President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on May 12 conducted a teleconference with the US’ Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Although Ma focused on his “three strategies” — to institutionalize the cross-strait reconciliation process, increase Taiwan’s contribution to international development and fuse national defense with diplomacy — he clearly stated the connection between the Taiwan Relations Act and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China (ROC), buttering up US academics by praising the US as a long-time ally. The ultimate goal was to treat the Taiwan issue as part of the Chinese Civil War at an international event.
Ma promoted the benefits that his reconciliation with China would bring to international business, and followed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in repeating the term “responsible stakeholder.” He seemed to have suddenly corrected his view that Taiwan should “move toward China, and then move toward the world through China” and instead agreed with Tsai’s strategy of “moving toward the world, and then moving toward China together with the world.”
However, not only did Ma conceal premises to the three strategies such as “under the framework of the ROC Constitution” and the so-called “1992 consensus,” he also ended his speech by stressing that “a country’s national security strategies must be based on full domestic political support. Our national security policies are based on the understanding that the ROC and its Constitution will never be altered.”
Obviously, Taiwan’s national security would mean nothing to Ma if there were no identification with China — Ma used the phrase “never-changing” to reinforce the importance of this. Ma’s frequent mention of “Taiwan’s democracy” and “responsible stakeholder” were simply cover-ups. And this isn’t just talk. The Ma government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have agreed to the WHO’s definition of Taiwan as a province of China.
When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007 misinterpreted the UN’s General Assembly Resolution 2758 as meaning that the UN had recognized Taiwan as being a part of China, the US and Japan immediately denounced him for it. Then, when former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) pushed for a referendum on self-determination in 2008, the US forced him to suppress the referendum, saying it would constitute a unilateral change to Taiwan’s status. Paying a heavy price, Taiwanese have learned a painful lesson: The “status quo” may not be changed unilaterally and they must play the role of the responsible stakeholder.
On the contrary, while the Ma government and the KMT have talked loudly about democracy, not being a troublemaker and not causing any unexpected incidents, they were also carrying out secret diplomacy; stealthily and unilaterally changing Taiwan’s status — replacing the view that neither Taiwan nor the ROC are sovereign states to one in which Taiwan is a province of China.
What Taiwanese do not understand is why Chen, who also tried to change the situation unilaterally, was sent to prison even before his changes had an effect, while the US praises Ma and says nothing even as Ma implements his unilateral changes and even as they are beginning to have an effect.
Taiwan’s status has a profound influence on US and Japanese security. As confused as the US’ diplomatic logic is now, how could it be able to lead Asian countries?
HoonTing is an independent Taiwanese researcher focusing on the issue of Taiwan’s status.
TRANSLATED BY KATHERINE WEI
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