President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has challenged the US-Japan security pact with its actions and announcements in the recent dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as Senkaku in Japan, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official said yesterday.
The administration’s reactions and behavior in the most recent controversy surrounding the dispute, which saw 14 activists from Hong Kong landing on the islands and being arrested by Japanese police on Wednesday, “could only lead to reasonable speculation that it is collaborating with China to oppose Japan on the issue,” said the official, who is familiar with international affairs.
The official wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak for the party on the matter.
According to the official, Taiwan could have stayed out of the fray this time, “but a Coast Guard Administration vessel provided supplies to the Chinese-flagged fishing boat from Hong Kong and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for Japan to immediate release the 14 activists.”
Those were “strange reactions” which could infuriate Japan and further confirm its suspicions about Taiwan-China collaboration, the official said.
US Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing on Wednesday that the incidents were “provocative acts.”
Ma could face two immediately negative impacts — protests from Japan, as well as demands for an explanation from the American Institute in Taiwan of the coast guard’s assistance to the activists.
“The US-Japan security pact has been seen as the foundation for peace in East Asia, but what we saw was Ma keeping on challenging the crucial international mechanism,” the official said.
The activists flew Republic of China (ROC) flags alongside People’s Republic of China (PRC) flags and Chinese newspapers altered the ROC flags on the photographs of the landing they published.
These developments have created even more disputes and concerns, proving that Ma was not serious about his proposal of an East China Sea peace initiative, the official said.
Separately yesterday, DPP Chairperson Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said in Taoyuan County that even though Ma proposed a peace initiative, he allowed a government vessel to protect a fishing boat with activists carrying PRC flags.
Ma then sent a coast guard vessel to provide supplies to the Hong Kong fishing boat, with activists chanting: “The Diaoyutais are Chinese territory” and “Taiwan is part of China,” Su said.
“The activists’ claim and Ma’s handling [of the matter] were against the collective will of the Taiwanese people and were provocative,” he added.
Meanwhile, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) told a press conference that Ma’s national security team has repeatedly failed to come up with appropriate responses at the right time to the Diaoyutais dispute.
Although Ma had pledged not to work with China to resolve the issue, he did not convince anyone and had involved other countries through his actions, Lin added.