Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Between Sozzled and Sober

Sovereignty - n. the notion that the role of government may be properly compared to that of an authoritarian father, coupled integrally with the faith of a three-year-old that "my dad can beat up your dad."

Reading the news that Taiwan may become a "meaningful" participant in UN agencies and organizations UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Michael Danielson over at the Taiwan Corner remarked:
Taiwan wants meaningful participation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) using the WHA model. Great idea but the important question that has to be answered is how it is possible to trust Taiwanese KMT negotiators handling the meaningful participation now that Taiwan is registered as a province of China in WHO using the WHA-model.
Sadder still, as I pointed out when this broke, the WHO isn't setting a precedent but following higher policy. The long-term implications of this endless series of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't choices aren't very pretty.

Still, moments of low humor abounded. The Taipei Times quoted.
“Chinese Taipei” stands for “Republic of China [ROC], Taipei,” Shen said, adding that the use of Taipei rather than “Taibei,” as it is written by Beijing, clearly showed it stood for the ROC and not the People’s Republic of China.
B vs P: now that's hairsplitting! As I recall, the Chinese Taipei formula was first proposed by the KMT for use in the Olympics (see this post on Beijing's foreign policy in sports for how that works in China in practice).

Front page news today in the Taipei Times: Taiwanese woman's marriage certificate in Japan says she is from China.

The documents I presented for marriage registration in Japan were my household registration transcript and affidavit to single status. Both were authenticated by Taiwanese authorities,” Lee said. “However, the marriage certificate that I got in return states China as my nationality.”

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang--liang (蔡煌瑯) said the government should be held responsible for such cases, adding that the so-called “diplomatic truce” with Beijing that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had initiated after he took office in May 2008 had “failed to defend the nation’s sovereignty” and led to an international misconception that Taiwan belongs to China.

“When the DPP was in power, Taiwan was not denigrated by Japan; its household authority clearly distinguished Taiwan from China,” Tsai said. “Under Ma’s ‘diplomatic truce’ policy, even Japan, which has been friendly to Taiwan, now lists Taiwan as a province of China.”

An anonymous official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Association of East Asian Relations said that Japan would introduce a new foreign residency permit scheme in July next year in which it would list “Taiwanese” as the nationality of Taiwanese living in Japan.

The new scheme was based on Japan’s immigration law, which was amended by the House of Representatives in June 2009. Under the existing visa system, Taiwanese are classified under “China” for their nationality, the official said.
Blaming the Ma gov't for decisions taken decades ago is kind of silly. This looks more like Japanese official laziness than official maliciousness. The China Post report contains more information:
In response to the accusations, Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), who was fielding questions during the hearing, said he will look into the matter and would not tolerate such a deliberate denial of Taiwan's sovereignty.

A MOFA official later informed reporters that the alien registration card that the Japanese government grants to Taiwanese citizens still lists their nationality as “China” or “China (Taiwan).”

Any foreigners staying in Japan for more than 90 days are required to register for the card.

He believed that the Japanese household registration affairs officials simply registered the woman as a Chinese national based on the information listed on the registration card.
The gods love irony and offered us a couple of painful examples this week with Croatia and Slovenia -- breakaway regions of the former Yugoslavia --  both following the policy of labeling Taiwan a province of China. This sort of policy is perfectly normal and will become increasingly normal as China's power and influence continue to wax.

The fascinating thing is the universal condemnation it evokes in Taiwan from the locals -- you know, those people who pay their taxes at the Tax Office labeled "Taiwan Province", drive on Provincial Route 3 to and from Taichung, nonchalantly refer to the island nation as a "province" in conversation, and so on. People rarely become publicly indignant over these labels though there is much private resentment. Perhaps it shows how much these pro-China local labels have become part of the  slurry of identities that Taiwanese carry around, but it may also show how other nations that use the "Taiwan, Province of China" formula become convenient scapegoats for issues Taiwanese would rather not face at home....

Not to mention, it surely must be confusing to the representatives of the sovereign nations of Croatia and Slovenia as they perform their daily tasks in Taipei.....after all, isn't it the official policy of the current government that Taiwan is part of China?
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9 comments:

Dixteel said...

Yea, this type of things are KMT and CCP tactics of creating confusion by covering fact under layers and layers of words and lies. It's like making a huge stinky fart at the dinner table. The chicken might smell nice, but now all you can smell is the fart, not the chicken. Their playing with words that insult my intelligence make me hate them a lot more.

Anonymous said...

Great idea but the important question that has to be answered is how it is possible to trust Taiwanese KMT negotiators handling the meaningful participation now that Taiwan is registered as a province of China in WHO using the WHA-model.

It's not a matter of trust, and in fact, it's a largely irrelevant question. If the WHO/WHA or any other international body classifies Taiwan as a province of China, there's not a whole lot the KMT (or DPP should they win in 2012) can do about it. They can make a protest, as the KMT already have, but what other options are there really? Decide not to enter negotiations or not to participate? Sure, that could be done but that's not going to stop the international body referring to Taiwan as a province of China. It's just going to mean Taiwan misses out doubly.

The downside is the DPP and their supporters wouldn't be able to score cheap political points as they seem to be doing lately, and to some in the opposition, as long as the KMT looks bad it doesn't matter what happens to Taiwan.

Blaming the Ma gov't for decisions taken decades ago is kind of silly

Exactly the same could be said for any international decision that is out of the hands of the Ma govt, the WHA fiasco as a key example.

Jan said...

Maybe that lady should open her passport, it states "Republic of China" under nationality.

The short name for the French Republic is France, for the Federal Republic of Germany it is Germany and for the Republic of Slovakia it is Slovakia.

Besides, as R.O.C. authorities rarely ever use Taiwan in a legal context anyways and "Taiwanese" marriage certificates have "Republic of China" written as the nationality, there will not be a problem.

It's not like the Japanese authorities wrote PRC, so everybody calm down. If you want a Taiwanese citizenship, establish a Taiwanese state that issues Taiwanese passports.

MKL said...

Hey, I am Slovenian and I wonder where did you get that info, that our government labeled Taiwan as province of China? I didn't see anything like this in our media. I would like to write about it on my Slovenian blog about Taiwan, I can definitely make noise about it and some media at home might pick it up. But people don't know and don't care about Taiwan in Slovenia, it doesn't matter what we say, really. Same goes for Croatia. And I know that for many years Taiwan is listed under China in all official government websites.

However, this February our ex PM Janez Janša visited president Ma and I read some commentators on Forumosa (here) making fun f that in the sense that "such small irrelevant politicians visits" Ma. But Janša will most likely be again the next PM in 2012. His party has close ties with Taiwan, a Club of friendship between Taiwan and Slovenia was established in 1997. He definitely knows Taiwan and the political situation well, but that doesn't mean he will want to anger Beijing, so "officially" Taiwan won't be treated as an independent country that it is, but behind the curtain there will be good cooperation and economic exchange. In this sense I don't see Slovenia any different than other countries. It's a circus show for Beijing, nothing else. Reality is different. Most worrying is what KMT is doing, not other countries, IMHO.

Marc said...

Apparently Japan has responded to this and has made this amendment:

http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aIPL&ID=201105240009

D said...

@Jan
Doesn't the front of the passport say "Republic of China" and then "Taiwan"? And everyone knows "China" is short for "[People's Republic of] China".

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows? nice argument.

Jan said...

@D:

The passport of Greece says "Hellenic Republic" on the cover and the nationality states "Hellenic". Why? Because there is no "Greek" nationality, what we call the Greek state is the Hellenic Republic.

Similarly, Chinese residents of Hong Kong have a passport that has "HONG KONG" printed on the cover. Yet in their nationality field it says "Chinese" .

Taiwanese people are Republic of China nationals, there is no such thing as a Taiwanese state that one can be a member of and henceforth a Taiwanese citizen / national.

What matters is not the cover of a passport, but the nationality stated inside.

D said...

@Jan

You're basically saying what MT says in the last paragraph of his post. Fine. But it's not unreasonable to think that the diplomatic agencies of the world should be able to see that there is a difference between the governments on the mainland and on Taiwan and that calling them the same name is stupid. Pace anon 3:44, it sure seems to me that most people in Taiwan don't like being lumped together with the mainland under the "China" designation. Now, this doesn't necessarily imply advocacy of "Taiwan independence". It just reflects the situation right now, that mainland and Taiwan are not the same and language that confuses them should be avoided.