So there’s this senior official who is having an affair. He goes to a hotel where he gets up to things he would prefer no one else found out about. There, he is caught with his pants down, so to speak, and he scrambles around for a team of defense lawyers. He finds a team of three. Lawyer One tries to play the whole thing down, saying the official’s predecessor had got up to the same thing. Lawyer Two gets all sanctimonious about the fact that this was a secret rendezvous, demanding the head of the Judas who leaked the story. Lawyer Three opts for diversionary tactics, saying they got the lady’s name wrong, they used her husband’s surname — that’s not very polite, is it?
It’s a great story, and one which illustrates remarkably well the government’s response to the leaked WHO memo requiring that Taiwan be referred to as “Taiwan, province of China.” The whole “affair” adds an interesting spin to the centenary of the Republic of China (ROC).
Only Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添), knowing that he could not deny the existence of the memo and trying to contain the fallout, was sufficiently quick off the mark to say that the memo was of a “confidential” nature, not for the eyes of unauthorized personnel. The WHO is currently investigating how the memo was leaked.
The government was aware of the existence of the memo, as was China, of course, as it was behind the whole thing in the first place.
Therefore, it was no secret to either the government here or in Beijing. In fact, they made it confidential in order to keep it from the very people who should have been told about it — the Taiwanese.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) may well clench his fists and gnash his teeth, looking for all the world like he is “protesting,” but the question is, what exactly is it that he is protesting? At no point did he assert that Taiwan was not a province of China, or say that to claim it was did not comply with the facts. All he said was that this kind of behavior was unreasonable and unfair to the ROC, and that it was “inconsistent.”
Given that Ma accepts the “one China” principle, how can it possibly be unreasonable or unfair of the WHO to list Taiwan as a province of China? If he himself denies the state its dignity, how can he expect other people not to do the same thing?
The government does not dare point out the WHO’s error by emphasizing that Taiwan is not, in fact, a province of China. That the WHO maintains this, and has done so on several occasions, can really only have two explanations. The first is that China has made unilateral demands that the organization does so. The second is that the Ma administration has negotiated some form of secret agreement with China.
If Ma wants to prove his loyalty to Taiwan he should declare that he rejects the “one China” principle and point out that the term “Taiwan, province of China” is both erroneous and unacceptable. If he wants to demonstrate his loyalty to “100 years of the ROC,” he needs to release the records of all discussions, understandings and agreements struck by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmen Lien Chan (連戰) and Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), as well as all the other envoys he has sent over to China, for public scrutiny.
There are no international treaties that hand sovereignty of Taiwan to China. That is an incontrovertible fact. Anyone two-faced enough to give the right sound bites when electioneering while selling out the country doing secret deals does not deserve the trust of the electorate.
James Wang is a commentator based in Taipei.
TRANSLATED BY PAUL COOPER