With the service pact, Ma has powered the ball into the bleachers. Are the opposition parties and the public going to let him score a home run?
To continue with the baseball metaphor: With the establishment of the representative offices, Ma is trying to steal second base.
The president recently said that the purpose of establishing the offices was to lay down foundations and that it was a neutral policy, in a bid to silence critics of the plan who have voiced their concerns. This was a ridiculous thing to say — how can representative offices that do not have the status of embassies be neutral?
Ma has said that “establishing the representative offices may on the outset seem to be an administrative measure, but in fact it has significant political ramifications.”
Again, how could this possibly be construed as neutral?
As if this were not enough to show how “neutral” Ma’s plan is, he also said: “Cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations and we are not going to regard our representative offices in China, or China’s representative offices in Taiwan, as embassies or consular offices. We cannot view the other side of the Taiwan Strait as a [separate] country.”
Since he first took office, Ma has been “laying the foundations” for what Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) recently formalized as the “one China” framework with each of the following “neutral” policies: the so-called “1992 consensus,” “one China with each side having its own interpretation,” “one country, two areas,” “cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations,” the ECFA, the service trade pact and the establishment of the representative offices.
According to this way of thinking, one could also say that the Philippine government’s handling of the recent fishing dispute with Taiwan according to its “one China” policy was completely neutral.
Clearly, when Ma talks of neutrality, what he means is “what China wants.”
How can Ma accept the “one China” framework and the idea that “cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations” at the same time? He also seems to think there is nothing wrong with the predicament the nation is in, even though the ECFA and the services pact will only see manufacturing increasingly moving overseas and Chinese investment continue to flood into Taiwan.
Can the public feel safe while all of this is going on?
Translated by Paul Cooper