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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Ma muddying the waters

Ma muddying the waters

The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan has no official diplomatic allies in the EU. With the exception of the Vatican, it has no official allies in Europe at all. This does not prevent the ROC — Taiwan — from having close relations with EU member states and other European countries.

The exact nature of the relationship does bear revisiting, if only to clarify what is a very complicated and sensitive idea, the details of which leave considerable room for misunderstanding, misrepresentation and disagreement.

Only this week, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) received members of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China (note the reference to the PRC, not the ROC on Taiwan), led by Reinhard Butikofer, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received members of the Romanian-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Vice president-elect Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) has also been visiting parliamentary groups in Europe prior to taking up her post as vice president in May. On Sunday, Hsiao was received by Member of the European Parliament Othmar Karas on behalf of European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, spoke with Butikofer, and visited the Czech Republic, Poland and Lithuania on a tour of Central and Eastern European countries. There, she met with several parliamentarians, including Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil.

The importance of Hsiao’s European trip, and Tsai’s and the ministry’s reception of the EU delegations, is to promote person-to-person relationships with parliamentarians in the absence of official ties. This necessarily involves articulating the distinction between the ROC on Taiwan and the PRC.

Taiwan Corner chairman Michael Danielsen writes on this page about an article published in Danish newspaper Berlingske the same day Hsiao was meeting EU parliamentarians about how in interactions with the Danish state, a Taiwanese’s nationality is now listed as “China.”

On the Taiwan Corner Web site, Danielsen writes that this seems to represent a “paradigm shift” in Denmark’s policy, drawing it more in line with the PRC’s “one China principle” and suggesting that it now regards Taiwan as part of China, an idea that is not touched upon in Denmark’s “one China policy.”

Danielsen says that this change is damaging to Denmark’s reputation on human rights. This is a legitimate concern, because it moves the Danish position closer to that of an authoritarian state at the expense of the citizens of the ROC, a democratic country.

The distinction between “citizens of the ROC” as opposed to Taiwanese nationals (not “Taiwanese citizens”) is important, because the official name of the country is not Taiwan, it is the ROC. This is not pedantry, it runs to the very core of why it is important to be constantly refining the nature of Taiwan’s predicament in how it pertains to its ties with friends in the international community.

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is preparing another trip to China, again in the capacity of the head of a private foundation and at Beijing’s invitation. Ma Ying-jeou Foundation director Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑) has even hinted that Ma could meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Ma says he is trying to improve ROC-PRC relations and to cool tensions in the Taiwan Strait. He knows that he is also muddying the waters regarding the understanding of Taiwan’s status internationally.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2024/03/27

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A pro-Taiwanese independence civic group embarked yesterday on a weeklong journey to New York City to advocate the country’s right to bid for UN membership under the name Taiwan.

At a press conference held in Taipei yesterday before their departure, the group said “the annual trip to New York marks a continued effort by the people of Taiwan since 1979 to express their wish to be recognized by the UN.”