Taiwanese politics has always been polarizing and sensational. Politicians will often say the most preposterous things to not only appeal to their respective party’s base, but to appear on the front page of various Taiwanese media outlets. The opposition pro-China Kuomintang, lambasted President Tsai Ing-wen for simply referring to herself as, “President of Taiwan,” in a letter to congratulate Yilan, a northern county in Taiwan, and Rockville, Maryland on establishing sister city ties.
The KMT decried Tsai for “changing the status quo” and called on her to “drop out of next year’s presidential election, for [which] she is no longer qualified to run.” President Tsai has always been labeled as someone who doesn’t, “love the ROC,” enough. These so-called “criticisms” against President Tsai for insufficient patriotism have become a normal routine for KMT politicians to score political points. It has gotten to the point where Terry Gou, the founder of Foxconn and aspirant presidential candidate for the KMT, wants Tsai to wear a pink hat with the ROC flag logo while on a state visit to the Caribbean this Thursday. However, the most absurd comments came from a 40 year old Kuomintang legislator, Jason Hsu. Mr. Hsu, in a press conference with his fellow KMT caucus members said, “Tsai actions might have constituted treason.”
Has Taiwanese politics reached a new-low when opposition parties are accusing an incumbent president, without any conclusive evidence, of treason? Or is it because of next year’s Presidential election that any anti-Tsai comments are meant to energize their political base to vote for their party to win the presidency, and a majority in the Legislature Yuan.
What’s the definition of treason? Let’s define it. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is an act of attempting to overthrow the government of a state to which the offender owes allegiance to. Since being inaugurated on May 20th, 2016, when has President Tsai ever attempted to betray the 23.5 million Taiwanese citizens? Where has President Tsai broken any laws? What has she done that’s considered to be treasonous act? On numerous occasions, President Tsai has reaffirmed her commitments to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty from Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s revisionist, expansionist and annexation ambitions. She has also rejected Xi’s calls on for Taiwan to forgo its sovereignty by accepting the so-called One Country, Two Systems formula. She’s not the one who would risk the Taiwanese well-being in exchange for economic incentives from the same authoritarian regime that wants to wipe Taiwan off the map, shouldn’t that considered treasonous?
Since when has referring yourself as President of Taiwan became treasonous? The world knows Taiwan as simply Taiwan, not the Republic of China. International media, such as the New York Times and others, have always referred to the island nation’s highest elected national leader as the President of Taiwan. Few, if any, media outlets that uses the Republic of China to refer to Taiwan. Even US president Donald Trump, who perhaps isn’t knowledgeable about Taiwan’s complicated political situation, addressed Tsai as the president of Taiwan. The KMT is attempting to make something newsworthy out of what amounts to an essentially true statement.
The KMT enjoys lambasting President Tsai for not being patriotic towards the ROC, but the party’s very own actions bring up suspicion about their own patriotism. Each time a KMT official or legislators conducts meetings with officials from Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Republic of China isn’t mentioned at all. The party often brings up the “1992 Consensus, different interpretations” to emphasis the importance of ROC, but CCP has never endorsed the KMT version of “different interpretations”, because the Chinese regime denies the legitimacy of the ROC government.
There could be some instances when KMT’s actions could be considered treasonous in the eyes of Taiwanese electorate. One shining example is when the People’s Liberation Army fighter jets crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait, entering Taiwanese air space, which caused a standoff between the Taiwanese Air Force and PLAA for 12 minutes. DPP and the United States both denounced the action as provocative. What was the KMT response? KMT Chairman Wu Drn-Yih response was, “Taiwan should deal peaceably with China.” The KMT didn’t denounce CCP’s barbaric actions against the Taiwanese people. Could you imagine, if the Republicans refused to denounce the Japanese Imperial Army for the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941? Or Democrats refusing to denounce Al- Qaeda for attacking New York. KMT silence on Chinese military forces speaks volume. If the KMT won’t denounce the CCP for intruding inside Taiwanese air space, what would the reaction be if the CCP decides to launch a full scale attack against Taiwan? Silence?
Taiwan is a democratic nation. All forms of speech, regardless of whether it’s for or against incumbent president Tsai, are protected under the constitution. However, this fundamental right doesn’t give any political party, regardless of their beliefs, the right to spread misinformation. Criticizing a sitting president over policy flaws is normal in a democratic society, but to accuse a president of something that hasn’t occurred, shows how desperate and power hungry the KMT really is. Jason Hsu knows better than to repeat the same untrue claims by his KMT brethren regarding Tsai ing-wen. Did he make these outrageous claims to quiet accusations of being a pan-green politician for voting on legalizing gay marriage? We aren’t sure. I expected more from someone who champions progressive values.
Writer: Najee J. Woods