Ma mismanaged Diaoyutai Incident; the Resumption of SEF-ARATS Talks at the expanse of national security

DPP’s Director of Communication and Information Cheng Wen-tsang expresses that the Ma administration is irresponsible in its decision to make subordinates bear the responsibility of the Diaoyutai fishing boat accident. As for the SEF-ARATS talks, DPP’s Director of Foreign Affairs Lin Chen-wei understands that it was the KMT who privately communicated with the United States to halt Taiwan’s purchase of arms. KMT should explain this allegation as it directly contradicts with President Ma’s initial emphasis on the protection of Taiwan’s security during the presidential elections. Director Lin suspects that the SEF-ARATS talks are related to the halt of arm sales and fears that this is detrimental to Taiwan’s national interests.

Director Cheng states that the Ma administration has been evasive in disclosing its decision making process and failed to demonstrate any crisis management ability in order to resolve the Diaoyutai fishing boat incident. Ultimately, the Ma administration resorted to pushing all the blame and responsibility to a second-level staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign affairs and national security are two of the core responsibilities of the Presidency. It is impossible that a second-level MOFA staff would have he authority to command the navy patrols, so the command must have been given by the President or the Premier. Director Cheng emphasizes that it was very inappropriate for Ma’s reaction. Unless President Ma was caught completely unaware of his responsibilities in foreign affairs and national security and failed to respond immediately during the collision, then it appears that Ma’s misstep is simply being pinned on a subordinate.

With regards to the negotiations between SEF and ARATS, Director Lin understands that the KMT had already been in private talks with the U.S. to halt the sale of arms which compels him to believe that this request is related to the recent SEF-ARATS talks. Whether or not National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi agreed to stop purchasing arms from United States in return for the SEF-ARATS talks during his rumored secret meeting in Hong Kong should also be disclosed. Director Lin emphasizes that it is not in Taiwan’s best interest for the SEF-ARATS talks to be linked with the halt of arms sales from the U.S. and President Ma and Secretary-General Su should clarify this matter.

Director Cheng states that cross-strait relations had been given the uttermost importance after the KMT came into power and the KMT has made efforts to not provoke China with promises of that have sacrificed Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts, halt of arms sales. During the SEF-ARATS talks, Chinese Foreign Affairs publicly announced its wishes for United States to halt its sales of arms to Taiwan, and this coincided with the Washington Post report of Taiwan’s request for United States to halt its sale of arms to Taiwan. KMT should also explain whether U.S. sources are correct in saying that the KMT was behind the request to stop the arms sale.

Director Cheng states that the KMT’s indecisive and ever-changing attitude is the reason behind the halt of the sales of arms from the United States to Taiwan. President Ma continues to flip-flop his position on US arms sales, initially supporting it during his visit to the United States, and later contradicting himself by opposing the arms sale upon return to Taiwan. He also demonstrated similar indecisiveness during his election campaign when he claimed to have supported the arms sale but recanted it after his election. Director Cheng emphasizes that whether or not United States arms will be purchased is a decision that lies with the KMT because it holds a three-fourths majority in the Legislative Yuan.

As for President Ma’s suggestion of Taiwan and China possibly emulating the “One Germany, Two Countries” concept, Director Lin states that while this does not exactly meet the DPP’s standards, it is an improvement from “One China, different interpretations” because East Germany and West Germany each acknowledged the other’s right to sovereignty and were both members of the United Nations at the same time. Director Lin hopes that President Ma can stand his ground with this ideology and not recant this statement in the near future.