A question of ‘dwarfing’

By Dr. William Fang, Special to The China Post

Receiving Brian Mishara, president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, on Sept. 8, President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to reduce the suicide rate in the Taiwan area of the Republic of China (ROC). Such a way of talking immediately prompted sharp criticism from members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who accused Ma of “dwarfing” the ROC from a sovereign state to a district. In an article to the Forum page of a major local newspaper, Li Wen-chung, a former legislator of the DPP, questioned Ma’s loyalty to the ROC as its president. However, legislators from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) defended the president, asserting that Ma’s definition was based on the ROC Constitution which says there is only one China represented by the ROC with both Taiwan and the mainland as its territories. The sovereignty question has long been used by the DPP, which basically supports an independent Taiwan, as a favorite issue to incite emotions among native Taiwanese to derive political advantage. The most incomprehensible thing with the DPP is that while it cannot and dare not abolish the current Constitution, it has kept finding fault with the content of the document, particularly with regard to the official name and boundary of the ROC.

In constantly attempting to replace the ROC with Taiwan in international activities, the DPP and its followers have long “dwarfed” their country by downgrading it to a non-state because so far the “Republic of Taiwan” does not exist. On the other hand, the ROC has been recognized by more than 20 nations as a sovereign state. Even for Beijing, Taiwan’s arch foe, it is more tolerant about the ROC than an independent Taiwan.

Under the so-called “1992 consensus,” both Taipei and Beijing agreed to put aside the sovereignty issue for the time being while moving ahead with other cross-strait exchanges. The result is that both deny the claim of the other side as the legitimate representative of China. In more concrete terms, officials from Taipei and Beijing use Taiwan and the mainland to refer to each other’s national identity and address each other by Mr. instead of official titles. Such expediency has the effect of achieving parity in conducting cross-strait exchanges. DPP people are often heard complaining about Taiwan being “dwarfed” since its official national name cannot be used in cross-strait activities. But, if that is the case with Taiwan, so it is with Beijing because the name of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) cannot be used either. Thus, Taipei and Beijing are treated on an equal footing. So what’s the fuss? (Indeed, for some politicians, their psychology can be described as a kind of morbid inferiority complex). When advocates of Taiwan independence cannot use the idea of “state-to-state” relations to promote cross-strait dialogue, it is time to try a new approach without sacrificing the de facto sovereignty of Taiwan. And this is exactly what Taipei and Beijing are doing: Putting aside their political differences for the present so as to be able to cooperate to achieve common prosperity.