EDITORIAL: Wanted: a government with spine

Thu, Aug 02, 2012 - Page 8

What good is a government when it cannot defend its national dignity and act against intimidation and belittlement by others?

Sadly, the administration under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) fails to do exactly that; it easily wimps out when confronted by its bully neighbor, China.

Last week, the Taiwanese public was treated to a pathetic display of the Ma government’s cowardice in the case of the Republic of China (ROC) flag at the London Olympics.

Despite later confirmation from Regent Street Association director Annie Walker, whose group organized the flag display, that the ROC flag was removed because of a complaint from the Chinese embassy, the Ma government is still too cowardly to issue a condemnation denouncing China’s malicious obstruction.

Less than a week later, Taiwan had its sense of national dignity trampled on again — and again it was because the Ma government was too spineless to stand up for the nation’s sovereignty.

Well ahead of the annual forum between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Sunday, Ma on Thursday last week stressed to former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), leader of the KMT delegation to the forum, that his government promotes cross-strait relations under the “one China” principle, in which “one China” refers to the ROC.

However, when Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) said in his speech on Sunday at the KMT-CCP Cross-Strait Economic Forum that the core of the “one China” framework is that “the mainland and Taiwan belong to one country; a cross-strait relationship is not one between countries,” Wu did not dare to let out even a squeak of objection.

So much for Ma’s trumpeting of the ROC’s sovereignty and talks of how “one China” refers to the ROC, when all such remarks crumple piteously the instant they are put to the test in the presence of Chinese officials.

Many remember how the Mainland Affairs Council sponsored a TV spot promoting the dignity of the ROC national flag by utilizing the tag line: “Wherever the national flag is initially located, [it should] remain there.”

Many also vividly recall how, in the run-up to the presidential elections earlier this year, Ma’s re-election campaign put out a number of TV spots promoting the ROC national flag and reiterating the ROC’s sovereign status. The Ma government allotted a whopping budget last year to a series of year-round promotional activities such as concerts, exhibitions, fireworks shows and cycling tours celebrating what it called the ROC centennial.

However, what good is all this clamoring and cheering for the ROC when the moment the nation’s dignity is offended and belittled by China on the international stage, the Ma government fails miserably to tackle the issue head-on?

Indeed, the pattern is all too familiar — and very much disturbing: trumpeting to a domestic audience how proud the government is of the ROC national flag and how seriously it takes the ROC’s sovereignty, but as soon as the audience includes members of the international community and Chinese officials, the Ma government loses its tongue.

As upholding one’s national dignity should come naturally to any government, Ma and his officials have rightfully earned themselves the title of being a spineless bunch, for time and again failing to uphold the nation’s dignity and assert Taiwan’s sovereignty.