Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A dangerous precedent

With the deportation to China of 14 Taiwanese suspects by the Philippine government, we are seeing the emergence of extraordinary rendition with Chinese characteristics, for which there are precedents

The Philippine government’s decision last week to abide by a request from Beijing and extradite 14 Taiwanese to China — despite a request by Taipei not to do so — is a situation that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration will have to handle with care.

The precedent set by Manila is a clear example of the difficult environment Taiwan continues to navigate despite improving relations across the Taiwan Strait. It highlights yet again the willingness of regional states beholden to Chinese money to toe the line on Beijing’s “one China” policy.

Prior to last week, pressure by Beijing — even when cross-strait relations were more strained — tended to be limited to symbolic matters, such as the name under which Taiwanese delegations attend artistic events. In more extreme cases it has resulted in the blocking of a Taiwanese trade office in Phnom Penh or the prevention of Taiwan from participating in regional organizations or UN agencies.

As the Chinese economy continues to grow and the region becomes increasingly attached to China, such behavior by third countries will likely become more frequent.

The forced deportation to China of the 14 Taiwanese takes us into completely new territory, where an increasingly confident China now believes it has extrajudicial rights over Taiwan.

My editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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