Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Isle dispute a test of Ma’s China policy

NON-COLLABORATION:The president’s pledge of non-cooperation with China on the Diaoyutai issue is likely a result of pressure from the US and Japan, analysts say

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) renewal of his pledge not to collaborate with China over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) dispute has varying implications for China, Japan and the US, and also runs counter to his administration’s “one China, with different interpretations” policy, political analysts said yesterday.

Ma on Monday said Taiwan would not cooperate with China on the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutais, known as the Senkakus in Japan, and listed three reasons behind the pledge.

Taipei would not collaborate with Beijing on the issue because China has never recognized the legitimacy of the Treaty of Taipei of 1952, nor has it responded to Ma’s East China Sea Peace Initiative, the president said, adding that Beijing hoped the sovereignty issue would be kept out of the fishery talks between Taipei and Tokyo.

While Ma has always argued that sovereignty over Taiwan was transferred from Japan to the Republic of China (ROC) in the Treaty of Taipei, his latest pledge “basically means that the People’s Republic of China [PRC] has no legal ground to claim sovereignty over Taiwan” because of China’s disclaimer of the treaty, said Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank.

Based on Ma’s reasoning, sovereignty over Taiwan was transferred to the ROC in 1952 — and not to the PRC under the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the PRC in 1978, Lai said.

“In other words, Taiwan has never been a part of PRC territory, under Ma’s theory. And that means Ma’s initiatives — the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ and ‘one China, with different interpretations’ would not hold,” Lai said.

The renewed pledge was likely a result of pressure from Japan and the US, he said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has always insisted on non-collaboration with China on the issue and was happy to see that Ma holds the same view, said Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), director of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs.

Ma’s reiteration of the pledge was likely in response to pressure from Washington, which had doubts about Ma’s handling of the issue, and might also be related to DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) recent visit to Tokyo, said a senior DPP official familiar with international affairs, but who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak.

Japan also showed the same concern, especially after a skirmish between its coast guard patrol and a fishing boat carrying protesters to the waters near the Diaoyutais last month, the official said.

Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a researcher at Academia Sinica, said the pledge appeared to be Ma’s reassurance to Washington and Tokyo on a controversial initiative he made in Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) in September last year, when he called for a trilateral dialogue between Taiwan, Japan and China to resolve the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutais.

The pledge could also be Ma’s attempt to “bargain” with China after listing three reasons for non-cooperation, Lin said, adding that the pledge “was welcomed because it made Taiwan’s position clearer.”

However, Japan and the US would monitor what Ma does rather than what he says on the Diaoyutai dispute, especially if protesters decide to sail off to the islands in the future, Lin said.

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