With National Security, Diplomacy and Cross-Strait Measures in Disarray, the DPP has 3 Questions for Ma Ying-jeou

With the recent national security and diplomatic chaos, the DPP’s Director of Culture and Information Cheng Wen-tsang and Director of International Affairs Lin Chen-wei held a press conference today asking President Ma to answer publicly the following 3 questions: 1) Are you satisfied with the national security team’s handling of the Diaoyutai incident? 2) Do you approve of the situation in which Taiwan’s Representative to Japan engaged in negotiations upfront while the Minister of Foreign Affairs undermined his efforts behind the scenes? 3) Do you support Su Chi’s philosophy of suspending diplomatic competition and arms purchases?

Director Cheng expressed that during the Diaoyutai incident, the national security team did not perform methodologically and could not consolidate the government’s stance immediately nor effectively. In addition, Taiwan’s Representative to Japan Koh Se-kai was on the front lines engaging in negotiations with Japan while protecting Taiwan’s dignity and rights. However, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was actually undermining those efforts behind the scenes. In addition, Director Cheng pointed out that the Secretary-General of the National Security Council Su Chi proposed the new concept of a ‘diplomatic truce’ and suspension of US arms sales during the cross-strait negotiations. The major issues of national security, diplomacy and cross-strait talks affect Taiwan and fall under the authority of President Ma. We request that he responds to our questions publicly.

Director Lin questioned why the decision-making process was a black box during the renewed talks between the SEF and ARATS and said that he could not see any strategic goals or leadership abilities. The results and the erratic decisions made further allowed Taiwan to lose the realization of its overall interests. In the aftermath of the Diaoyutai incident, the Ma government dealt with it coldly at first and then had a heated reaction. Now, they are putting a stop to their actions, showing that the national security team was in a dilemma and hesitated in making any moves. Had they started off listening to the DPP’s suggestion of putting aside any disputes on sovereignty and quickly gaining national consensus to restart negotiations in the fishing industry, we would not have these complex situations. In addition, the actions of a few legislators engaged in their overzealous methods has resulted in the lost of focus on the actual problem.

Director Lin also expressed that the Japanese media has already reported that China and Japan have reached an agreement to cooperate on developing the natural gas reserves under the East Sea. The formal announcement will be made this week. However, since the natural gas is located within the 5 mining areas declared by our country in 1970, we would like to ask President Ma how he is going to negotiate with both China and Japan on the rights to the natural gas reserves.

Director Cheng emphasized that a diplomat working hard on the front lines for the country should be encouraged rather than be attacked or even discredited due to his political stance. Director Lin also expressed that Representative Koh Se-kai tried his best after the incident to work with Japan to guarantee the fishermen’s rights, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his dissatisfaction behind his back. Lin asked President Ma to clarify the decisions made by the Minister in directing the diplomatic process and whether or not he instructed Representative Koh to engage in any negotiations and why he can say that Koh did not fulfill his responsibilities. In addition, Lin said that during the DPP’s administration, Representatives Luo Fu-chuan and Koh Se-kai worked to allow visa-free travel for Taiwanese tourists and the recognition of each country’s drivers’ licenses. Japan also expressed its support several times for Taiwan’s entry as an observer into the World Health Assembly and made cross-strait peace and stability one of the strategic goals of the US-Japan Alliance. Both Representatives’ contributions to reinforce diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Japan cannot be easily erased.

Director Lin said that during the Diaoyutai incident, President Ma did not re-examine problems with his diplomatic decisions. Instead, he placed the blame on the representative. Premier Liu Chao-hsuan even made a false accusation, stating that Tsai Ming-yao’s ability to give orders to the Coast Guard was a remnant of the DPP administration. Director Lin pointed out that the DPP has never taken these kinds of actions and that the national security team would first convene a response team. Only after a discussion has taken place would they authorize the Coast Guard to implement response measures—officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry would not give orders directly.

With regards to National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi’s proposal of suspending diplomatic competition and arms purchases, Director Lin questioned whether or not this type of strategy was in line with Taiwan’s interests. It is known that a key US personnel went to the Presidential Office to talk with Su. Secretary Su immediately told the American side that the new government was going to stop the arms sales in order to improve cross-strait relations. However, Former President Lee Teng-hui and the DPP administration were both able to maintain an appropriate separation on the issues of arms purchases and cross-strait relations, thereby allowing Taiwan to enhance its national security. In order to have a bargaining chip in negotiations with China, Secretary Su’s action may forfeit Taiwan’s best interests.

On the topic of Wang Jin-ping’s proposal that the establishment of diplomatic offices on both sides of the Strait and other important matters should pass through the Legislative Yuan for examination and approval, Director Cheng pointed out that rules on the cross-strait relationship already have provisions for the legislature’s role in monitoring. The regulation of which topics should be discussed and approved by the Legislative Yuan as well as the monitoring and transparency of cross-strait affairs are important mechanisms to guarantee Taiwan’s sovereignty. Wang’s proposal also conforms to the principle of legislative monitoring in democratic countries.

Director Cheng expressed that particularly in regards to the airports that are involved in the direct links, changes to commercial aviation laws and other relevant regulations should naturally be approved by the Legislative Yuan. In addition, the establishment of representative offices by the SEF and ARATS in each other’s country deals with consular and visa services, which involves relevant diplomatic regulations. The DPP asks its legislative caucus to strengthen the monitoring of cross-strait affairs and let citizens know which matters being discussed on both sides of the Strait will affect their rights and interests.