Wed, Jan 31, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Fable shows persuasion works better than force

By Shih Ya-hsuan 施雅軒

The Cross-Strait Policy Association on Monday last week released the results of its latest public opinion survey, showing that 74 percent of Taiwanese disapprove of China’s unilateral activation of the northbound M503 flight route over the Taiwan Strait, while more than 60 percent think that China has broken its pledge to establish a cross-strait consensus before activating flight routes.

Such a result could be foretold by Aesop’s fable The North Wind and the Sun, in which the wind fails to blow a man’s coat off, but the sun makes him sweat until he takes it off of his own accord. The fable shows that persuasion often works better than force. In terms of Taiwan’s foreign relations, it shows who has the strongest mastery of global geopolitics.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Jan. 4 suddenly announced that it was activating northbound traffic on the M503 route and three extension routes, thereby seriously reducing Taiwan’s air defense early-warning capability.

On the same day, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said: “The establishment and operation of the M503 route is routine for the mainland’s civil aviation authorities,” so there was no need to communicate with Taiwan.

The Mainland Affairs Council called for negotiations on reactivating communications between the two sides’ aviation departments to guarantee flight safety for the good of the public.

The only response from the CAAC was on Jan. 19, after Taiwan said it would suspend approval of extra cross-strait flights for the Lunar New Year.

The CAAC said that the M503 flight route and its connecting routes are international routes that have undergone technical inspection and confirmation by experts and have been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), so there are no problems regarding safety.

Apparently Chinese authorities have little concern for aviation safety. Their attitude is as cold as the north wind.

The US House of Representatives on Jan. 10 approved the Taiwan Travel Act, which has three main points: to allow US officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts; to permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the US under respectful conditions and meet with US officials, including US Department of State and Department of Defense officials, and to encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and other Taiwanese offices to conduct business in the US.

Although the act still needs to pass the US Senate and be signed by the US president, the legislative intent of open bilateral interaction amounts to extending a hand of friendship to Taiwan, whose foreign relations have become arduous.

A similar scenario to that of The North Wind and the Sun played out on Dec. 8 last year in Washington: Li Kexin (李克新), a minister at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said: “The day that a US Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unites Taiwan with military force.”

Four days later, US President Donald Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which says that the US should consider re-establishing port-of-call exchanges with Taiwan. It is clear enough who was the winner and the loser in that skirmish.

The action has moved from the East Pacific to the West Pacific, and with the approach of the World Health Assembly in May, further action is soon to take place in the WHO. Who is the master of global geopolitics and who can win Taiwan’s allegiance? Anyone who knows The North Wind and the Sun already knows the answer.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top