The Presidential Office yesterday said it was regrettable that former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had attributed China’s recent military activities near Taiwan to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus,” saying that narrative ignored the real situation in the Taiwan Strait.
China’s military activities extend beyond the Taiwan Strait to the Pacific, and anyone with a grasp of the international situation understands that China’s disturbance of regional peace is unprovoked, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said.
Huang made the remarks in response to Ma, who yesterday, at a forum in Taipei titled “A Nation Unsafe,” said Taiwan is leading itself into a perilous situation with the Tsai administration’s pursuit of a foreign policy that slants heavily toward the US and antagonizes China.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
Tsai was re-elected this year on a platform to “counter China and protect Taiwan,” but “has Taiwan really become a safer place?” Ma asked.
He cited a report issued in June by International Crisis Watch, which listed the Taiwan Strait as an area where the situation has deteriorated, along with the Korean Peninsula and the China-Indian border.
Ma said that thanks to the peace that he maintained in the Strait during his presidency from 2008 to 2016, China had even delayed the launch of the M503 northbound flight route, just 7.8km west of the Taiwan Strait median line, which Beijing arbitrarily launched in January 2018.
The shift in China’s attitude toward his and Tsai’s administrations was prompted by Tsai’s refusal to acknowledge the “1992 consensus,” which eliminated the basis of mutual trust between Taipei and Beijing, he said.
The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
The Tsai administration has conspired with the US against China, which has effectively placed Taiwan in the center of an international power struggle, propelling it toward a perilous situation, Ma said.
When two military and economic superpowers battle, the best policy for Taiwan is to “keep its distance,” Ma said.
However, the Tsai administration has submitted to Washington’s every whim, readily agreeing to join its side of a new “cold war,” and has even concurred with the US in the South China Sea arbitration, which has hurt Taiwan’s sovereignty over Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), he said.
He said that Tsai, in response to concerns that the nation would be used by the US as a “chess piece” in disputes with China, has said her administration is a “chess player” that goes with the tide.
However, Ma said that international observers have warned that US President Donald Trump could cross Beijing’s red line over the Taiwan issue, which would likely prompt more military activities from both sides.
If Beijing were to use force against Taiwan as a way to push Washington to make concessions, Taiwan would turn from a chess piece to an “abandoned son” and ultimately a sacrifice, he said.
Although Tsai in January said in a BBC interview that invading Taiwan would be “very costly” for China, Ma said that the Ministry of National Defense’s think tank in 2018 published an analysis asserting that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would win a hypothetical conflict swiftly before the US could send reinforcements, making the “first battle the last.”
Although Washington in the past few years has passed a string of Taiwan-friendly legislation, including the Taiwan Travel Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, they are largely perceived as “lip service,” and are no guarantee that the US would come to the nation’s aid in the event of a Chinese invasion, Ma said.
The bottom line is that the Tsai administration should not take sides in affairs between the US and China, but work to achieve a balance in its international relations to serve the nation’s best interest, he said.
Huang disputed Ma’s claims that only by endorsing the “1992 consensus” could the nation prevent war, saying that accepting it is equal to accepting Beijing’s “one China” principle, which would belittle the nation and is resolutely opposed by a majority of the public.
Whether Ma’s remarks stemmed from nostalgia or a lack of understanding of international affairs, equating the protection of sovereignty with courting war is highly inappropriate, and such assertions would not win public support, Huang said.
In the face of China’s oppression, the nation should not relinquish its sovereignty, democracy or freedom, but rise up against an autocracy by uniting its people in soliciting international support, he added.
Separately, Executive Yuan spokesman Ting Yi-ming (丁怡銘) said it was perplexing that a former president would collude with China to terrorize the public with war and tout a trumped-up “1992 consensus.”
The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday said that the KMT is clinging to the “1992 consensus” because of its failure to recognize the CCP’s scheme to invade the nation and expand its hegemony, and its inability to see that acknowledging the “1992 consensus” would surrender the nation’s sovereignty is dangerous.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed regret that Ma, as well as Su, who made similar comments at the forum, invalidated the nation’s defense and diplomatic efforts.
Ma and Su are trying to isolate Taiwan from wider global relations and push the nation closer to China, but their “defeatist” arguments have deviated from the mainstream opinions of the public, the ministry said.
It said that Chinese expansionism has caused escalating tensions in the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and on the China-India border, and threatens democratic countries.
As a responsible member of the world, the government prioritizes the need to safeguard democracy and sovereignty, while continuing to work with Taiwanese to defend national security, it added.
In response to the criticism from the Democratic Progressive Party-led (DPP) government, Ma Ying-jeou Foundation director Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑) yesterday called on the DPP leadership to stop returning to its old trick of labeling its critics “pro-China” and leveling made-up charges.
Rather, it should address the views of international observers on the situation in the Taiwan Strait, he said.
Additional reporting by Lee Hsin-fang, Lin Chia-nan and Shih Hsiao-kuang
COMMUNICATION: A US representative said that Starshield is inactive in and around Taiwan, which could put US military personnel at risk in the Western Pacific in a conflict Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) might have contravened its Pentagon contract by not providing access to its satellite communication network Starshield in and around Taiwan, a letter from a US House of Representatives committee to the company said. In September last year, the US Department of Defense awarded SpaceX a one-year contract for Starshield access, worth US$100 million. A few months before that, the Pentagon also commissioned SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network to be used by Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s invasion. Starshield is a derivative of Starlink intended for military use. SpaceX has long worked closely with the US military and intelligence agencies, which
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China
KINMEN: Coast guards on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should prohibit the entry of illegal vessels into ‘restricted’ waters to uphold maritime safety, Chen Chien-jen said Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approach the security of Kinmen and Xiamen waters with rationality and equitability, following a boat chase that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week. Chen was responding to media inquiries ahead of a legislative session amid rising cross-strait tensions following the capsizing of a Chinese speedboat off the east coast of Kinmen on Wednesday last week during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard. The Ministry of National Defense established the boundaries of “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen in 1992 to better protect
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: TSMC founder Morris Chang said he has high hopes for the new fab, based on his experience in Japan 56 years earlier, and amid high demand for AI Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday held an opening ceremony for its first chip manufacturing fab in Kumamoto, Japan, which it hopes will improve chip supply resilience and help Japan usher in a semiconductor renaissance. The Kumamoto fab is slated to enter volume production in the fourth quarter of this year. The Japanese government said it would extend its financial support of the project to include the construction of a second factory, as TSMC’s investment is crucial to its efforts to revive its semiconductor industry. The Kumamoto fab is owned by a joint venture, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc (JASM), which