Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum in Taipei, former Singaporean minister for foreign affairs George Yeo (楊榮文) proposed a “Chinese commonwealth” as a potential framework for political integration between Taiwan and China. Yeo said the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait is unsustainable and that Taiwan should not be “a piece on the chessboard” in a geopolitical game between China and the US.
Yeo’s remark is nothing but an ill-intentioned political maneuver that is made by all pro-China politicians in Singapore. Since when does a Southeast Asian nation have the right to stick its nose in where it is not wanted and make judgements on cross-strait relations?
Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), and former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) were on such cordial terms that Chiang signed an agreement called “Project Starlight,” allowing Singapore to dispatch troops to Taiwan for training. With that history in mind, perhaps Yeo thought he could “help” decide the fate of Taiwan by helping to spread Beijing’s propaganda.
Neither Taiwan nor China is made up of a single ethnic group. Terms such as “Zhonghua minzu” (中華民族, “Chinese nation”) or “Chinese people” were invented to support pro-unification ideology. Even in Singapore, only three-quarters of the population are considered “Chinese” or are the descendants of Chinese people.
Perhaps Yeo should first conduct a survey in Singapore by asking how many Singporeans are willing for Singapore to form a “Chinese commonwealth” with China. If the majority approved, Yeo could then sell the idea to Taiwan.
The UK and the US are democratic countries. Despite their shared language and history, and overlapping in religious beliefs and legal principles, as well as ties that reach back hundreds of years, they are close allies and independent entities that have each other’s backs. They are not a “commonwealth.”
In the case of China and Taiwan, anyone can see that the two have more differences than similarities, in terms of political systems, ideologies and values, not to mention distrust and no feelings of kinship. How could this become a “commonwealth”?
Beijing has always accused other nations of interfering in China’s internal affairs; why is it now being oddly silent about Yeo’s stupid remark?
Hung Yu-jui is a Japanese-language teacher and translator.
Translated by Rita Wang
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