Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Modus Vivendi Does Not Equal A Diplomatic Truce

A Modus Vivendi Does Not Equal A Diplomatic Truce
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 29, 2008

President Ma Ying-jeou has made a number of low-key visits and given a number of talks, including one on Kinmen. These talks have revealed the new tone of Ma's diplomacy. They have also conveyed his hopes for "Cross-Strait Peace, Diplomatic Truce" to Beijing. But Beijing blocked Taipei's attempt to become a WHA observer in May and recent attempts by Taipei's allies to help us join United Nations agencies. This tells us that if Taipei is the only party serious about a Modus Vivendi and a Diplomatic Truce, then its efforts are in vain.

President Ma took advantage of his visit to elaborate on his Modus Vivendi. Reconciliation and cooperation would replace scorched-earth confrontation. It would establish a new diplomatic strategy, even as it attempted to expand Taipei's breathing space. But President Ma's remark that Taipei probably wouldn't be able to increase the number of its allies was inappropriate and incomprehensible.

Taipei has long been mired in a diplomatic dilemma. Its sovereignty, dignity, and international breathing space have long been suppressed. The public on Taiwan yearns for international recognition. It hopes the nation's sovereignty will be respected and recognized. Is that wrong? We want to fly our own flag. We want to call our nation by her official name. Is that wrong? If a foreign country truly identifies with the Republic of China, and hopes to establish diplomatic relations with us, should we refuse? Do we still want the international community to recognize us as a nation?

Ma's Modus Vivendi will avoid wasting resources in a diplomatic tug of war. The public on Taiwan detests checkbook diplomacy. The international community views it with a jaundiced eye as well. Obsolete practices should be discarded. The current cross-Strait atmosphere is one of reconciliation. Beijing has temporarily stopped crowding Taipei's international space. Taipei has gotten a temporary respite from nations attempting to play Taipei against Beijing.

But this is a fragile state of affairs. It could change at any time. If we cease defending our sovereignty, if we cease fighting for our survival, we will have bound our own hands and feet in advance, without receiving anything concrete in return. For a vulnerable nation faced with a powerful enemy, fighting for its survival, this is too naive and too risky.

Take for example participation in this year's United Nations activities. We have made a strategic adjustment. No more high-profile attempts to join the UN under the name Taiwan, as either a member or an observer. Instead, we seek merely to join peripheral organizations. Compared to the past, this is a comparatively pragmatic approach. Taipei must first interact with the international community. Only then will it receive international support. But such interaction is bound to test Beijing's bottom line. After all, if international organizations open their doors to Taipei, that will directly impact Beijing's One China Policy. The One China Policy is flexible when applied to cross-Strait interaction, but not when applied to the international community. This is no surprise. Noisy attempts to "Join the UN" met with failure. Current low-key, pragmatic attempts to join peripheral organizations have met with the same results. This shows that for the moment at least, Beijing has no intention of yielding ground.

It has no intention of responding to the Ma administration's pragmatic approach to United Nations membership. This means that even if Taipei adopts a lower profile, in the short term at least, it will receive little in return. Joining the United Nations is difficult. We don't need to be in a hurry to fight the toughest battles.

That does not mean however that we can relax our defense of the Republic of China's sovereignty. Sovereignty is not a bargaining chip. Sovereignty is non-negotiable. The legitimate defense of sovereignty must not be confused with reckless provocations on behalf of Taiwan independence. If any high-ranking government officials are entertaining thoughts of bargaining away our sovereignty, then they are neglecting their duties, betraying the nation's interests, and betraying the public trust. If the Republic of China's survival is undermined, the results may be irremediable. Those in power must be judicious.

The new administration has been in office for three months. The larger environment has undergone a downturn. Only the lifting of controls on cross-Strait exchanges has yielded immediate and tangible results. As a result, the public may be too eager to accommodate Beijing. If the Ma administration is overly dependent upon Beijing's goodwill, it may become confused about what is in the national interest. At the very least, it may confuse the public and the international community.

No high-ranking government official is willing to sacrifice the Republic of China's sovereignty. But when it comes to the details, it is better to be safe than sorry. We must hold on to our chips. Our backs are to the wall. We cannot blindly trust the other side's goodwill. Since Ma Ying-jeou became president, he has actively promoted cross-Strait reconciliation. But we must be prepared. No matter how good cross-Strait relations may be, irreconcilable conflicts remain. There will inevitably be confrontation and even conflict. President Ma Ying-jeou must show the public on Taiwan his determination. The public must believe he knows how to deal with Beijing, and is able to defend the Republic of China's sovereignty and national interests.

中國時報  2008.08.29
爭取外交空間 非休兵才有活路

馬 英九總統先後藉著低調出訪,金門談話等作為,不僅展現了新的外交基調,也一定程度向大陸傳達了企望「兩岸和平、外交休兵」的理念,然而從今年五月提案成為 WHA觀察員,到最近友邦提案讓台灣參與聯合國機構,中國都一概封殺。這意味不論是「活路外交」還是「外交休兵」,如果只有台灣這一邊表達善意,恐怕依舊 是徒勞無功。


台 灣一直處於外交困境,主權尊嚴及國際生存空間受到嚴重封殺打壓,民眾長期以來始終渴望國際社會承認我們的國家地位。一個國家希望主權地位受到尊重與認可, 有什麼不對?我們希望自己國家的國旗能飄揚、國名能被正式使用,難道錯了嗎?萬一有某個國家真的認同台灣,有意和我國建交,而且沒有獅子大開口,難道我們 要拒絕嗎?到底在國際社會中,還要不要人家承認我們是個國家?

「活路外交」主張不要虛耗資源進行外交角力,那是沒 錯,台灣民眾厭惡銀彈外交,國際社會的觀感也不佳,舊有的作法確實應該改弦易轍。在目前兩岸和解的大氣氛下,中共暫時放緩壓縮台灣國際空間的動作,對企圖 兩頭喊價的國家冷淡以對,台灣得以稍有喘息,的確也是事實,但這個事實存在得非常脆弱,隨時可以消失。我們如果就此停下在國際間捍衛主權、爭取生存的動 作,還沒得到具體獲利就先自縛手腳,對於一個面對強敵陷於生存危機中的弱勢國家,這恐怕太天真也太冒險了一點。

以今 年參與聯合國的活動為例,策略上已經都做了調整,不再高調地要求以台灣名義加入成為會員或觀察員,而是尋求參與外圍周邊組織的機會。相較於過往,這已經是 比較務實的作法,因為台灣必須先建立與國際社會的綿密互動,才能爭取更多國際支持。只不過這勢必將對中共的底線形成嚴酷考驗,畢竟在國際組織中替台灣開一 扇門,就會直接衝擊到中共的一中政策,而一中政策的彈性現在還只存在於兩岸互動間,並沒有應用在國際社會上。而情勢發展也確實沒有令人意外,昔日敲鑼打鼓 要「入聯」不成,如今低調務實的尋求參與專門機構照樣不成,充分顯示北京現階段似乎無意以任何善意,來回應馬政府在參與聯合國上的務實調整。這也意味,就 算台灣在參與聯合國上放低姿態,恐怕短期內換不到什麼,只是聯合國本來就是高難度挑戰,我們也不必先忙著撿硬仗來打。

不 過,這絕不意味著我們在捍衛台灣主權上有絲毫的放鬆,主權是不能拿來當籌碼的,維護主權的動作亦然。對於主權的正當防衛,不能與昔日冒進的台獨挑釁混為一 談。如任何政府高層存有這樣想法,不但是對自己職責的輕忽怠惰,更將是對國家利益及人民付託的嚴重背叛。而且,台灣的國際生存如果因此而受到傷害,其結果 可能無法彌補,當政者不可不慎。


我 們相信政府高層沒有人願意犧牲台灣主權,但在許多細節的處理上,必須步步為營慎重以對,不能在手上不留籌碼、背後毫無退路的狀況下,一股腦地信賴對方的善 意。馬英九就任總統以來,積極推動兩岸和解,但大家必須有心理準備,兩岸目前再怎麼交好,有些基本矛盾終究存在,還是會有出現對立甚至直接衝突的時候。馬 英九總統必須向台灣民眾展示決心,讓大家相信,他能夠和中共打交道,更能夠捍衛台灣的主權利益。

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