When Beijing, at a UN tribunal over tensions concerning sovereignty in the South China Sea, included Taiwan and Penghu as part of its territorial claims, nobody in the government reacted or uttered a single word in response. When pressed about this by the media, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) merely said: “We protested this 55 years ago.”
However, 55 years ago, the Republic of China had a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, as the sole representative of China, and the People’s Republic of China did not have a seat. Back then, nobody listened to what China had to say. Today, the situation is reversed: Now, everybody listens when China speaks, while Taiwan has no voice.
Recently, China has been flexing its muscles wherever it sees fit. It has challenged Japan on sovereignty claims in the East China Sea, and it has tried to expand its claims in the South China Sea, using tactics designed to intimidate such countries as Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, showing them that a new bully is on the block, while insisting it is all part of its “peaceful rise.”
While exploiting the tensions in the South China Sea with a sleight of hand, it has slipped in a claim to Taiwan and the Penghu Islands as part of its ambition to annex Taiwan, and all the ministry can do is say, “Oh, we dealt with all this 55 years ago.” It is no wonder that Taiwan is less and less visible on the international stage.
The government boasts that Taiwan has visa waiver agreements with 130 countries, but for the most part this is a result of Taiwan putting aside certain passport requirements in compliance with the visa waiver agreements, and the courtesy of having a visa waiver program with Taiwan is a far cry from recognizing its sovereignty.
The government is so proud of its “diplomatic truce” with China and that it has not suspended diplomatic ties with any country in the time it has been in power, yet Sao Tomean President Manuel Pinto da Costa recently visited Shanghai and Beijing, which was hugely embarrassing for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration. Many of Taiwan’s allies are casting coy glances at China, and unless Beijing is concerned that pursuing closer ties with them would damage diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the situation could well escalate.
China boasts military might and prodigious economic clout, but Taiwan is still an economic force to be reckoned with in the global economy, and its commitment to democracy and human rights and its development model have all won it plaudits from the international community, despite the political infighting that still exists.
However, when Beijing violates the principle of “shelving controversies and pursuing a win-win solution” (擱置爭議、共創雙贏), which we are supposed to be following, the government here just feigns ignorance.
Also, when the media asks what China is trying to do during this UN tribunal, the ministry only offers a 10-character declaration — not one character critical of China — merely reiterating its stance of more than half a century ago.
When the ministry treats this serious slight to our sovereignty as a domestic issue, the thing that grates most is not the precarious international situation in which Taiwan finds itself, but rather that our government is reluctant to speak up and fight in our corner.
The controversy over the sovereignty issue has raged for decades and forgetting for a moment that the majority of countries and international organizations do not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, ordinary Taiwanese, in all manner of forums and in any way they can, still insist on flying our national flag, letting the world know that Taiwan still exists. Why, then, can the ministry not tell the world, at every opportunity it has, that Taiwan is a sovereign nation, and its sovereignty belongs to us — nobody else?
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has a good reason to avoid a split vote against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in next month’s presidential election. It has been here before and last time things did not go well. Taiwan had its second direct presidential election in 2000 and the nation’s first ever transition of political power, with the KMT in opposition for the first time. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was ushered in with less than 40 percent of the vote, only marginally ahead of James Soong (宋楚瑜), the candidate of the then-newly formed People First Party (PFP), who got almost 37
The three teams running in January’s presidential election were finally settled on Friday last week, but as the official race started, the vice-presidential candidates of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) have attracted more of the spotlight than the presidential candidates in the first week. After the two parties’ anticipated “blue-white alliance” dramatically broke up on the eve of the registration deadline, the KMT’s candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the next day announced Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) as his running mate, while TPP Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s TAIEX stock index peaked at 17,360 points and closed at 17,341 points, surpassing Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which fell to 17,303 points and closed at 17,541 points. A few years ago, the gap between the Taiwanese and Hong Kong stock indices was more than 20,000 points, but this was before the 2019 anti-extradition protests. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most important financial centers, but many Chinese Internet users joke that it is only a ruin today. When asked by a legislative councilor whether he would communicate with social media platforms in the mainland to request
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) has called on his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) counterpart, William Lai (賴清德), to abandon his party’s Taiwanese independence platform. Hou’s remarks follow an article published in the Nov. 30 issue of Foreign Affairs by three US-China relations academics: Bonnie Glaser, Jessica Chen Weiss and Thomas Christensen. They suggested that the US emphasize opposition to any unilateral changes in the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, and that if Lai wins the election, he should consider freezing the Taiwanese independence clause. The concept of de jure independence was first