The cross-straits standoff of six decades added another rough chapter this last week. China’s chief cross-straits negotiator Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) met with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in the highest level talks since the Communist and Nationalist war in 1949.
To demonstrate the absurdity of China-Taiwan relations, Chen and Ma finally managed to meet on the provision that Ma could be introduced as President of Taiwan and Chen would neither protest or acknowledge the “president” title for the leader of “the renegade province”. For neither protesting nor acknowledging, Taiwan now infers that China agrees to Ma’s “mutual non-denial” policy. That is, that both China and Taiwan will no longer pretend that the other doesn’t exist. So the diplomatic coup for Taiwan is “that China is not denying the mutual non-denial policy”.
And to reach that historic step the newly elected Taiwan government had to deploy an enormous police force to contain protests, stop display of the Taiwanese flag, and other patriotic actions. They have simultaneously run a political witch-hunt and detained, without charge, a number of the opposition party. Many feel they have taken an “improve economic ties with China” mandate to regress civil rights, oppress the opposition and quietly return Taiwan to China. Most seem too apathetic to care.
But all is not lost. Though political, social and economic control may be sliding westward, thanks to 50 years of an obsessive concrete fixation, a speedy physical relocation of Taiwan to China still remains unlikely.
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