As the first anniversary of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration approaches, she has given a series of interviews in which her China policy has been especially important.
Generally speaking, in the interviews Tsai has softened her tone and called on Beijing to be open minded and show a willingness to be flexible, as a great country should be capable of doing. She compared the cross-strait relationship to an exam that both sides of the Taiwan Strait must complete.
According to Tsai, the “new situation, new test paper and new model” calls for structured and concerted efforts from both sides.
If Beijing is unwilling to work with Taiwan by abandoning its bureaucratic ways, cross-strait relations cannot move forward, she said.
Tsai is willing and ready to begin a constructive dialogue with Beijing. She has reaffirmed her long-standing views on cross-strait relations — the need to maintain the “status quo” and avoid provocations and surprises.
Despite her earnest and non-provocative message, state-owned Chinese media have said that Tsai is obstinate and have mocked her efforts as trying to sell the same old ideas with a new label.
It has even been said that China is used to having little interaction with Taiwan, so there is a risk that Tsai’s statements have fallen on deaf ears.
China’s response was predictable.
What is surprising is the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) continued support for China at the expense of Taiwanese, despite its sinking popularity.
The KMT has criticized Tsai’s recent remarks as “a contribution to an essay-writing contest” and mere “word play.”
Former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who is running in the KMT chairpersonship election, criticized Tsai’s cross-strait policy, calling it “confusing” and said that if she is unable to resolve the standoff, she should just accept the so-called “1992 consensus” or the “one China, different interpretations” view.
The “1992 consensus” was invented for political reasons. Former Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) has confirmed that Taiwan and China never reached a consensus.
While China uses the “consensus” to support its “one China” principle, the KMT accepts it in the hope of winning favor with Beijing.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not even dare to speak the name “Republic of China” when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) face to face in Singapore.
The “1992 consensus” and the “one China, different interpretations” view are self-defeating. They have lost all credibility and were dismissed by Taiwanese in last year’s presidential and legislative elections.
However, Wu is playing the card again, and he is demanding that Tsai accept it. Old habits die hard.
The “1992 consensus” shows that the bilateral relations praised by the KMT and Beijing during Ma’s administration was nothing but showmanship, lies and hypocritical cunning.
Beijing’s so-called “peaceful development” is its biggest trick.
Taiwanese are a peace-loving people; China knows this and is going into battle with a smile, opening economic and trade exchanges, making concessions and allowing large numbers of Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan.
It appears to have softened its approach using a carrot-and-stick strategy; but China has never given up the possibility of unification by force.
US Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, told the US Congress last week that any attempt by China to coerce Taiwanese to unite would be unacceptable. This was a simple and unambiguous warning.
While he was president, Ma cooperated with Beijing by claiming that cross-strait relations were better than they have been in 66 years, deceiving himself and the public with talk of “peace dividends.”
He played along with China’s strategy to gradually annex Taiwan.
Ma was feeling good about himself and Taiwan lost the ability to discern between friend and foe, and surrendered its psychological and national defenses.
After Tsai was sworn in to office, Taiwan stopped playing along and China was upset, which has resulted in frequent petty moves such as freezing official contacts, greatly reducing the number of Chinese tourists, restricting Taiwan’s diplomatic space, sending ships and aircraft into Taiwan’s waters and airspace and the detention of Taiwanese right advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) on the preface of protecting its national security.
Beijing has even prevented Taiwan from participating in the World Health Assembly (WHA) and the Kimberly Process meeting.
Tying bilateral relations to the “1992 consensus” and saying that “goodwill comes with preconditions” is not a sound approach and it cannot continue.
Beijing, after failing to impose its one-sided preconditions, then tried to blame Taiwan for the deterioration of cross-strait relations.
Such behavior shows that China harbors ambitions to annex Taiwan.
The KMT’s willingness to collaborate with China on this is disgraceful.
China’s actions against Taiwan in the past year have aroused discontent, but the KMT has not changed its attitude toward Beijing, and is afraid of criticizing China.
Instead, the KMT directs its opposition toward the Tsai administration. A political party that cooperates with the enemy at the expense of its own people can have no future.
As the ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fears offending China and so it is cautious, doing its best to maintain the “status quo,” while lacking the determination, courage, vision and means to promote the normalization of the nation, thus failing the expectations of voters.
If Taiwan is prevented from attending this year’s WHA, the reaction of Taiwanese is likely to have a direct effect on political parties and the government, which would be reflected in Taiwan’s relations with Beijing.
Taiwan’s China policy must no longer be governed by self-deceit.
Translated by Tu Yu-an and Lin Lee-kai
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
An outrageous dismissal of the exemplary Taiwanese fight against COVID-19 has been perpetrated by the EU. There is no excuse. I presume that everyone who reads the Taipei Times knows that the EU has excluded Taiwan from its so-called “safe list,” which permits citizens unhindered travel to and from the countries of the EU. As the EU does not feel that it needs to explain the character of this exclusive list, perhaps we should examine it ourselves in some detail. There are 14 nations on the list that have been chosen as safe countries of origin and safe countries of destination for
Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算). Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US. It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please