During a roundtable on Monday, Ma was all wisdom when, channeling ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius (孟子), he said the best means by which two countries can get along was for the smaller country to be smart and flexible in dealing with the bigger one.
By smart, we can conclude that Ma meant keeping a low profile, being conciliatory and willing to compromise and not rattling the diplomatic cage — all things that his administration has managed with considerable success.
Just as the churning waters in the Taiwan Strait looked like they might be pacified by Ma the wise, however, the president on Wednesday told visiting Japanese academics that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in late June was not a treaty signed between two states. The reason?
“We do not recognize China as a state, so our relationship with each other is not one of country-to-country,” Ma said.
So in Ma’s alternate universe, former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) — who both recognized the existence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a sovereign state — were “troublemakers,” and yet the man who would deny Beijing’s legitimacy, and the government of its 1.3 billion people, is somehow a “peacemaker.”
Only in the hallucinatory world of Ma’s cross-strait politics could insulting the larger neighbor by denying its existence be equated with wisdom and peacemaking.
This op-ed, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.