to be “specially appointed” to the committees.
Do Taiwanese businesspeople seek to “sit” on national committees in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, the US or any number of other countries in which they do business? No, and it is not likely they would be allowed to do so. Foreign businesspeople working in Taiwan do not seek comparable positions; they get their views across to the government through organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei. So why should Taiwanese businesspeople in China seek special status, a status that Beijing would be too willing to allow because it would reinforce the stance that Taiwan is a province of China?
Officials are also sending mixed messages about the acceptability of China’s new passport illustrations, which include two sites in Taiwan as well as a contentious outlining of South China Sea territory. Several nations are taking steps to make it clear that they do not accept the new design, including refusing to put their entry and/or exit stamps in the passports.
Liu seemed to brush off the question of whether the passports infringe upon Taiwan’s sovereignty by noting that Chinese usually use a Mainland Residents Taiwan Pass to enter Taiwan, not their passports. Meanwhile, Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) took at face value the Chinese explanation that the new passports are not official ones and the design changes were made in an attempt to be trendy.
Such excuses are not acceptable. If those passports are “not official” travel documents, then the Chinese would not be able to use them to leave China, much less enter other countries.
Then there is Chang Liang-yi (張良伊), the first Taiwanese to be elected as a representative to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) youth group, who has been in hot water because he was listed as being from “Taiwan (Province of China).” After much criticism, Chang said he would resign if the UNFCCC Secretariat did not change his listing. Ironically, there are two Taiwanese foundations and two institutes accredited by the UNFCCC who are listed as being from China. They apparently did not protest the appelation. Why is not more of a fuss being made over their status?