Mon, Mar 04, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Commission gets the boot from Cabinet

TRIMMING THE FAT As part of the government's downsizing plans, the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission will be scrapped, though some of its functions will likely be continued elsewhere

STAFF WRITER

The Executive Yuan has reached an internal consensus to scrap the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (蒙藏委員會) as part of the government's downsizing plan, the Chinese-language Liberty Times reported yesterday.

The news came one month after the Cabinet's revision of a bylaw effectively excluding Outer Mongolia from ROC territory.

A consensus was reached at a meeting on government reforms on Saturday to reduce the number of ministries and councils to between 20 and 23, down from the current 36, according to the report.

The new government reforms will not start until May 2004.

A total of three proposals were submitted at the meeting, all of which include plans to abolish the Mongolian and Tibetan commission. The proposals also recommend that the commission's operations be merged into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) or an ad hoc task force under the Presidential Office.

The commission's chairman, Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄), told reporters that some of the commission's operations are still of value even though its current size is "neither necessary nor practical." The key question now is how to downsize the commission and merge it with another government agency, Hsu said.

Hsu recommended merging it with the MAC and creating a "Mainland, Mongolian and Tibetan affairs commission."

But the move will be tantamount to putting Beijing on the same status as Ulan Bator and is likely to anger the former.

Another option considered earlier was to merge it with the Hakka and Aboriginal affairs commissions and create an "ethnic affairs commission."

However, the option became void after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) declared that the Hakka and Aboriginal commissions would remain intact.

On Jan. 31, the Cabinet approved an MAC-proposed amendment to the Statutes Governing Relations between the People on Both Sides of the Taiwan Strait (兩岸人民關係條例) formally excluding Mongolia from the "Mainland China Area."

The amendment will allow the government to view Mongolians as foreigners and issue visas to them as such.

Whether Mongolia, better known in Taiwan as "Outer Mongolia," is part of the ROC has been a long-running debate in Taiwan even though Mongolia declared independence from China in 1911.

The KMT government did not recognize the country until 1946.

Under pressure from the Allied countries around the end of World War II, the KMT government signed a treaty with the Soviet Union in August 1945.

In the treaty, the KMT government agreed to recognize Mongolia's independence if a plebiscite confirmed the Mongolian people's desire for such.

Mongolia held a referendum in October that year and the electorate overwhelmingly voted for independence from China.

The KMT government recognized Mongolia's independence in January 1946.

However, after losing the Chinese civil war to the Communists and fleeing to Taiwan in 1949, the KMT regime back tracked on recognizing the Sino-Soviet treaty in addition to Mongolia's independence.

The Chinese Communist Party recognized Ulan Bator's independence soon after taking power in 1949.

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