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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Two years on, history repeats itself

On Wednesday last week, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Yushu County in northwestern China’s Qinghai Province. At the time of writing, the death toll had surpassed 2,000, with the number of injured exceeding 10,000. Earthquakes are natural disasters and as such are very difficult to predict. However, both this one and the major quake that devastated parts of Sichuan Province two years ago have led to a human tragedy exacerbated by the political system in China.

First of all, experts issued a warning before the earthquake hit, but China Earthquake Administration (CEA) officials did not take it seriously. The same thing happened with the Sichuan earthquake, when at least two seismologists issued a warning that was later suppressed by the authorities, who were concerned that the news would have an effect on the Olympic torch relay prior to the Games in Beijing.


Tung, Ma, Article 23 and an ECFA

In its strategy for the unification of Taiwan and China, Beijing has not only been transparent about its intentions, it has also relied upon tactics that proved effective in the past.

After a lull in such efforts for the greater part of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration, Beijing reignited its drive following the election of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as Taiwanese president.


ECFA gun pointed at Taiwan’s head

Let’s compare notes on two discourses, one implemented in 1979 and another that emerged soon after President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration proposed signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

The first is the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), whose Section 2b(4) states that it is the policy of the US “to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”


Inside Taiwan’s Political Purgatory: Lee Teng-hui, a profile in courage (Part 11 of 20)

Lee Teng-hui is Taiwan’s elder statesman having served as President of the Republic of China in-exile from 1988 to 2000.   Lee bridged the chasm between the martial law period under the dictatorship of Chiang Ching-kuo to his own elected presidential term.

Lee was a reluctant member of the Kuomintang political party and parted ways after his terms in office ended when the KMT expelled him. Still, Lee’s involvement in the KMT was difficult for his pro-democracy friends. Lee is also a former Communist Party member during his college days in Taiwan.


Government policy will sow further division

Welcome to China” — the greeting I received at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Policy Foundation in January is symptomatic of current cross-strait developments in Taiwan. The government’s cross-strait package of technical agreements and the forthcoming economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) will drain Taiwan’s political energy and divert attention away from other key matters for years to come. This is unavoidable as the government’s policies are out of touch with reality. Indeed, they blindly inflate divisions instead of attempting to unify people in Taiwan’s divided society.

The cross-strait package also diverts attention from efforts to inform others about what Taiwan can bring to the world. Instead, an increasing amount of hard work is now being spent to correct misunderstandings about Taiwan in Europe. For example, an ECFA is believed to be an approach that fits with the EU’s “one China” policy.


Balance of power sees Ma aligned with China

In 1972, before then-US president Richard Nixon’s visit to China, US national security adviser Henry Kissinger was expounding his “balance of power” theory. This saw the US working with China to keep the Soviet Union in check over the next 15 years. Another 20 years on, the US president has changed tack, teaming up with Russia against China.

This rotation of the triangle of relations between the three powers took place almost 20 years later than Kissinger had predicted, but now we have US President Barack Obama’s administration concentrating once more on US-Russia relations: They recently signed the first nuclear weapons pact between the two countries in two decades. The US has clearly decided its best bet is to lean toward Russia to keep China under control.

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US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, has warned China not to interfere in Taiwan’s presidential election and promised to support Taiwan’s democracy in every way she can.

In a wide ranging speech -delivered in Los Angeles on Saturday, Ros-Lehtinen called on US President Barack Obama to sell F-16C/D aircraft to Taipei and to work to improve relations with Taiwan.

“Taiwan remains a great beacon of democracy in East Asia and an important strategic ally in a key region of the world,” she said.