On Friday May 20, 2016 morning Ms Tsai Ing-wen, 59, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was sworn-in President after winning the elections in January this year. India backtracked on sending any official government representative days after naming two parliamentarians to attend the events. It would mean that there would be no official representation at the swearing-in of the President or at the dinner banquet later in the evening. This is in deference to Beijing’s ‘coercive’ dictate of demanding all countries to endorse its ‘One China’ Policy and have no tuck with Taiwan. However, an Academic, who is also an Editor and a Delhi, based BJP leader are expected to be attending in their private capacities.
In her inaugural address, Ms Tsai said that the Taiwanese people were “committed to the defence of our freedom and democracy as a way of life…….Stable and peaceful cross-strait relationship must be continuously promoted,” she called upon both sides to “set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people of both sides.” What Ms Tsai said in inaugural speech is likely to irk Beijing, particularly her focus on Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, saying – “it’s every Taiwanese persons responsibility to safe guard this.”
The DPP has won elections only once before while the KMT (Koumintang) had been in power for most of the past 70 years. The outgoing President Ma Ying-jeon lost public support because of his overly friendly approach to Beijing besides his poor handling of the economy and widening the wealth gap.
Ms Tsai belongs to the DPP, a Party that has traditionally leaned towards independence which is not seen kindly by China who sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and with the Chinese Communist Party leadership vowing reunification in future. Beijing has been demanding that Ms Tsai acknowledge ‘One China’ Policy under a framework known as the “1992 Consensus” – a tacit understanding that the geographical territory of Taiwan belongs to mainland China, while leaving room for both countries to pursue their own interpretation of what “One China” means. DPP has always rejected the ‘Consensus’. Interestingly, Ms Tsai mentioned about the maintenance of status-quo of the Taiwan’s amorphous relationship with China, alluding to ‘One China’ but not accepting it explicitly. She also repatriated that cross-strait relations have become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security.
In 1949 the Communists defeated the Nationalists who then fled to Taiwan under Chaing Kai-shek. China has pressurised the new Taiwan government to stick to the “one-China” principle agreed with the Nationalists. China has, in the past too, threatened to take the Island by force if necessary. Even today hundreds of conventional missiles are in a deployment state of semi-readiness with their compasses pointing to numerous targets on the Island and around it.
While India endorses ‘One China’ Policy and does not recognise Taiwan as a country, the reason for accepting the invitation to send government representatives and then cancelling it needs to be explained. One possibility is that the government realised that China could do something to snub and create a diplomatic embarrassment for the Indian President who is to visit Guangzhou and Beijing between 24th-27th May 2016. So it was an imminent call for diplomatic prudence. India could also borrow from Deng Xiaoping – ‘build your abilities and bide you time’!!!!
It is unprecedented in world political history where a nation (China) has managed to coerce every nation it deals with to isolate another nation (Taiwan) because it considers it to be its integral part. China’s place in the UN Security Council and its huge economic power and market clout forced these nations to subscribe to Beijing’s agenda. It’s a tragic travesty of collective justice of the Human Rights a people. Democratic nations pretending to uphold Human Rights values cannot explain why for some economic gains they succumbed and allowed a nation to be treated as a pariah at the behest of one another larger one? Would it have been the case if China’s economic rise was not of the magnitude as it has been? It may be conjectural to say so but if there is a down slide in its economy and there is crippling internal unrest in China will the fortunes of Taiwan change? This may, in some future time frame, not be merely a hypothetical scenario!!
Democracy has given Taiwanese people a voice. Its leaders are their representatives and expect them to govern by the wish of the majority. When the people ousted Ma Ying-jeon they felt he had deviated from their collective wish. They ushered in a Party which understands their concerns. This concept is alien to the Chinese ruling elite. Since the Chinese leaders are only the representatives of the Chinese Communist Party and its few thousands or may even be a few million members who themselves are a ‘chosen’ lot. Chinese public opinion is a suspect commodity. It’s the Party line in a disguised format because there is no ‘public opinion’ in China. If it is not the Party line then it is categorised as ‘splittist’ dissent and such like terms which only the CCP can invent!!
The scholars from Taiwan opine that the Chinese leadership is only understands in dealing with the leadership. So they do not look at Taiwanese leaders in a different spectrum then theirs. As a result the Chinese leadership does not factor in the opinion of the people since they are not accustomed to accepting versions from outside the CCP. On these scholars being asked as to how long will this situation and state of affairs continue? No opinion was expressed as obviously there seemed to be no light on horizon in sight. It all apparently depended on China’s clout. A waning China, as in old times, will withdraw and retract that’s when, possibly, the fortunes of Taiwan will change. As of now, shamefully, Taiwan will continue to be isolated and should be prepared to fend for itself in every sphere for its survival.