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
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