A war of words over a remark by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) executive campaign director King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) in the US continued yesterday, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) requesting that the Ma camp provide clear answers on the matter.
“We demand that President Ma publicly explain who King speaks for and why a campaign manager could speak on major national security issues,” DPP spokesman Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said, referring to King’s comments on cross-strait relations in the US.
King — who is in the middle of a 12-day US trip — when asked whether Ma plans to visit China if he wins a second term in January’s presidential election said in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television in Washington that “there is a possibility.”
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
His comments prompted a strong rebuke from DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who accused King of breaching government protocol by discussing cross-strait policies, which she said should be announced only by the president.
King also talked about a possible cross-strait peace accord in a press conference in Washington, saying that “if it serves Taiwan’s interests, why not?”
“How can a campaign manager represent the president and speak on major policy on foreign soil?” Liang asked.
King’s subsequent explanation that the comments were only his “personal observations” was not acceptable because the issues are highly sensitive and could cause incorrect expectations from the Chinese, Liang said.
Several Taiwanese academics have been contacted by their Chinese counterparts, who wanted to know whether King’s comments represent Taiwan’s future China policy, he said.
Ma has spoiled King for too long simply because of their relationship, DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said, adding that Ma should clarify King’s comments as president.
Through such comments during his US visit, King has successfully diverted the media attention away from DPP presidential candidate Tsai, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.
Tsai arrived in Washington yesterday for a nine-day visit. Her arrival was delayed because her trans-Pacific flight had to return to Japan about 90 minutes after takeoff when a passenger suffered a heart attack.
Huang said King’s comments were a breach of protocol and comments on major policy should have been made by government spokespeople, not a campaign manager who holds no public position. King does not even hold an official position in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Huang said.
In a statement, the Presidential Office said Ma had no plans to visit China, nor engage in political negotiations with China because the “time is not ripe.”
“Tackling the easier and more urgent issues before moving on to more difficult and less pressing ones remains the principle for cross-strait negotiations. Economic issues precede political ones,” the statement said.
Presidential Office Spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said there was no urgency for political negotiations across the Taiwan Strait and that the Ma administration did not set a timetable for any political dialogue with China.
“President Ma also made it clear that he would only make official foreign visits, regardless of the purpose of the visits, as the Republic of China president,” he said.
At a different setting yesterday, Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強), the deputy executive director of Ma’s campaign office, defended King’s authority to discuss the development of cross-strait relations, urging the DPP to refrain from manipulating the issue for election purposes.
“As a KMT member and a former KMT secretary-general, there’s nothing wrong with Mr King discussing the possibility of cross-strait developments, as seeking to sign a cross-strait peace agreement with China is a goal in the KMT’s regulations,” he said.
Lo accused the DPP and Tsai of “illogically criticizing” King over his comments on cross-strait policies and challenged Tsai to “restrain” former DPP chairmen Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), two DPP campaign officials who often comment on cross-strait policies and national affairs.
Playing a recording of King’s interview with Phoenix Television at a press conference, Lo backed up King’s argument that the TV station quoted King “out of context.”
“The DPP challenged King’s authority in commenting on cross-strait issues as a distraction to prevent its own cross-strait policies from being examined,” he said.
Meanwhile, DPP vice-presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) described Ma as a “bounced-check president” and a “copycat president” during a press conference in Taipei.
Ma made his famous “6-3-3” campaign pledge in 2008, which means his administration would achieve annual GDP growth of 6 percent, an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent and a per capita income of US$30,000.
“None of those has been achieved,” Su Jia-chyuan said.
One more pledge Ma has not lived up was his promise to donate 50 percent of his salary if his administration failed in achieving the “6-3-3” goal, a promise Ma delivered in a presidential debate, Tsai’s running mate added.
As the most powerful president in recent Taiwanese memory, with a majority in the legislature, it would be difficult for Ma to find excuses for his failures, Su Jia-chyuan said.
Ma’s “incompetence” does not end there, DPP legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said, as the president so far “has tried to copy almost everything the DPP has done.”
For example, he said, Ma’s campaign decided to “shadow” Tsai’s US visit with an almost identical itinerary and it is ready to unveil its vision and policy for a “golden decade,” which will likely look very similar to the DPP’s 10-year policy guidelines.
“Electing Ma was a historical mistake and it is time for history to correct itself,” Ker said.
Additional reporting by CNA
‘UNPRECEDENTED’: Taiwan’s envoy said that official wording framing Taiwan-China issues as not about unification or independence counters the narrative Beijing wants Use of the phrase “democratic Taiwan” by Germany’s new coalition government in official document shows that Taiwan-China issues are not about “independence” against “unification,” but about democracy against authoritarianism, Representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said yesterday. Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Free Democratic Party and the Greens — known as the “traffic light coalition” for their colors — on Wednesday inked a coalition agreement following elections on Sept. 26. The agreement, a blueprint for their governance for the next four years, mentions “Taiwan,” which is unprecedented, showing that the new German government is paying close attention to cross-strait peace and supports Taiwan’s
BIDEN NOD: A China watcher said that the inclusion of Taiwan is notable, as it is the only democratic state on the list that Washington does not officially recognize Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) and Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) are to attend the US-led Summit for Democracy on Dec. 9 and 10, the government said yesterday, after US President Joe Biden announced the list of guests for the virtual event. The US Department of State on Tuesday announced a list of 110 invited participants, including Taiwan, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. China and Russia were not invited, and Beijing expressed anger at the decision to invite Taiwan. The summit is to revolve around three key themes: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting
‘BADGE OF HONOR’: Lithuanian lawmaker Dovile Sakaliene, who is on China’s travel ban list, said delegation members joked that they would be joining her on it soon A delegation led by the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan yesterday arrived in Taipei to participate in a conference on democracy later this week. The group, led by Matas Maldeikis, a Lithuanian lawmaker and an outspoken critic of China, touched down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 6:18am yesterday. Maldeikis said at the airport that he expected the trip to enhance understanding between Taiwan and Lithuania after cooperation between the two sides took a big step forward this past year. “This trip will be another step in understanding each other because we are dealing with the same challenges,”
GET A BOOST: After considering the potential for local outbreaks amid an increase in cases abroad, a committee recommended adolescents receive their second shots The level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended until Dec. 13, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday, as it advised people in six high-risk groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. It also recommended that adolescents aged 12 to 17 who had a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receive a second shot. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the nationwide level 2 alert would remain in place for two more weeks from today. Chen said that during New Year’s events eating and drinking might be allowed in designated areas, while