Newly appointed Council of Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) came in for a bit of an embarrassment yesterday after he recognized only two of the nine men on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee in an extemporaneous quiz at the legislature.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) questioned Wang’s knowledge of Chinese affairs during a question-and-answer session, displaying pictures of the nine bureau members, who effectively rule China, and asking him who they were.
Wang only recognized Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Hu’s heir apparent, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is expected take over as party secretary during the 18th party congress next month and as president next year.
When the picture of CCP Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) was shown, the 43-year-old Wang, standing at the podium, was completely baffled.
Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), seated in his chair in the left side of the legislative chamber, was spotted saying it was Jia.
“This is Wu Bangguo (吳邦國),” Tsai said when Wang was unable to reply promptly, adding: “Who is he? Jia Qinglin. You don’t even know him? These nine people are the souls of the CCP. I assumed that you would know at least three of them, but you know only two. You don’t even know Jia Qinglin. That really surprises me.”
Wang defended himself by saying: “It takes some time [to recognize the individuals].”
Just prior to the legislative session, Wang formally took over from his predecessor, Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), at a handover ceremony, where he said he was not unfamiliar with cross-strait affairs.
“When I served as spokesperson of the Presidential Office and as an advisory member of the National Security Council, I often took part in the decision-making for policies on cross-strait issues and diplomacy,” Wang said at the ceremony.
Wang said he was familiar with cross-strait affairs despite lacking experience in the area, and said he would push forward cross-strait policies in a practical and stable manner.
“Cross-strait affairs under the council are not strange to me and I will continue to push forward policies that put the public’s interests as top priority,” he said.
The appointment of Wang by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last month sparked criticism that he has no foreign relations experience and he had been picked just because he was a close confidant of Ma.
The pan-green camp says the appointment of Wang, and that of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) secretary-general Lin Join-sane (林中森) as Straits Exchange Foundation chairman, will complicate Taiwan’s cross-strait affairs and negotiations by putting a pair of inexperienced officials in charge.
Meanwhile, Lai, who is now the nation’s representative to the WTO, defended her efforts to help reinstate cross-strait negotiations and promote cross-strait exchanges during her term as head of the Mainland Affairs Council.
She also dismissed concerns about her political affiliations as a former member of the pan-green Taiwan Solidarity Union before joining the Ma administration four years ago.
“What matters is to use his or her expertise and push for the development of the nation. Whether one belonged to the pan-blue or pan-green camps is not an issue,” she said.