Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said recently that the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) rule has caused an unprecedented crisis for Taiwan’s sovereignty. The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) responded with a statement that it “strongly resented” Tsai’s “unsubstantiated comments.” The council said that the basic premise of its cross-strait policies have always been to put Taiwan first and benefit all Taiwanese, and that a closed-door policy will weaken Taiwan strategically, eat away at Taiwanese identity and sacrifice the interests of all Taiwanese.
Tsai’s comments seem valid and it is the council’s strong resentment that appears unsubstantiated. Under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the government has been falling over itself to get into bed with China and has loosened the restrictions on Taiwanese investment in China to an unprecedented degree and at an unprecedented speed. Ma has accepted the so-called “1992 consensus,” which doesn’t even exist and has used it as the basis for cross-strait negotiations.
Ma has been eager to announce to the world that his government and the Chinese government agree that Taiwan and China both belong to “one China.” Beijing has taken advantage of this to belittle Taiwan, calling it “Taipei, China” and continuing to contain Taiwan diplomatically. We must ask Mainland Affairs Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) if this is not an objective description of the unprecedented crisis now facing Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Taiwan is an independent and sovereign nation and Ma was elected as president on this basis. During the campaign, Ma said he was competing for the presidency of a sovereign country. Once he was elected, however, especially since taking office, he has viewed Taiwan merely as a part of China. He believes the best name to use when Taiwan applies for membership in international organizations is “Chinese Taipei” (中華台北.) In order to please Beijing, Taiwan calls itself “Taiwan Region” on visas for Chinese tourists. Ma has also been content to be referred to as “Mr” instead of “President.”
Again, Lai should say whether Taiwan’s name change to “Chinese Taipei” and “Taiwan Region” as well as the use of “Mr” to refer to the president represent an unprecedented crisis in terms of sovereignty.
During Ma’s campaign, he adopted the mainstream view that the “status quo” must be maintained. Since the election, however, his intentions for unification have become evident.
Judging from Ma’s inaugural speech and policy talks, we can conclude that he does not think Taiwan has any sovereignty at all and that Taiwan is just a geographical term in the “one China” context. In the past, the country on the other side of the Taiwan Strait was commonly referred to as China. Since Ma’s election, it has become “Mainland China” to emphasize that both China and Taiwan are parts of “one China.” These changes in terminology make one wonder if Ma’s statements that the 23 million people of Taiwan must decide its future may already be changing to “Taiwan’s future must be decided by the 1.3 billion people of China.”
Ma has been promoting policies he believes to be beneficial without consulting the public and he has made keeping good relations with China his priority. He has been leaning toward China both economically and politically and this has caused grave concern from countries concerned with security in the Taiwan Strait such as the US and Japan.
Ma’s recent fawning on China has also made those Taiwanese who support unification voice their opinions after having been relatively silent for more than a decade. One long-time unification supporter has openly said that, “The great unification of China is a historical and cultural heritage passed down among the Chinese people over 3,000 years” and that, “Unification with China has become the general trend and it is just a matter of when and how unification will be achieved.”
This is an atmosphere that has not been seen in Taiwan for more than a decade and it has been caused by Ma’s talk of eventual unification. The “Great Unification” mentioned above represents a reversion to old ways that the Taiwanese do not want to see.
Taiwan is indeed facing an unprecedented sovereignty crisis. Ma’s election and the KMT’s control of both government and legislature cannot be viewed simply as a change of government in a normal democratic nation. It implies that an alien regime is using Taiwan’s democracy to restore its hold on power. Taiwan’s path toward normalization could once again turn toward Sinicization, for the KMT are very adept at using talk about economic benefits to sugarcoat the poison they use to bring Taiwan toward annexation.
Ma’s recent actions are not based on putting Taiwan first and benefiting the Taiwanese, but rather on putting China first and hurting the Taiwanese.
Those determined to uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty must be prepared for this crisis and they need a sense of mission. They must gather and consolidate their energy to get ready to rule Taiwan once again. They cannot just sit down and watch while “the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait” turn Taiwan into a piece of meat on a chopping board.
Translated by Drew Cameron
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