Apparently mindful of its previous experience with the 11th Panchen Lama, Beijing late in 2007 took steps designed to solidify its future control over the selection process of Tibetan lamas. On August 3, 2007, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) issued a set of regulations, effective September 1, 2007, that require all Tibetan lamas wishing to reincarnate to obtain prior government approval through the submission of a “reincarnation application.” In a statement accompanying the regulations, SARA called the step “an important move to institutionalize management on reincarnation of living Buddhas.”No reincarnation without a license. Can messiahs resurrect without a permit?
Speaking of Tibet and broken treaties, the headline dominator this week was President Ma's proposal for a "peace" agreement between Taiwan and China. The DPP responded (Taipei Times):
Speaking as the head of her party, Tsai, the DPP’s presidential candidate in January’s election, told a press conference that Ma’s proposal was “irresponsible and impetuous” and that it amounted to the manipulation of a highly sensitive political issue to cover up his administration’s failures, as well as a bargaining chip that benefits his presidential campaign.Ma's move appeared to be a misstep, since it attracted criticism from all sides and this week he's been forced to defend it in public. Ma placed the "peace" proposal in his usual context of "national dignity" by which he means the ROC virtual state, not Taiwan. Hence, a peace agreement negotiated by the KMT would most likely include Taiwan in China, which has always been the goal of the KMT. Once again Ma raises doubts among independent voters and Light Blues by unnecessarily calling for another lurch toward China.
“It’s a pity that President Ma, as a national leader, has put the nation’s future at risk with this reckless initiative and pushed the future of Taiwanese into a political danger zone,” Tsai said.
A DPP Central Standing Committee resolution yesterday said the proposal exposed Taiwanese to four serious risks — the sacrifice of Taiwan’s sovereignty, a change in the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, the jeopardizing of Taiwan’s democratic values and damage to the nation’s strategic depth in bilateral negotiations — Tsai said.
The initiative could make the cross-strait situation a “domestic” issue by agreeing to the “one China” principle, she said, as well as going to the negotiating table without a public mandate and a national consensus.
Tsai cited the 1951 peace deal between Tibet and China as an example of Beijing’s lack of credibility as a signatory.
AP had some good coverage of the domestic tumult:
Ma’s declaration was lambasted by the opposition, which saw it as a boon to its chances in January’s presidential elections because it appeared to make Ma vulnerable to charges that he might be willing to compromise Taiwan’s sovereignty. It was also criticized by normally supportive media outlets as an unnecessary embrace of an issue that lacks popularity among Taiwan’s mostly China-wary population.The China Times prides itself on being stuffily pro-KMT, but UDN is basic frothing at the mouth for the KMT. For Ma to lose both with this proposal may show a decidedly out-of-touch campaign team. Ma backed away by saying that his government would "consider a referendum" (they mean "think about it for a second before rejecting it forever"), a significant backpedal since the KMT hates the idea of national level referendums, since they tend to reify Taiwan as an independent polity in its own right.
“Swing voters have doubts about the treaty,” wrote the pro-Ma United Daily News on Thursday, adding that recent government polls showed a firm bias in favor of Taiwan’s political status quo.
The China Times, another pro-Ma paper, likened opening peace treaty negotiations with the mainland to “plunging into a trap set up by Beijing.”
Ma has to please his allies in Beijing, so this may be a sop tossed in the direction of the CCP. He may well be setting the stage for political talks in his second term, but in the short term the proposal appears to have helped the DPP. Though without reliable political polls, it is difficult to say for certain.
Peace proposals are old hat in elections, dating back to James Soong's 50 year peace proposal and before. Soong's proposal included a kind of EU-framework under which Taiwan would recognize itself as part of China. Like Ma today, Soong defended his proposal as aligned with the mainstream opinion in Taiwan. His proposal included an escape clause -- President Ma's does not appear to.
- Speaking of China keeping agreements, it still blocks the websites of many US businesses despite its commitments under the WTO. It's time to rethink our trade with China.
- US National Security advisor Thomas Donilon off to China this week "amid rising tensions." Wait... if the arms sale was such a great idea, how come tensions are rising? Donilon is identified by some as the source of the disreputable Financial Times hack on Tsai Ing-wen. If so, I hope Beijing shits all over him, so he can understand how the Dragon Throne rewards those who serve it.
- Taiwan's E Sun bank expands across Asia.
- Taiwan rues west's fixation on PLA power.
- March 1946: how Japanese residents of Danshui were repatriated.
- Trade numbers worse than expected: implications.
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