Both Beijing and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration have disgraced themselves as their denouncements of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) indicate their “outdated ways of thinking,” former representative to Japan Koh Se-kai (許世楷) said yesterday.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan Affairs Office on Friday made hard-hitting comments about Lee’s visit to Japan, on the heels of Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen’s (陳以信) statement earlier that day that Lee had “humiliated” the nation and “forfeited its sovereignty” when he said that the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkakus in Japan, belong solely to Japan. The islands are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.
Lee reiterated his position on the issue when answering questions at a meeting at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday.
In a press release, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) called Lee a “stubborn Taiwan splittist” and condemned Tokyo for assisting his visit and becoming involved in Taiwan separatist activities despite the objections of Beijing.
Saying that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s “core interests,” Lu urged Japan to stick to the “one China” policy and abide by the political principles stated in their bilateral political documents, including the Japan-China Joint Communique of 1972, to “refrain from creating a new political barrier for the two countries.”
Late on Friday night, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said China opposes any country providing a political platform for Taiwan separatist activities.
Ma Xiaoguang echoed Chen’s condemnation of Lee over the issue of the Diaoyutai Islands while also joining the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and the party’s spokesperson Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) in castigating Lee for his remarks that “glamorized Japan’s colonial rule in Taiwan.”
Lee’s “despicable” behavior shows that forces advocating Taiwan independence have caused “extreme harm” to peaceful development of cross-strait relations and to the interests of zhonghua minzu (中華民族, people of Chinese ethnicity), which will surely be “spat on by compatriots from both sides,” Ma Xiaoguang said.
Koh, who was the nation’s representative to Japan from 2004 to 2008 under the Democratic Progressive Party administration, yesterday said that Beijing has “overreacted” to Lee’s visit.
“Former president Lee has been out of office for more than 15 years. As an ordinary citizen, he should not be subject to any limits on overseas visits. China is such a big country. How could it be so small-minded?” Koh said.
The way Ma’s administration, the KMT and Beijing reacted to Lee’s visit, during which he advocated the values of democracy, mutual respect and the rule of law, was a manifestation of their lack of understanding of values that have been universally embraced in the modern era, Koh said.
Koh said the development of human rights has long arrived at a point where people have the right to decide their own place in the international order, while the KMT and the Chinese regimes still adhere to a kind of nationalism that dates back to the eighteen century.
“Zhonghua minzu has never existed at all,” Koh said. “It is the right of the people in Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet to decide their destinies irrespective of a concept created by China aimed at enforcing its territorial and political borders.”
As the US has actively sought to become a stronger presence in Asia and with its alliance with Japan being the cornerstone of its policy in the region, mainly in response to China’s growing assertiveness, what Lee has proposed in Tokyo would greatly benefit Taiwan, Koh said.
“Taiwan has to ally itself with the US and Japan to reject China’s planned annexation,” he said.
When asked to comment specifically on Beijing’s denouncement of the former president, the Mainland Affairs Council avoided a direct response, saying only that the Republic of China’s (ROC) claim over the Diaoyutai Islands should be respected by all parties so the dignity of the nation can be upheld.
Separately yesterday, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said he disapproved of the assertion of Lee that the Diaoyutai Islands are rightfully Japan’s.
The Diaoyutais and all the islands in the South China Sea are integral territory of the ROC, Chu said.
“I would never concur with the view that the Diaoyutai Islands and South China Sea islands do not belong to the ROC no matter who is behind the contention,” Chu said.
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