Rigid Opposition to the Mainland Will Lead Only to Self-Destruction
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 10, 2016
Executive Summary: Five suspects from Taiwan have been acquitted in the Kenyan telecommunications fraud case. Officials abroad labored three days and three nights. They were unable to overcome Beijing's great power diplomacy. They could only watch as the Mainland plane wafted them away. Beijing ignored the court ruling and hustled the suspects away. Its action, though high-handed, revealed one thing. The DPP government's rigid and arrogant cross-Strait posture is out of touch with reality, and will inevitably lead to shattering humiliation.
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Five suspects from Taiwan have been acquitted in the Kenyan telecommunications fraud case. Officials abroad labored three days and three nights. They were unable to overcome Beijing's great power diplomacy. They could only watch as the Mainland plane wafted them away. Beijing ignored the court ruling and hustled the suspects away. Its action, though high-handed, revealed one thing. The DPP government's rigid and arrogant cross-Strait posture is out of touch with reality, and will inevitably lead to shattering humiliation.
Imagine the DPP's reaction had the Ma administration failed to return the suspects to Taiwan. What would the DPP be saying? Would it be accusing the Ma administration of "diplomatic incompetence", "ignoring human rights," and "forfeiting sovereignty and humiliating the nation"? Would these and other charges be filling the air? In April Kenya extradited several suspects to the Mainland. The Democratic Progressive Party blasted the Ma government just this way. By contrast, when the DPP government is forced to confront its own failures, it utters pro forma expressions such as "deep regret" and "solemn protest". The president calls on government agencies to negotiate in accordance with the "Cross-Strait Crime Fighting and Mutual Assistance Agreement". When President Tsai asks Beijing to repatriate suspects to Taiwan, is she really unaware that the solution to the problem is in her hands?
The "Cross-Strait Crime Fighting and Mutual Assistance Agreement" still exists. But it is no longer honored or enforced. One reason of course, as Tsai Ing-wen knows perfectly well, is that the agreement is predicated upon mutual recognition of the 1992 Consensus. President Tsai refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus. Therefore any agreements or understandings based on the 1992 Consensus have been shelved. Beijing seized the suspects in Kenya. This shows that it no longer adheres to the crime-fighting agreement. For Taiwan however, it has more dire implications. It shows that we are powerless to confront the Mainland on the diplomatic front. Kenya ignored the court decision and extradited the suspects to the Mainland. They forced them to board the chartered airliner destined for the Mainland. The situation is clear for all to see.
Ma Ying-jeou was ridiculed by the DPP as "weak". But his strategy of "diplomatic truce" reflected the pragmatism and flexibility required of weaker powers. Suppose the KMT were still in power. Five suspects in the Kenyan case might have been repatriated to Taiwan according to the "Cross-Strait Crime Fighting and Mutual Assistance Agreement". With goodwill across the Strait, repatriation might not have been a problem. But the DPP is now the ruling party. Now all it can do is express moral indignation amd denounce the other side. Such political theater may have value. But for a nation's ruling party, it merely reveals its impotence. At times like this, sanctimonious proclamations about human rights count for nothing.
Besides, scam artists from Taiwan are notorious the world over. They are a disgrace to everyone on Taiwan. The government refuses to crack down on them, and eliminate them in one fell swoop. It acts only when other governments break up these rings and begin extraditing suspects. Then it springs into action and demands repatriation to Taiwan. This does not help. It merely lets people see what we really care about. People have been victimized by these scam artists for years. They detest them. The government invokes "justice and human rights" to persuade others to repatriate them, only to give them a slap on the wrist. Such practices show that our alleged concern for justice and human rights is merely another scam from Taiwan.
This year several overseas scam cases have been prosecuted. Malaysia repatriated several suspects to Taiwan. Other suspects in Kenya, Cambodia, and Malaysia victimized Mainlanders. They were extradited to the Mainland for trial. Many on Taiwan cheered. If having the other side punish the scam artists was what it took to wipe the smirks off their faces, then so be it. In July, Greek police uncovered a 20 man syndicate from Taiwan. Three weeks later, nothing more has been heard. The government sees only what it wants to see. What it does not want to see, remains invisible. But the moment the Mainland seeks extradition, our diplomatic personnel will spring into action and fight tooth and nail over jurisdiction.
The government's attempt to grab suspects in the Kenyan case failed. The two sides are once again at diplomatic loggerheads. The situation calls for pragmatic reflection. President Tsai cannot bring herself to utter the words "1992 Consensus". Perhaps she considers her motives noble. But political, economic, and diplomatic problems continue to bedevil her administration, at the cost of peoples' dignity and trust. Not all of the blame belongs to President Tsai. But Tsai Ing-wen's quest for “national dignity" must include wisdom and the acknowledgement of reality. Otherwise, her administration will continue to butt its head against the wall.
In cross-Strait coopetition, the key to success is a “small and flexible" posture. Arrogance and rigidity are deadly. During her inaugural address, President Tsai told the DPP that the people expect us to "solve problems". But the government's current attitude reveals just the opposite attitude.