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
Taiwan’s status in the world community is experiencing something really different; it’s being treated like a normal country. And not just a “normal” country, more like a valuable, constructive, democratic and generous country. This is not simply an artifact of Taiwan’s successes in combatting the novel coronavirus. It is a new attitude, weighing Taiwan’s democracy against China’s lack of it. Before I continue, I should apologize to the readers of the Taipei Times. I have not visited Taipei since the opening of the American Institute in Taiwan’s new chancery building in Neihu last year, so I was unprepared for the photograph
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
At a June 12 news conference held by the Talent Circulation Alliance to announce the release of its white paper for this year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) emphasized that, in this era of globalization, Taiwan should focus on improving foreign language and digital abilities when cultivating talent, so that it stands out from global competitors. I suggest the government should consider building a professional translation industry. If the public believes that there is a relationship between learning English and national competitiveness, then the nation must consider the social cost of language education. This should be assessed to maximise educational effectiveness: Is
There have been media reports that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plans to hold military exercises in August to simulate seizing the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) in the South China Sea. In the past, only Coast Guard Administration (CGA) personnel have been stationed there, but the Ministry of National Defense has dispatched the Republic of China Marine Corps to the islands, nominally for “ex-situ training,” to prevent a Chinese attack under the guise of military drills. The move is only a temporary measure and not sufficiently proactive. Instead, the government should officially declare sovereignty over the islands and station troops