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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Ma’s cross-strait efforts prove futile

Ma’s cross-strait efforts prove futile

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Of all the things that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has done while in office, he is most proud of his “accomplishments” in cross-strait relations.

He has said that “the principle of ‘one China, with each side having its own interpretation’ embodies cross-strait mutual recognition of sovereignty and mutual non-denial of the other’s right to govern; while the insistence on the ‘1992 consensus’ allows us to safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic of China (ROC) and Taiwan’s dignity.”

It is, then, a bit of a slap in the face for Ma at this point, just shy of the end of his final term, that China has forced the Kenyan government to deport Taiwanese nationals accused of criminal activity in that country “back” to China, in an intentional show of Beijing’s unilateral interpretation that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to China, and that a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has voiced his approval that other countries “are upholding the ‘one China’ principle.”

There are other principles involved here, of course, such as the principle that nations have the right to deal with their own nationals. In this case, the Taiwanese involved should have been processed by Taiwan. That Beijing pressured the government of Kenya to send eight Taiwanese to China was, in itself, a clear violation of this principle, as it is of international conventions governing situations such as these.

This case not only reveals that there has been little progress on cross-strait mutual assistance and exchanges on judicial affairs; it also, and more importantly, violates Taiwan’s sovereign rights and laws, and the human rights of the people involved.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA, 司法互助協議) on mutual respect of each side’s judicial rights was the first cross-strait agreement signed.

Just days after Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) called upon China to assist in extraditing Taiwanese criminals to Taiwan, China put pressure on the Kenyan government in this way, and wants to make the MLAA a “domestic” agreement.

Beijing’s unreasonable behavior is counterproductive, to say the least. Not only is it a slap in the face for Ma and Luo; it will also put ordinary Taiwanese more on guard against China.

China is, right now, making changes to the “status quo,” and gradually eroding the stance it has had concerning Taiwan for the past eight years. As of last year, Beijing had limited its definition of cross-strait relations to “both sides belong to ‘one China.’”

In last year’s meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Xi talked of both sides of the Strait belonging to “one nation,” an idea that Ma failed to reject or deny, either during the meeting or since. The repercussions of this tacit acknowledgement could not be anything but serious.

Ma’s administration has essentially changed the situation and accepted the contention that cross-strait issues are an “internal matter”; the so-called “non-state-to-state relations” have changed so that Taipei is now subordinate to Beijing. This Kenya extradition case is just a manifestation of that development.

This situation has real implications, unlike Ma’s trips to Itu Aba (Taiping Island, 太平島) or Penjia Islet (彭佳嶼), both of which were just for show. The extradition of Taiwanese to China has seriously damaged Taiwan’s human rights, sovereignty and right to self-govern. However, the government is powerless in the face of this in the waning days of Ma’s final term. The hotline to Beijing Ma was so keen to emphasize has been left off the hook.

Recently, with the controversy over K-pop singer Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), the reduced number of Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan and the Gambia diplomatic relations situation, together with the forced extradition crisis and Beijing ignoring the Ma administration’s remonstrances, have left Ma in dire straits.

China has basically thrown him to the lions. The myth of his cross-strait relations accomplishments has been revealed for what it is: a myth.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2016/04/13

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Social Democratic Party convener Fan Yun, center, appears at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

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