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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Behind China’s words lies self-interest

Behind China’s words lies self-interest

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Many experts are currently discussing the pros and cons of signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

However, remarks made by both the Taiwanese and Chinese governments and their representatives have deviated so far from common sense that the ECFA has already morphed into something never before heard of in the history of diplomacy.

The first oddity: Regardless of whether one is buying an apple or a piece of real estate, at its most basic such an act constitutes a transaction and such exchanges only ever take place when they meet the interests of both parties.

Failure to meet this condition invariably means that a deal will not take place.

Intergovernmental negotiations follow the same principle. Before negotiations, such things as what one considers acceptable and one’s bottom line are kept secret.

Whether or not to haggle or sign an agreement is then determined by the conditions set forth by the two sides.

In such a situation, how can it make sense for one party to declare that the agreement “must” be signed at all costs and even setting a time limit for its inking?

This is essentially the same as handing over one’s weapons to the enemy before the battle has even started and cannot but be considered an unfortunate joke.

However, this is exactly what the Taiwanese government has done.

In normal democracies, officials making such remarks would be forced to step down and governments displaying such ineptitude would have to face a vote of confidence in parliament and thrown out of office.

The second oddity: Whether private transactions or negotiations between governments, both sides are presumed to be working towards maximizing their respective interests.

However, during the talks on an ECFA between Taiwan and China, representatives of one of the parties announced that they would make “concessions” to the interests of the other party.

In short, they agreed to forgo elements of a deal that would be in the best interests of their country.

This is what the Chinese government has said. In a normal country, representatives that make such comments would be removed from their positions immediately and subjected to investigation.

Such a government would also face a legislative vote of no confidence and be replaced.

Of course, China is not a normal country, nor is it even a democracy.

China has done everything it can to attack Taiwan verbally, through military threats as well as diplomatically by limiting Taiwan’s international space.

It is only when China talks about signing an ECFA with Taiwan that it suddenly appears generous and thoughtful.

Instead of feeling honored and favored by such “forbearance,” the Taiwanese need to be made aware of the ill intent that hides behind China’s sweet talk.

These strange events are reported in the media on a daily basis.

If the Taiwanese public continues to ignore such oddities, I see no end in sight to the many abnormal situations that plague our society.

Peng Ming-min is a former presidential adviser.


Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2010/04/26

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