An ‘opposition’ office
On Monday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) issued a statement that took the unusual step of criticizing Premier William Lai (賴清德) by name, saying that some things he has said were an arrogant challenge to the “status quo” in cross-strait relations, and were very dangerous and presumptuous.
Surely the TAO has gone too far by so brazenly criticizing the government official to whom its Taiwanese counterpart, the Mainland Affairs Council, directly answers.
Considering that TAO Director Liu Jieyi (劉結一) only took up his post on March 19, this statement could be seen as a beginner testing the waters.
Given Liu’s background in China’s diplomatic establishment, it could be said that he has lost his footing and seems to have forgotten that the TAO’s purpose is to act as a lubricant in cross-strait relations, not a bottle of chili sauce.
Is it a matter of an overenthusiastic new official, or is Liu confused about China’s policies toward Taiwan?
Whichever it might be, Liu is to blame for getting things wrong.
This is not the first time that Lai has called himself a “Taiwan independence worker.”
He said the same thing in the legislature on Sept. 26 last year, but because he said it less than 30 days before the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the main concern of which was to ensure a smooth transition of power, China let the matter drop without saying anything.
Then Lai mentioned the idea again during a general question-and-answer session in the legislature on Friday last week. He was expressing his own will and making a statement about his personal political life.
If and when he takes part in elections, these ideas of his will be put before Taiwanese voters for their approval or rejection.
Public opinion would then show what people think about the TAO’s claim that Lai’s statements have seriously provoked mainstream public opinion on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and harmed cross-strait peace and stability.
If Taiwanese choose to take Lai’s side, thus directly affirming his ideas, what is the TAO, which is now ranting and raving about them, going to do with itself?
Will it change its name to “Opposition Affairs Office” and keep on saying the opposite to what Taiwanese think?
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