Something else I meant to discuss in my previous post about Premier Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) address to the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Taipei yesterday was his insistence that Taiwanese should be “open minded” and welcoming when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visits Taichung later this month for the fourth round of cross-strait talks. Wu’s point was that as the meeting will only touch on “technicalities” that will ostensibly benefit Taiwanese, people should show restraint in their protests targeting the envoy’s presence on Taiwanese soil.
Little did I know, as I was scribbling my notes, that moments later, Wu would be telling media outside the venue that “only irresponsible people or idiots want Taiwan independence.” So much for open-mindedness, respect and hospitality.
Back in October last year, when ARATS Vice-Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) was “jostled” during a visit in central Taiwan, many in the pan-blue camp and across the Strait were up in arms, accusing Taiwanese of violence and so on. Very little mention, however, was made of the fact that a few days earlier, the same Zhang was issuing a threat against all Taiwanese who support independence. “There will be no war in the Taiwan Strait,” Zhang had said, “as long as Taiwan does not declare independence.” Tens of thousands of people, if not more, could die if China attacked Taiwan, and a top envoy made the threat explicit. And yet, Taiwanese had to apologize because Zhang could not manage to remain on his feet when a group of elderly Taiwanese surrounded him. Poor thing.
The same day Wu was calling on Taiwanese to be nice to Chen, a Taiwanese student in South Korea was reportedly being harassed by a group of Chinese for displaying the Nationalist flag at a Korean-language speech contest. For years, Taiwanese young and old have been harassed for showing the flag — that is, when they are actually allowed to do so. For years, Beijing has endangered the lives of Taiwanese by excluding Taiwan from regional and international organizations such as the WHO, ICAO, the IPCC and others. At a series of academic forums in Taipei last month, retired PLA generals and Chinese academics again threatened war and contended that the independence movement was “doomed” (hardly a nicety), and yet, we should remain hospitable.
How much longer will Taiwanese bend over backwards to be nice and hospitable to Chinese officials who through word and deed are doing the exact opposite? When will Taiwanese finally stand up and ask for the respect that they deserve?