CHINA has lodged a complaint over American President-elect Donald Trump’s call to Taiwan, which he later vigorously explained was a communication initiated by Taiwan.
The call has been described as an act that overturns almost 40 years of strictly observed US diplomatic sensitivity to the “One-China policy.”
To China, Taiwan is a renegade province. Since 1979, the US has respected Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China and is not at all a state and therefore no US official should be talking to Taiwan officials.
But then Mr. Trump is not yet an official. He is only the US president-elect to be sworn into office on January 20.
The Philippines, too, acknowledges that there is only one China and that is the Communist Party ruled People’s Republic. Our government has no official relations with the Taiwan-based Republic of China. But there are brisk trade and cultural ties between Taiwan and our country. And Taiwan’s Taipei Economic Cooperation Office and the Philippines’ Manila Economic Cooperation Office give cover to the relations between Filipinos and Taiwan Chinese.
But it’s not diplomatic but physical injury that once caused Taiwan to sort of “break” its relations with us.
A Times editorial on May 14, 2013, titled “A blip, not a strain on PH-Taiwan relations” tells the story.
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It is most unfortunate that the government of Taiwan has suspended the issuance of visas to Filipinos intending to either work or visit their island. The suspension was in reaction to the unfortunate killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in contested waters a few days ago.
The emotional reaction is understandable because Taiwan considers itself the aggrieved party. But Taiwan-Philippine relations have always been excellent, and there is no reason why they should not continue to remain so.
Sooner or later, the incident will be seen in its proper perspective. The PCG was only doing its job, and had no intention of inflicting harm, much less causing the death, of the fisherman from Taiwan. A representative from the Philippine government has already visited the family of the victim to offer condolences and to explain why the country had to act the way it did.
The Taiwanese should understand the Philippines’ situation vis-à-vis its territorial waters.
China, for one, has been aggressively asserting its claim on Philippine territory in recent months and taking no action against perceived threats is not an acceptable option.
Unlike China, Taiwan may be easier to talk to where territorial conflicts are concerned.
One tragic event should not permanently strain Philippine-Taiwan relations.