Is Ma Ying-jeou Becoming a Parrot of the PRC?

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Wednesday September 10, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Recently, the People's Republic of China (PRC) rejected Taiwan's bid for simple participation in other international agencies as an observer. This was allegedly Ma's new flexible and placating approach to China. Though it was quickly shot down by the PRC, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) tried to downplay the rejection and say that the PRC did not understand Taiwan's effort. The PRC understood only too well, but it is what followed that indicates how things are getting worse and how China seeks to define the terms of engagement.

A week or so later after the rejection, Ma was interviewed by a Mexican paper and he brought up the surprise wording that his approach to China would be treated as "region to region" and not "state to state." This choice of words surprised many because of the danger to Taiwan's sovereignty.

Go back then to China's rejection of Taiwan's bid, and look more closely at the wording of the PRC letter. This letter was more than a simple rejection; it expressed clearly China's view and plan. What is then alarming is Ma Ying-jeou's acceptance of the PRC wording and almost cueing off of it.

While the original UN letter would have been in Chinese and therefore have some leeway in translation, what is below is the letter translated in English, the most common language in the UN, and the English record. Further Ma's interview for the Mexican paper would have been in English. What stands out in both is the PRC speaking of Taiwan as a region and Ma following up on that as well as Ma's accepting and following China's reunification plan.

Sixty-third session

Item 112 of the provisional agenda*

Implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations

Letter dated 18 August 2008 from the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

With reference to the letter submitted by Nauru, the Gambia and a very few other countries on 14 August 2008 on the so-called "Taiwan's participation in the activities of United Nations specialized agencies", I have been instructed to solemnly state China's position as follows:

  1. By raising the so-called proposal on "Taiwan's participation in the activities of United Nations specialized agencies", Nauru, the Gambia and a very few other countries intend to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan". This is a violation of China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and interference in China's internal affairs, and is thus firmly opposed by the Chinese Government and people. Such practice runs counter to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations as well as the constitutions and statutes of specialized agencies of the United Nations system. It is also detrimental to the prevailing good momentum in the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.
  2. There is only one China in the world. No matter what changes occur in cross-Strait relations, China's adherence to the one China principle will never change. For historical and other reasons, the mainland and the Taiwan region are not yet reunited, but the fact that the two sides belong to one and the same China has never changed. As China is the shared homeland of the Chinese people across the Taiwan Strait, the 23 million Taiwan compatriots are important components of the Chinese nation, and people on the two sides of the Strait share the same blood and destiny.
  3. The United Nations and its specialized agencies are intergovernmental organizations composed only of sovereign States. This is clearly stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations and the constitutions and statutes of the specialized agencies. The so-called "principle of universality" is also based on sovereign States. As a part of China, Taiwan is not a sovereign State. The claim by a very few

    countries that specialized agencies should allow the Taiwan region to "participate" in their activities under the "principle of universality" is unfounded. Since 1993, the General Committee and successive sessions of the General Assembly have rejected the motion on the so-called "Taiwan's participation" or "membership" in the United Nations tabled by a very few countries each year. Since 1997, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) and successive sessions of the World Health Assembly have also rejected the motion tabled each year by a very few countries on Taiwan's "membership" or "participation" in the World Health

    Assembly as an observer. Facts have amply proved that the Taiwan region is not eligible to "participate" in the activities of specialized agencies.
  4. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the well-being of the 23 million Taiwan compatriots and understands their aspiration for and feeling about participating in international activities. The Chinese Government is never opposed to commercial and cultural exchanges and cooperation between the Taiwan region and other parts of the world. In 2005, on the basis of the one China principle, the Chinese Government reached with the Secretariat of the World Health Organization a memorandum of understanding, which provides facilitation to medical experts of the Taiwan region in their participation in WHO technical conferences and activities. The Taiwan region has unfettered access to health and medical information of the World Health Organization. The Chinese Government has also adopted a fully flexible and constructive attitude towards Taiwan's participation in multilateral activities in organizations such as the World Trade Organization and APEC.
  5. Since March this year, thanks to the concerted efforts of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, cross-Strait relations have shown a good momentum of improvement and development. Under the new circumstances, we will firmly adhere to the theme of peaceful development in cross-Strait relations, and continue to enhance our exchanges and cooperation in all areas. It is true that there are still some outstanding questions left over from history and some of them are hard nuts to crack for the time being. But we anticipate that the two sides will make joint efforts, under the one China principle, towards the establishment of a framework for peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and strive for a new prospect in the relationship. As an internal affair of the Chinese people, the participation of Taiwan compatriots in international activities should be resolved through consultation by the Chinese people across the Taiwan Strait. We are fully confident that, so long as the two sides work together in a spirit of "building mutual trust, putting aside differences, seeking common ground and striving for a win-win result", we will surely be able to create conditions and find an appropriate solution through consultation.
  6. The Chinese Government urges Nauru, the Gambia and a very few other countries to observe the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, especially the principles of respecting State sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and comply with the constitutions and statutes of specialized agencies. We urge them to stop doing things that undermine China's interests and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and refrain from creating obstacles to the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. We hope Member States will continue to adhere to the one China principle, appreciate and support the efforts made by the Chinese Government to maintain peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and work concertedly to safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole. I have the honour to request that the present letter be circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under item 112 of the provisional agenda.

(Signed) Wang Guangya

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

and Permanent Representative of the

People's Republic of China to the United Nations