On Double Ten National Day, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that cross-strait relations are not “international relations.”
The majority of Taiwanese probably do not accept this and neither does such a view conform with reality.
In June 2008, when Ma’s first month in office had just ended, the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly (遠見雜誌) conducted an opinion poll in which 73.7 percent of respondents agreed that “Taiwan and China are two countries that have developed independently.”
Earlier this month, a Taiwan Mood Barometer survey (台灣民心動態調查) asked the same question, to which 69.7 percent of respondents agreed, while only 12 percent believed Taiwan and China were the same country.
Of the last group, 9.6 percent of respondents equated “one China” with the Republic of China (ROC), while 2.4 percent equated it with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Evidently, there has been a consistent majority consensus in Taiwan on this issue, with negligible disagreement as to which party is in charge.
The president believes that the ROC is a country, but contends that the PRC is a country, too.
No matter what the law says, it is difficult to deny the fact that the PRC is a country. It is therefore obvious that relations between the two countries called the ROC and the PRC have to be “country to country,” that is, international relations.
Legally, none of Taiwan’s policies need to be directed by Beijing. No country signing an agreement with China needs to announce it to Taiwan, nor are any agreements signed with China applicable in Taiwan. Furthermore, none of Taiwan’s laws are applicable in China. It has been this way since 1949.
None of this has been the result of bilateral negotiations or agreement or approval by either side. Therefore, the relations between Taiwan and China are indeed international in nature.
Regardless of what happens in the future, this is how things stand at the moment.
For Ma to say that cross-strait relations are not “international relations” strongly suggests that he is laying the groundwork for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
China naturally does not want a meeting between Ma and Xi to be interpreted as a meeting between two heads of state. Xi is the head of state in China and if he were to appear at an APEC summit and meet Ma, he would necessarily do so in this capacity because APEC is not a forum for meetings with “leaders of ruling parties from various countries.”
If the relationship between Taiwan and China is not international, what would be the nature of a meeting between Ma and Xi?
Without clarification, the repercussions for Taiwan could be serious. Surely Ma would not attend such a meeting in the capacity of a “special guest of honor,” or some such title?
Unless Ma believes the term “president” does not mean a head of state and does not refer to someone who represents a particular country, he should not be making comments about there being no “international relations” between Taiwan and China.
Bill Chang is a professor at National Taipei Medical University.
Translated by Drew Cameron
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With