KMT legislators vote down protest to China

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - Page 1

Although the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has expressed discontent with China’s “unacceptable” reply to a letter of protest filed by Taiwan over its new passport, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday in a vote in the legislature failed to pass a resolution asking China to respect the nation’s territorial sovereignty.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses yesterday co-initiated a resolution which would have been able to ratchet up pressure on China over its new passports, which bear images of two famous Taiwanese tourist destinations and include a map of the disputed South China Sea as part of its territory.

At the plenary session, the DPP and the TSU proposed that the draft resolution be placed on the agenda for discussion, but was voted down 42 to 57, with two abstentions.

The parties raised three demands. They were that the legislature adopt a resolution condemning China over the passport; that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) call an international press conference within a week to address the matter; and that the Executive Yuan refuse to recognize the new Chinese passport as a valid travel document to apply for entry into Taiwan.

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) last week wrote a letter to its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), to lodge the nation’s protest against the passport.

According to MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), ARATS dismissed the objection and said that the design of the new passport only became an issue after “pro-independence activists” had “made a fuss” over the matter.

At a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee, Wang said that the way Beijing had handled the matter was “unacceptable” and that the MAC would continue to tell China how Taiwanese people felt about its new passport.

Despite these protestations, the policy was not followed by action, at least not in the vote in the legislature.

KMT legislative caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the KMT voted against the proposal because it not only did not help to resolve the issue, but would complicate the matter by causing confrontations between Taiwan and China.

“We are not satisfied with the passports either, but the SEF and the MAC have been working on finding a solution,” Wu said.

Following the vote, some DPP lawmakers called a press conference to lash out at the KMT over its “cowardice in acquiescing to China’s arbitrary behavior.”

That the proposal was blocked by the KMT proved that Ma’s pledge to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty was just rhetoric, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

“[China] has spat in our face, but President Ma was not indignant about this and did nothing to protest. That’s why China continues to encroach on our sovereignty,” he said.

The government must take resolute and effective action to protect the nation’s sovereignty from being undermined, and not just pay lip service, Chen said.