Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) had a point when he said on Monday that if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot protect Republic of China passport holders, it should not be surprised that Taiwanese prefer placing “Republic of Taiwan” stickers on their passports.
The ministry can intimidate Taiwanese over petty stickers that express the wish not to be mistaken for Chinese, but it is defenseless in helping this nation’s citizens from being sent to China by foreign governments.
That said, it is hardly the ministry’s fault that the government is so powerless when confronted by “one China” claims abroad. Even as the Kenya incident continued to unfold on Tuesday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), while urging Beijing to release the dozens of Taiwanese deported by Kenya, continued to tout the so-called “1992 consensus” at a meeting in Taipei with a director of the US-based Council on Foreign Relations.
It does not matter how many times Ma repeats the “one China, different interpretations” mantra; the “one China” framework is simply inescapable. The Ma administration owes Taiwanese an explanation on how “different interpretations” — a verbal scheme in which the more powerful side is surely to have the decisive say — distinguish Taiwan as a separate sovereign state in practice.
The Ministry of Justice on Tuesday was quick to defend Beijing’s actions, saying that it conformed with the principles of legal jurisdiction in having fraud suspects deported to China, where the people affected by the alleged crime reside.
However, what was not said was that when asked about the incident, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said that Beijing approved of Kenya upholding the “one China” principle, rather than invoking legal terms concerning extradition.
If it was all “legal” and conformed with international principles, why did Chinese officials in Kenya not make it explicit to Taiwanese representatives when they, accompanied by Kenyan police armed with submachine guns, had to use tear gas to seize the Taiwanese? Why the flagrant snubbing of the injunction issued by the Kenyan High Court banning police from deporting eight Taiwanese last week pending a hearing on Monday?
The Kenyan government did not specify that the case was one of extradition. A Kenyan Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government spokesman merely said the Taiwanese were sent away because they had entered the country “illegally, without proper documents.”
In other words, it was deportation.
It is clear that the Chinese seizure of the Taiwanese and its hindering of the government’s effort to have them sent to Taiwan borders on abduction.
If it was deportation and Beijing insisted that Taiwanese be deported to China, then it is a political crisis in which China, as Lu said, is exerting a sovereignty claim over Taiwan.
A similar thing happened in 2011, when Manila, honoring its “one China” policy, sent 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China for trial.
Has the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議), signed in 2009, been amended?
And why has the Ministry of Justice taken a defensive stance when it did not even know — as revealed in yesterday’s legislative question-and-answer session — whether an extradition treaty existed between China and Kenya?
As China’s violent actions have proven the cross-strait judicial assistance agreement useless, one wonders whether the ministry has buried its head in the sand or is simply shirking its responsibility. The Kenyan crisis could not come at a more importune time for the ministry, given that Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) has just returned from a trip to China aimed at championing the achievements of the agreement.
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