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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times An awkward silence on Oct. 1

An awkward silence on Oct. 1

October, when both Taiwan and China celebrate their national days, is an awkward month. For the past 60 years, it was enough to ignore China’s national day celebrations. But with relations changing, the government is criticized no matter what it does. Every country in the world sent representatives to the celebrations in Beijing or sent congratulatory telegrams. The only country afraid of making any statement was Taiwan, which lately pays such careful attention to pleasing Beijing.

Even though the government’s pro-China stance is clear for all to see, it sought to dissuade retired military officers, legislators and national policy advisers from attending the celebrations in Beijing. The chairman of China Airlines was publicly berated by the premier, who called his attendance at the festivities “inappropriate.”

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) insists that neither side refutes the existence of the other, but if that were true, the government should have sent representatives to the celebrations.

Yet if the government had allowed politicians and businesspeople to attend, it would have violated a political taboo and ignored mainstream public opinion. That would have brought a storm of criticism from the opposition and sent the government’s approval ratings even lower.

The military equipment, missiles and tanks displayed in the parade through Tiananmen Square could be used against Taiwan in the event of a conflict and Taiwan’s defense minister has said our main potential enemy is China.

It is unacceptable that members of the ruling party would be allowed to visit the political center of our main enemy to applaud and cheer a display of arms that are a direct threat to this nation. The question is what the public thinks about this.

Cross-strait relations are not just a “special state-to-state relationship” as former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) put it, but a particularly awkward one.

Taiwan is the only country in the world that cannot call China “China.” If any other country referred to China as “the Chinese Communist Party” (CCP), “the Chinese communists” or “the Chicoms,” Beijing would protest.

By contrast, if Ma called China “China,” Beijing would see it as a major provocation. If the government were to send a telegram to congratulate China on its National Day, it would be tantamount to breaking off relations between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the CCP.

The ruling and opposition parties are both inconsistent on Taiwan’s national status and cross-strait relations. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has always held that China and Taiwan are two separate countries, said and did nothing on the occasion of China’s 60th anniversary. Its silence breached international protocol. The DPP could have wished China a happy National Day and thereby expressed its view that Taiwan is not part of China.

Now China’s National Day is over. This weekend Taiwan will mark its “Double Ten” National Day. What role will our government give to Chinese people in the celebrations? It could do as China did by inviting politicians from across the Taiwan Strait. It could, for example, invite members of China’s People’s Political Consultative Conference, as well as Chinese students in Taiwan or dissidents to take part. In that way, Taiwan could reciprocate China’s invitation.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2009/10/05



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Newsflash

The Formosa Club — a coalition of Taiwan friendship groups — on Tuesday congratulated Vice President William Lai (賴清德) on his victory in Saturday’s presidential election and voiced concern over apparent Chinese involvement in Nauru severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Nauru switched recognition to China two days after Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections, which the Formosa Club said in a statement was based on Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China, a misinterpretation of UN Resolution 2758.

The incident “highlights the fact that China has utilized the distorted interpretation of this resolution to isolate Taiwan internationally,” wrote 25 cochairs of the club, which comprises cross-party European and Canadian legislators.