President Ma Ying-jeou returns to Taiwan today after concluding his first Africa visit to three diplomatic allies, where he downgraded his state visits to circus-like stunts in what he has gleefully called "sports diplomacy."
What he actually did there is outsource the work of expanding Taiwan's foreign relations to China, as he told Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabus Sibusiso Dlamini in public that Taiwan will not oppose its allies engaging in economic exchanges with China, as cross-Taiwan Strait economic exchanges have become frequent and close.
Ma is probably trying to allow China to take over Taiwan's economic assistance to its diplomatic allies. If so, we must ask: Was he consolidating Taiwan's foreign relations or undermining them? Did he have to travel all the way to Africa to make those kinds of remarks to our allies?
Over the past four years, the Ma administration has been content to implement its so-called "diplomatic truce" policy by refraining from applying for a seat in the United Nations as a sovereign state. Now, Ma is strengthening that policy by emphasizing the principle of "one country, two areas" in dealing with cross-strait relations.
While China has not been trying recently to wrestle Taiwan's diplomatic allies into its fold, this does not mean it has truly made peace with Taiwan on the diplomatic front. Rather, it has changed its strategy to one of slowly and painlessly killing Taiwan -- as in euthanasia -- internationally.
Ma's "diplomatic truce" is a means of preparing for "cross-strait diplomatic unification," as he has hinted to our allies that since the U.N. recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government representing all of China, Taiwan is a junior partner in this "China" family in which foreign affairs naturally should be the duty of the senior member of the family.
This is the only perspective from which a right-minded person can comprehend why the serious business of making state visits to official diplomatic allies has been denigrated to an elementary school spring break activity -- nothing more than just a bit of fun.
The president of the country acted like a chief executive of a special administration region of China during his Africa visit. A chief executive certainly cannot and need not take responsibility for a country's foreign relations. (Editorial abstract -- April 18, 2012)
(By S.C. Chang)