Wed, Nov 26, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Ma still hopeful of WHA membership

ANALYSTS DEMUR Former envoy to the US Joseph Wu said China experts feel that Taiwan should not expect much from China in terms of increased international space

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday he hoped the country would join the World Health Assembly (WHA) next year, but a former diplomat said the idea that Beijing would relax efforts to shrink Taiwan’s international space was wishful thinking.

Ma thanked the European parliament for supporting Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as he met members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe at the Presidential Office in the afternoon,

“It is the goal we are striving for and we hope to reach it next year,” he said.

Former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), however, was not optimistic.

Wu, who once served as head of the Mainland Affairs Council, said that Taiwan should not “expect too much” from Beijing in terms of increased international space.

The conclusion he drew from exchanging views with China scholars was that there was “little to expect from Beijing” and that it was “an issue that it was not going to go anywhere,” Wu said.

“We shouldn’t expect too much any time soon ... I don’t have any illusions at all,” he said, noting that Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Guangya (王光亞) said in September that Taiwan must follow a memorandum of understanding signed in 2005 if it hoped to participate in WHO-related activities.

Some of his friends in the US who have extensive contacts with Beijing have come to the conclusion that the Chinese are extremely stubborn about Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, he said.

“They advised us not to expect too much,” he said during a question-and-answer session at a forum organized by the Taiwan Thinktank on the prospects and challenges in the wake of the Taipei meeting between Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

Byron Weng (翁松燃), a professor of public policy at National Chi Nan University, said that no government tactics should be deemed incorrect unless the price it paid for them was too high.

The four agreements signed by Chiang and Chen may be what many people wanted, including the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the business community. The international community might also welcome the Chiang-Chen meeting, but Chen’s visit showed that Ma’s policy was quite costly, Weng said.

“President Ma paid a personal price because his words of reassurance did not sound right when one observed the actions of his government,” he said.

The independence movement may encounter increasing difficulties as talks between the KMT and Chinese Communist Party continued, Weng said, and the DPP and the independence campaign might feel less certain of their future.

“If the DPP is further weakened because it is still not in a position to ‘deliver’ what the people want. If the DPP cannot function effectively as the opposition, the independence movement and its supporters will have reasons to seriously worry about Taiwan’s sovereign future,” he said.

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