Leaked US cables show that China’s diplomatic service was “unhappy” with what was interpreted as Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) “tacit acceptance” of the “diplomatic truce” strategy advocated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
When he assumed the presidency on May 20, 2008, Ma sought a “diplomatic truce” to end a longstanding tug-of-war with China in which both countries tried to poach each other’s diplomatic allies by offering large sums of foreign aid.
A number of leaked US cables released by WikiLeaks suggest that Chinese officials in charge of diplomatic affairs and Taiwan affairs have been divided on the issue.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
A cable dated Jan. 16, 2009, from the US embassy in Beijing quoted Jin Canrong (金燦榮), a professor at Renmin University, saying that “the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] is still opposed to the ceasefire, in part because it means ‘fewer ambassadorships’ will be available to MFA career diplomats.”
“Jin claimed the MFA is particularly unhappy because five countries that currently recognize Taiwan are willing to switch their recognition to the PRC [People’s Republic of China], but the MFA has been forced to give up this ‘achievement’ because of pressure from the TAO [Taiwan Affairs Office] to observe the ‘diplomatic ceasefire,’” the cable said.
Jin said the “ceasefire” would hold as long as “Hu continues to side with the TAO” over the MFA, the cable said.
The same cable made a mention of a fifth point addressed by Hu in his speech delivered on Dec. 31, 2009, marking the then-30th anniversary of the “New Year’s Message to Taiwan Compatriots” that stated “avoiding internal strife in external affairs is conducive to furthering the overall interests of the Chinese nation.”
The statement was interpreted by Chinese academics as Hu’s “tacit acceptance” of Ma’s “diplomatic truce” strategy, the cable said.
Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷), Secretary-General of the National Society of Taiwan Studies (NSTS), was quoted in the cable as telling the US embassy that “Hu could not formally mention the ‘diplomatic ceasefire’ because it implies the existence of two countries.”
The cable quoted unidentified US experts, who met with Ma on Jan. 13 that year, as saying that “Ma said this phrase and Hu’s endorsement of a ‘comprehensive economic cooperation agreement’ were the two positive responses from Hu to Ma’s proposals.”
Meanwhile, in another cable dated Aug. 20, 2008, Zhou “commented that the PRC is observing a diplomatic truce, but admitted the issue is divisive in Chinese policymaking circles” as he described to US officials “three political fault lines in the Chinese Government’s internal debate over the diplomatic truce.”
“The first is an institutional dispute between the MFA, which wants to score more diplomatic allies, and the TAO, which wants to avoid inflaming public opinion in Taiwan by orchestrating humiliating diplomatic defections. The second division is along age lines, with older cadres wanting to keep the diplomatic battle going and younger ones less inclined to fight for the last few small states. Lastly, a difference of opinion exists between scholars who are in favor of the truce and some older government officials, who tend to be more cautious,” Zhou was quoted as saying in the cable.
Another cable originating from the American Institute in Taiwan dated Sept. 21, 2009, quoted Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) as saying that “it was not clear that PRC diplomats had responded to President Ma’s ‘diplomatic truce’ by being less aggressive in efforts to isolate Taiwan.”
“One possible explanation, Yang said, was that PRC diplomats overseas had not yet been given instructions on how to deal with their Taiwan counterparts. Certainly, he noted, the PRC Foreign Ministry was notoriously conservative on Taiwan issues. Finally, it was possible that instances of apparent ill-will by PRC diplomats reflected individual actions, rather than a coordinated MFA effort,” the cable said.
There was a net reduction last year in the number of Taipei residents and this year is expected to set a 23-year high for population decline in the city, Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday showed. From January to last month, 18,861 more people moved out of Taipei than moved into the capital, an increase of 7,000 from the same period last year, the data showed. That is a 7.2 percent decrease in the city’s population since the start of the year, the biggest drop in both percentage and total number among all municipalities and counties nationwide, the data showed. The data
COUNCILS CLASH: The Mainland Affairs Council said a new office in Hong Kong is to assist people with issues related to investment, study and employment in Taiwan The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday denied an accusation by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council that its Taiwanese counterpart in the territory was “interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.” The Hong Kong council leveled the accusation after Taipei’s Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council this month announced it would establish a Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to facilitate humanitarian aid for Hong Kongers. The new office is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday. The MAC yesterday asked the Hong Kong council to “not misinterpret” the government’s intentions. The two Taiwan-Hong Kong councils were established in 2010 to
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also