Thu, Mar 14, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Some perspectives can do harm

By Huang Wei-ping 黃惟冰

On Wednesday last week, the Washington Post published a letter by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), in which he said that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) “takes a confrontational approach by not recognizing the 1992 consensus between Taipei and Beijing, namely ‘one China, respective interpretations’ ... harming Taiwan’s economy and diplomatic relations.”

“Given the fierce competition between the United States and mainland China lately, the people of Taiwan are increasingly worried that Taiwan may be used as a bargaining chip in the process,” Ma wrote.

“Taiwan’s detente with mainland China during my administration is clearly in the US interest,” he added.

On the same day, the newspaper published another letter by Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US Deputy Representative Louis M. Huang.

Huang said that “China’s ambitions and intentions do not involve only Taiwan,” but also pose threats to the entire Asia-Pacific region’s stability, showing that the “global engagement and peaceful transformation policy toward China has proved to be a failure.”

Accordingly, Huang expressed the hope that “like-minded countries will stand up together to an authoritarian regime bullying its neighbors and its own people.”

After all, China’s target “may be Taiwan or Xinjiang today, but who will it be tomorrow?” he wrote.

Comparing the two letters, one cannot help but wonder: How could Ma — a former president, who repeatedly receiving a low approval rating during his term in office — justify himself as being a candid representative of “the people of Taiwan” and point the finger at the incumbent Taiwanese president through a foreign media outlet?

Second, in a speech delivered on Jan. 2 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) clearly said that the so-called “1992 consensus” means that “both sides of the Strait belong to one China and will work jointly to seek national unification on the ‘one China’ principle.”

On March 2, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Wang Yang (汪洋) did not even mention the “1992 consensus” in his report at the annual conference.

Instead, he stressed China’s “firm opposition to Taiwan independence” and Beijing’s determination to facilitate unification.

In other words, Ma’s prolonged obsession with “the 1992 consensus,” as if he still had the option of having “different interpretations,” is simply delusional.

Third, the basic tone of Ma’s opinion is: Not surrendering to Beijing’s conditions is tantamount to taking a confrontational approach, which will bring harm to Taiwan.

How can Ma’s logic, which places the blame on the victim, help Taiwan gain more international support? The better way would be calling for empathy from Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and other nations, urging them to support Taiwan and collaborate to counter Chinese bullying.

How about reminding the international community that temporary leniency is likely to lead to a greater evil eventually devouring countries of shared interests?

Interestingly, the Washington Post decided to publish both Ma and Huang’s letters on the same day in parallel, showing a balanced presentation.

While one cannot fathom the real reason behind the choice — whether it was purely coincidental or the newspaper did not want to buy into Ma’s perspective — Taiwanese media outlets in comparison showed an apparent lack of professionalism by largely overlooking Huang’s letter.

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