China has done it again, buying a Taiwanese ally with a very large sum of money. It is highly regrettable that 42 years of Taiwanese-Malawi relations apparently meant little to a Malawian government in thrall of US$6 billion. And it is laughable that China continues to attack Taiwanese diplomatic interests with not so much as a response from supporters of the cross-strait "status quo" in the US.
This circus was designed to embarrass the Taiwanese government and President Chen Shui-bian (
This is a near replay of July 2002 when Nauru, in a convenient coincidence, announced it would recognize China on the day Chen was sworn in as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
However, the KMT is living in a fantasy land of Chinese benevolence judging from his claim yesterday that his "three noes" pledge -- promising no move toward unification or independence and no use of force -- would pave the way for long-term peace in the Taiwan Strait and satisfy Beijing.
In a world of genuine benevolence, Taiwan would have gained international space following the agreement reached between former KMT chairman Lien Chan (
We're still waiting for any sign of it.
Beijing could also have ended its hunt for Taiwan's allies as a sign of goodwill following KMT Legislator John Chiang's (
In March, two referendums will be held in tandem with the presidential election. One is a DPP-initiated referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan," and the other is a KMT-proposed referendum on "rejoining" the world body using the official name of the Republic of China, or any other "practical" title that would uphold the nation's dignity.
Regardless of which version the public supports, the referendum questions offer Taiwanese a fine opportunity to let the world know that their country wants to be treated with respect and recognized as part of the world community.
If neither referendum passes -- a grave possibility given the KMT's penchant for boycotting plebiscites -- the message would be bleak and difficult to undo: If Taiwanese can't assert themselves and claim a place on the world map, then how can they denounce others for swapping allegiances?
China can and should be criticized for poaching Taiwan's allies, but so should those Taiwanese who can't be bothered to stand up for themselves.
Over the past year, scores of gargantuan Chinese sand dredgers have deployed themselves in territorial waters off the Taiwanese-administered Matsu Islands, where their activities erode beaches and ruin fishing shoals. These Chinese ships are mercenary; a small 5,000 ton ship could sell a load of sand for the equivalent of US$55,000 to Fujian construction firms — or to the People’s Liberation Army for use in building its artificial reefs in the South China Sea. They also frustrate Taiwan’s government, which tries unsuccessfully to cooperate with Beijing on environmental stewardship of their contiguous waters. Each day, Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels can
On Monday last week, a formation of 16 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes flew over the South China Sea near Malaysian Borneo and intruded into the airspace of Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. Although it was not the first incursion into Malaysian airspace by Chinese military aircraft, it was the first time such a large formation had been dispatched by China. It was yet another worrying indication that Beijing senses an opportunity to aggressively shape the post-COVID-19 world in its own image and has stepped up its plans to expand the frontiers of its empire well beyond the limits of its
With Taiwan’s COVID-19 “ring of steel” breached, the public is demanding vaccines, and politicians are calling for vaccine imports to be expedited. However, the manner in which the debate is being conducted leaves much to be desired. Some people believe that companies and nonprofit groups should be allowed to import vaccines. This is not as simple as it sounds. The mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech need to be stored at extremely low temperatures during their transportation from overseas manufacturing plants to the clinics that administer them. Regarding the BioNTech vaccine, its export from the EU requires complex paperwork and procedures.
With more controversies upsetting the nation’s fight against COVID-19, government agencies need to regain the public’s confidence. Being more transparent would be a good start. Over the past week, several politicians have apologized for failing to prevent more COVID-19 deaths, including President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中). They must be frustrated to see their globally acclaimed victory from last year being denounced. However, their apologies must ring hollow to the grieving families and those who have no access to rapid testing kits or COVID-19 vaccines. To make matters worse, a Taipei-based clinic