Mon, Feb 08, 2010 - Page 3 News List

MTAC shifts on Mongolia, Tibet policy

U-TURNAn ex-official at the office in charge of Tibetan and Mongolian affairs said that the new focus could mean derecognition of the Tibetan government-in-exile

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) is making a 180-degree turn in its policy direction — from enhancing Taiwan’s relations with Mongolia and the Tibetan government-in-exile to promoting cross-strait exchanges.

“Little by little, MTAC has been pushing for exchanges [between Taiwan] and Mongolian and Tibetan regions in China,” MTAC chairman Kao Su-po (高思博) said at the commission’s lunar year-end press conference yesterday. “This year, we plan to invite doctors from [China’s] Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to attend training lessons in Taiwan to enhance the skills of medical workers in the region.”

Besides training doctors in Inner Mongolia, Kao said MTAC would also provide help to Inner Mongolia in preventing disasters brought by sand storms, as well as promoting exchanges in culture, public health and trade between Taiwanese and Mongolians and Tibetans in China.

“We are the supporting agency in cross-strait exchanges,” he said.

Addressing the Cabinet’s plan to subsume MTAC into the Mainland Affairs Council in 2012, Kao said the change could help MTAC “find a proper place when dealing with Mongolian and Tibetan affairs” as far as the Constitution is concerned.

Former MTAC member Sue Wang (王時思), however, disagreed with the new policy direction.

“MTAC must remember that it is part of the government of an independent country and that China is also an independent country. It would be odd for the policy objective of a government agency in this country to interact with ethnic groups in another country,” Wang told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview. “Following the same logic, should we also set up special commissions for dealing with African-American affairs or Caucasian-American affairs?”

Although MTAC was created in 1928 — when the Republic of China (ROC) government was still the legitimate government of China — to deal with Mongolian and Tibetan affairs, the agency was turned into a supporting agency in foreign affairs under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration form 2000 to 2008, Wang said.

“As the ROC government used to regard Mongolia and Tibet as part of the ROC, both the Mongolian government and the Tibetan government-in-exile did not trust Taiwan. Mongolia even protested against the inclusion of Mongolia in the ROC map,” she said. “But during the DPP administration, the change in MTAC’s role helped Taiwan establish mutual trust with the Tibetan and Mongolian governments.”

In fact, MTAC may no longer consider the Tibetan government-in-exile a government at all.

Asked by the Taipei Times why MTAC would not accept the verification of authenticity of Green Books issued by the Tibetan government-in-exile for people who claim to be Tibetan refugees, Kao said the verification must come from “a proper government authority” and that the verification from “an exiled Tibetan organization” is not enough.

“This is just the opposite of what we used to do,” Wang said. “In the past, we would confirm the identity of a Tibetan refugee if the Tibetan government-in-exile could verify the person’s Tibetan refugee status.”

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