China, a self-proclaimed ancient civilization, has stooped to furtively trying to include Taiwan as part of its national map by including it in the new People’s Republic of China (PRC) passports.
In this way, it has tried to lay claim to Taiwan’s sovereignty and disputed territories claimed by China and three other countries.
In the face of the Chinese threat, India, the Philippines and Vietnam have all staged strong protests, and the US has refused to endorse China’s claim.
However, in Taiwan, despite Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi’s (范姜泰基) protest on Nov. 23, it seems that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) does not dare to strongly dispute the claim.
This underhanded trick on the part of China is simply Beijing’s realization of the logical conclusion of Ma’s rather optimistic “one China, with each side having its own interpretations (一中各表).”
If he denounces China’s claim, Beijing will surely argue that each side has its own interpretations of “one China.”
What can he do except beg the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has indulged his administration from Day One, to give him a break in return for his successful deception of Taiwanese voters?
In response to China’s audacity, Ma has decided to retaliate in a “civilized” way, so Beijing is unlikely to gain international support under such circumstances, even if it loses its temper.
Meanwhile, he hopes that his dignified response, conforming to universal values as it does, will give Taiwanese a sense of glory that has faded in recent years, and might even boost his dire support ratings.
However, what is Ma’s so-called “civilized” response?
This is a question that he needs to ask himself. Since the CCP’s 18th National Congress ended not long ago, he has gone out of his way to play the “yes man,” refusing, for example, to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama. Is this civilized? Is this glorious?
Shame on him. Especially given the alarming state of the economy at the moment, those in power should perhaps be encouraging spiritual leaders to visit Taiwan to give members of the public some kind of spiritual comfort. The authorities claim that the timing of the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit was “inappropriate.”
However, in my opinion, the timing of the visit is perfect, and Taiwan should approve his application and issue him a visa immediately. Ma does not need to comment, because there is no need to shout when one retaliates. Even school children understand that this is called “diplomatic retaliation.”
Since time immemorial, retaliation has been a recognized part of foreign relations. What one might term the “equivalence principle” is an unwritten rule, that of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
By responding to like with like, Taiwan can maintain its dignity, and clarify its stance clearly and definitely. It can also prevent such pernicious attempts to test it, and ultimately prevent the risk of war.
Why is the issue harmful to Taiwan?
Although this Chinese trick is unlikely to be significant in terms of the recognition of national territory within the international community, as indeed the US Department of State has pointed out, Taiwan should clarify its stance and take action in order to warn China not to take advantage of it.
If Ma dares not denounce Beijing’s actions and take retaliatory measures, then he is not fit for his post and should resign for being a lousy president.
Christian Fan Jiang is deputy secretary-general of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Eddy Chang