Lawmakers across party lines yesterday urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand an apology from a US Republican congressional candidate for using the flag of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to represent Taiwan in a TV campaign ad.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) told Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) that it was “disappointing” and “infuriating” to see the ministry’s “cowardice” and “incompetence” in the face of such an incident.
A campaign ad run by Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny against incumbent Bill Owens of New York, questioning him about his trip to Taiwan last year, showed a picture of Owens and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) with the PRC flag in the background.
The ministry declined to comment to “avoid interfering in the election.”
Tsai said the ministry should have asked Doheny to correct the mistake and apologize.
“If you had lodged a protest against the use of PRC flag in the ad, it would have raised a discussion about Taiwan’s sovereignty in the US,” Tsai said.
It was “a huge missed opportunity” because the ministry could have demonstrated that China does not have sovereignty over Taiwan, Tsai said, adding that the ministry failed to do so because of its “communist-phobia mentality.”
Lin disagreed, adding that Tsai’s criticism of the ministry was “too much.”
Lin said that the ministry had contacted Doheny’s campaign office and they had come to an understanding that the use of PRC flag in the ad was a “mistake.”
“Timing was truly a concern. We didn’t want to influence the election,” Lin said.
Tsai demanded that the ministry ask for an apology from Doheny and that the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US call a press conference to clarify the matter to avoid any possible misunderstanding that Taiwan is part of the PRC.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chan Kai-chen (詹凱臣) supported Tsai’s proposal.
“The ministry must register a protest and voice our solemn position on the matter. You can say that we did not mean to interfere, but the flag used in the ad was wrong,” Chan said.
Lin was present at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday to review the ministry’s budget statement for the next fiscal year.