Defending the government’s efforts to strike deals on visa privileges with other nations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Minister Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday likened critics’ concerns over sovereignty erosion to “sovereignty masochism (主權自虐狂).”
“When I hear the opinions [of the critics], I am confused why [there are people] coming up with what amounts to ‘sovereignty masochism’ and the thought that sovereignty has been downgraded,” Yang said when addressing a handover ceremony for two MOFA officials.
A total of 114 countries and territories have granted Republic of China (ROC) passport holders visa-free or landing-visa privileges, with the number increasing by 61 since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) assumed office in May 2008.
While government officials have boasted about the achievement, which they have also referred to as a manifestation of the nation’s sovereignty, some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have argued otherwise.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), among others, cited Hong Kong and Macau as examples to refute the ministry’s claims, saying passport holders of the two regions are allowed to enter more than 140 and 90 countries respectively without visas.
Yang yesterday hit back at the critics, saying he found them in a “self-belittling” frame of mind to compare Taiwan to Hong Kong and Macau.
The visa-waiver deals were earned by the ministry via negotiations on behalf of the ROC government, which is a sovereign state, but it is the Chinese government that exercises control of foreign affairs on behalf of Hong Kong and Macau, Yang said.
According to article 145 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong must obtain authorization from the Chinese government in advance of negotiations on visa-waiver privileges with other countries, Yang said.
“The ROC, as a sovereign state, doesn’t need authorization from any other country to negotiate visa-free privileges,” he said.