The incident in which Philippine Coast Guard personnel shot and killed a Taiwanese fisherman has caused a great deal of animosity toward the Philippines in Taiwan. Chinese military experts have attacked the strength of the Philippines’ national defense capabilities, saying that it has neither an air force nor an army worth the name, nor a single decent airplane or warship, and that the country would not pose any problems for the Taiwanese military.
However, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III appeared to have another “special weapon” in mind when he said that, based on the “one China” principle, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei would be the main unit handling the issue.
This is not the first time that the Philippines has turned the “one China” principle against Taiwan. The strategy is far more harmful to Taiwan than any ship or weapon. Despite that, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has not learned his lesson. He clearly knows the dangers of the “one China” concept, but still continues his “one China” policies.
Each time the Philippines responds to Taiwan citing the “one China” principle, the damage increases. In early 2011, the Philippines extradited 14 Taiwanese accused of involvement in a fraud case to China, and now Taiwan has been further denigrated following the death of a Taiwanese fisherman. If Ma never learns, we cannot really blame the Philippines for its inconsiderate behavior.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) has responded to the issue by saying that although cross-strait relations is a gray area, Ma’s incompetence and constant fawning on China dispels the ambiguity and destroys the equality that Taiwan has insisted on in the past. Huang says Ma is banging his head on the ground with such force every time he kowtows to China because he wants the world to hear it.
One could say that Ma’s cross-strait policy is to blame for the Philippines using the “one China” policy to place Taiwan in check: Ma wants “one China” and that is precisely what the Philippines is giving him. One could also say that if the Philippines does not arrest the guilty parties, apologize, compensate the family of the slain fisherman or change its “one China” stance, Ma has shamed himself in front of the nation.
During his five years in office, Ma has repeatedly shifted what originally was an ambiguous cross-strait relationship closer toward “one China,” placing the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China under the same roof. After being re-elected last year, he promptly proposed the so-called “one country, two areas” formula, according to which Taiwan and China are two areas of the ROC, thus denigrating Taiwan one step further. Not long ago, Ma went further still by suggesting that cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations, in an attempt to further blur and finally eliminate the border between Taiwan and China.
Compared with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who used a series of constitutional amendments to highlight Taiwan’s position as a nation with 23 million citizens, Taiwan’s national sovereignty has been weakened under Ma, and this should worry anyone with the slightest insight into the situation.
On July 9, 1999, Lee used an interview with the radio station Voice of Germany to declare his “state-to-state” model of relations between Taiwan and China, rather than domestic Chinese relations between a legal and a rebelling government or between a central and a local government.
A comparison makes it clear that Ma’s five years of “hard work” has shifted relations between Taiwan and China toward domestic Chinese relations under the “one China” concept.
The international community has, of course, paid attention as Ma has moved from the position that there is “one China with each side having its own interpretation” of what that China means to the view that there is “one country, two areas” and then further still by saying that cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations.
Since Ma denies that Taiwan is a sovereign country, it of course becomes very difficult for the international community to treat Taiwan as if it were sovereign. It even makes it difficult for them to treat Taiwan as a nation whose sovereignty is in the process of being clarified and consolidated as it was during Lee’s presidency, when Taiwan moved toward becoming a regular normalized country. The killing of the Taiwanese fisherman and the Philippines’ “one China” approach is making everyone clearly see the danger of Ma moving toward the “one China” trap.
If it turns out that the life of the fisherman has been sacrificed for the sake of the “one China” policy, the lives and property of 23 million Taiwanese will also be endangered, and the sacrifice of Taiwanese lives will become a bargaining chip for China as it pursues its hegemonic policies.
In other words, the Taiwanese have lost what Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has called the “Taiwan dream” and are left with the “China dream” that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) would like to shove down their throats.
The government should do what is right in connection to the shooting incident — bring justice to the family of the killed fisherman and restore national dignity — while Ma should realize that the “one China” formula is a rope made for hanging people with. He must not willingly put it around his own, and Taiwan’s, neck.
Translated by Perry Svensson