As the first anniversary of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration approaches, she has given a series of interviews in which her China policy has been especially important.
Generally speaking, in the interviews Tsai has softened her tone and called on Beijing to be open minded and show a willingness to be flexible, as a great country should be capable of doing. She compared the cross-strait relationship to an exam that both sides of the Taiwan Strait must complete.
According to Tsai, the “new situation, new test paper and new model” calls for structured and concerted efforts from both sides.
If Beijing is unwilling to work with Taiwan by abandoning its bureaucratic ways, cross-strait relations cannot move forward, she said.
Tsai is willing and ready to begin a constructive dialogue with Beijing. She has reaffirmed her long-standing views on cross-strait relations — the need to maintain the “status quo” and avoid provocations and surprises.
Despite her earnest and non-provocative message, state-owned Chinese media have said that Tsai is obstinate and have mocked her efforts as trying to sell the same old ideas with a new label.
It has even been said that China is used to having little interaction with Taiwan, so there is a risk that Tsai’s statements have fallen on deaf ears.
China’s response was predictable.
What is surprising is the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) continued support for China at the expense of Taiwanese, despite its sinking popularity.
The KMT has criticized Tsai’s recent remarks as “a contribution to an essay-writing contest” and mere “word play.”
Former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who is running in the KMT chairpersonship election, criticized Tsai’s cross-strait policy, calling it “confusing” and said that if she is unable to resolve the standoff, she should just accept the so-called “1992 consensus” or the “one China, different interpretations” view.
The “1992 consensus” was invented for political reasons. Former Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) has confirmed that Taiwan and China never reached a consensus.
While China uses the “consensus” to support its “one China” principle, the KMT accepts it in the hope of winning favor with Beijing.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did not even dare to speak the name “Republic of China” when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) face to face in Singapore.
The “1992 consensus” and the “one China, different interpretations” view are self-defeating. They have lost all credibility and were dismissed by Taiwanese in last year’s presidential and legislative elections.
However, Wu is playing the card again, and he is demanding that Tsai accept it. Old habits die hard.
The “1992 consensus” shows that the bilateral relations praised by the KMT and Beijing during Ma’s administration was nothing but showmanship, lies and hypocritical cunning.
Beijing’s so-called “peaceful development” is its biggest trick.
Taiwanese are a peace-loving people; China knows this and is going into battle with a smile, opening economic and trade exchanges, making concessions and allowing large numbers of Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan.
It appears to have softened its approach using a carrot-and-stick strategy; but China has never given up the possibility of unification by force.
US Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, told the US Congress last week that any attempt by China to coerce Taiwanese to unite would be unacceptable. This was a simple and unambiguous warning.
While he was president, Ma cooperated with Beijing by claiming that cross-strait relations were better than they have been in 66 years, deceiving himself and the public with talk of “peace dividends.”
He played along with China’s strategy to gradually annex Taiwan.
Ma was feeling good about himself and Taiwan lost the ability to discern between friend and foe, and surrendered its psychological and national defenses.
After Tsai was sworn in to office, Taiwan stopped playing along and China was upset, which has resulted in frequent petty moves such as freezing official contacts, greatly reducing the number of Chinese tourists, restricting Taiwan’s diplomatic space, sending ships and aircraft into Taiwan’s waters and airspace and the detention of Taiwanese right advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) on the preface of protecting its national security.
Beijing has even prevented Taiwan from participating in the World Health Assembly (WHA) and the Kimberly Process meeting.
Tying bilateral relations to the “1992 consensus” and saying that “goodwill comes with preconditions” is not a sound approach and it cannot continue.
Beijing, after failing to impose its one-sided preconditions, then tried to blame Taiwan for the deterioration of cross-strait relations.
Such behavior shows that China harbors ambitions to annex Taiwan.
The KMT’s willingness to collaborate with China on this is disgraceful.
China’s actions against Taiwan in the past year have aroused discontent, but the KMT has not changed its attitude toward Beijing, and is afraid of criticizing China.
Instead, the KMT directs its opposition toward the Tsai administration. A political party that cooperates with the enemy at the expense of its own people can have no future.
As the ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fears offending China and so it is cautious, doing its best to maintain the “status quo,” while lacking the determination, courage, vision and means to promote the normalization of the nation, thus failing the expectations of voters.
If Taiwan is prevented from attending this year’s WHA, the reaction of Taiwanese is likely to have a direct effect on political parties and the government, which would be reflected in Taiwan’s relations with Beijing.
Taiwan’s China policy must no longer be governed by self-deceit.
Translated by Tu Yu-an and Lin Lee-kai
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at a ceremony on July 30 officially commissioned China’s BeiDou-3 satellite navigation system. The constellation of satellites, which is now fully operational, was completed six months ahead of schedule. Its deployment means that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is now in possession of an autonomous, global satellite navigation system to rival the US’ GPS, Russia’s Glonass and the EU’s Galileo. Although Chinese officials have repeatedly sought to reassure the world that BeiDou-3 is primarily a civilian and commercial platform, US and European military experts beg to differ. Teresa Hitchens, a senior research associate at the University of
There are few areas where Beijing, Taipei, and Washington find themselves in agreement these days, but one of them is that the situation in the Taiwan Strait is growing more dangerous. Such a shared assessment quickly breaks down, though, when the question turns to identifying sources of rising tensions. Several Chinese experts and officials I have consulted with recently have argued that Beijing’s increasingly belligerent behavior in the Taiwan Strait is driven mostly by fear. According to this narrative, Beijing is worried that unless it puts a brake on Taiwan’s move away from the mainland, Taiwan could be “lost” forever. They
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who died on Thursday last week, coined the phrase “new Taiwanese” and used it in some of his public speeches. The concept of “new Taiwanese” was an important link in the chain of his political thought. Lee proposed the term in August 1998 on the eve of the anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. His intention was to consolidate a common understanding around the idea of “new Taiwanese,” and to embody the Taiwanese spirit of never giving up and not fearing hardship, and to create bright prospects for generations to come. However, after