Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ma's Australian Odyssey

Mayor Ma of Taipei was in Australia this week sucking up to local politicians. Conservative Greg Sheridan at the Australian has the story...

Ma has had a fascinating visit to Australia this week. In Sydney he addressed a big luncheon hosted by the Lowy Institute and open to the media. In Canberra he had an unofficial meeting with Gary Hardgrave, the Minister for Vocational and Technical Education. He also met senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.

This is all highly notable because Canberra doesn't usually allow that kind of access for Taiwanese government figures. And Ma is in the Opposition. Interpreting the Ma visit gives us a clue to the unfolding geo-strategic calculations of Canberra, Beijing, Washington and Taipei.

Sheridan concluded that Ma and Beijing may not be a match made in heaven:

But Ma holds many positions that will annoy Beijing as much as anything Chen has done. Ma supports, for example, the passage of the special military budget that the KMT has held up in parliament just to frustrate Chen. This would mean $US10 billion ($12.9billion) worth of new military purchases for Taiwan of submarines, anti-submarine warfare capacity and so on. You think Beijing's gunna like that?

Ma says "their [Beijing's] one China is different from our one China". He does not believe unification can come about while the Chinese constitution is undemocratic. He does not believe "one country two systems", the formula under which China rules Hong Kong, can apply to Taiwan.

He believes China's anti-secession law, in which it outlines the basis on which it will take military action against Taiwan, was unnecessary and provocative. He backs a strong military for Taiwan and the resolve to defend itself. He is four square behind the US alliance.

While very appreciative of Australia's role in the region and complimentary of Australia in many ways, he also says Canberra has the reputation of being too cautious in its dealings with China and pays too much attention to Chinese diktats on how it treats Taiwan.

(Thanks to Mark Harrison at Bourdieu Boy for the tip)


David said...

Here's a link to another article from an Australian newspaper.

Taiwan wants a space of its own, says would-be president

Nick said...

Here's a link to an interview with Ma from ABC Radio Australia's Asia Pacific Program,

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, guys