Ma blasts Tsai over ‘diplomatic truce’

VIABLE VERSUS AGGRESSIVE::Instead of focusing only on China, the DPP aspires to engage both official and non-official allies to pursue mutual benefits, Tsai Ing-wen said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Dec 30, 2015 - Page 3

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday lashed out at Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for challenging his “diplomatic truce” policy, saying whoever opposed it has clearly forgotten the lessons of history.

The diplomatic truce, also known as “viable diplomacy,” is a policy proposed by Ma in August 2008 during his first year in office. It calls for a halt to China’s and Taiwan’s attempts to woo each other’s allies.

“Recently, some people have spoken against my viable diplomacy policy and intend to reinstate [former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁)] scorched-earth diplomacy,” Ma said during a speech at a ceremony to mark the promotion of military officers at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei yesterday morning.

Ma said that these individuals have apparently left behind the lessons of history and made such a misjudgement due to a complete lack of regard for international reality.

During Chen’s eight-year administration, Taiwan gained three diplomatic allies, but lost nine, Ma said.

“In contrast, the nation’s ties with all of its 22 allies have been warm and stable since I took office in 2008, with the only exception being Gambia, whose president severed relations with Taiwan [in November 2013] because of personal reasons,” Ma said.

Ma added that over the past seven-and-a-half years, the number of nations granting Taiwan visa-waiver privileges has increased from 54 to 158, which he said signified the success of his policy.

Ma made the remarks one day after his spokesman, Charles Chen (陳以信), issued a strongly worded and lengthy statement accusing Tsai of attempting to resume Chen’s scorched-earth policy.

The statement was prompted by Tsai’s remarks in Sunday’s televised presidential debate, during which she said Ma’s diplomatic truce has made Taiwan’s diplomatic affairs subject to China.

On Monday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) alleged that 18 of the nation’s diplomatic allies were seeking to switch sides to China because of their doubts about the DPP chairperson’s ability to stabilize cross-strait ties.

Tsai Ing-wen yesterday said the KMT has a habit of attaching labels to people.

The DPP’s stance is to promote aggressive diplomacy by reinforcing relations with nations that have official ties with Taiwan, as well as those that do not.

“We aspire to engage with them in a mutually beneficial manner and on the basis of solid friendship,” Tsai Ing-wen said.

“The government’s diplomatic truce has left many diplomats not knowing what they are fighting for and could only wait for someone to throw them a bone. This is not how a country should handle its diplomacy,” she said.

The DPP chairperson said diplomacy is a national matter that should transcend the blue-green divide and be handled properly, regardless of which political party is in power.

Treating it as an internal affair and using it as a tool of manipulation during election campaigns would be detrimental to the nation, she added.

Additional reporting by Chen Hui-ping