Wed, Oct 19, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Why China is deaf to Tsai’s appeals

By David Huang 黃偉峰

Since May 20, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has extended a lot of olive branches to China. For example, Tsai has reined in the independence-leaning words and actions of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and legislators.

In her own announcements, Tsai always refers to China as “mainland China,” except for a letter addressed to DPP members on Sept. 28. She has also instructed her government to keep the term “mainland China” in all official letters and documents.

She has appointed non-DPP members to top positions, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) — who announced that the DPP government would not officially promote Taiwan’s membership of the UN — as well as the chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), president of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and her representative to the APEC summit.

Tsai’s government temporarily suspended an invitation for the Dali Lama to visit. It also terminated the research and development program of the mid-range Yun-Feng (雲鋒, Cloud Peak) missile.

While not publicly endorsing the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) legal position in the South China Sea, the Tsai administration’s reactions to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the waters were almost identical to those of Beijing.

Unfortunately, Beijing’s policy toward Taiwan has proved to be inflexible. From Beijing’s perspective, the so-called “1992 consensus” is the political base that allowed the benign evolution of cross-strait relations toward a “status quo.” It is also the political base that facilitated 23 cross-strait agreements since 2008.

If Tsai is meant to maintain the “status quo” and inherit all the benefits of cross-strait cooperation, she should accept the “1992 consensus.” Given that Tsai is unwilling to accept the “1992 consensus,” which asserts that Taiwan and China belong to “one and the same China,” the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait has been altered by her. What Beijing has done since May is simply to show what an altered “status quo” would look like.

Beijing indicated during the presidential campaign that unless Tsai accepted its precondition of the “1992 consensus,” which it says means Taiwan and China belong to “one China,” there would be no official or semi-official cross-strait communications, no international space for Taiwan and no more economic handouts.

Despite Beijing’s vow of “three noes” to Tsai’s government, what it has implemented is a standard united-front strategy, namely, to divide and rule Taiwanese society. For example, the six KMT and two independent local government heads who accept the “1992 consensus” were well received by Beijing with a red carpet and swift promises to send Chinese tourists to their jurisdictions and Chinese delegations to purchase their agricultural products.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) has laid out its subsidy plan to invite young Taiwanese to start businesses in China. The vice mayor of Shanghai visited Taipei, announcing his city’s support for Taipei as the host of next year’s Summer Universiade.

On the other hand, official channels of communication between the TAO and the MAC, and between the SEF and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits have been severed; Taiwan was forced to participate in the World Health Assembly under written notice of the “one China” principle in its invitation letter — although with Taiwan’s protest; Taiwan was denied participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization; the nation’s title at the World Economic Forum was changed from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan, China”; Taiwanese accused of telecom frauds in Kenya, Cambodia and Malaysia were repatriated to Beijing — or abducted — rather than being sent to Taiwan.

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