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June 24, 2017

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More important things than a celeb caught smoking pot

If television and social media networks are any indication, this island has been in a frenzy over a Taiwanese actor who was arrested for smoking marijuana in mainland China. Relatively speaking, it really isn't that serious.

He will be detained in mainland China for a total of 14 days, after which he will be sent back to Taiwan.

Although according to Taiwanese law people found guilty of using category two narcotics, including cannabis, can be given a maximum three-year prison sentence, the accused are generally — if not always — ordered to undergo rehabilitation for a period of "no more than two months."

Some people have pointed out that smoking marijuana is not a serious criminal offense, and that therefore media outlets are making a mountain out of a molehill by saying that the actor has "ruined his career."

It's true that smoking marijuana isn't a serious criminal offense, but entertainment associations in mainland China recently signed an agreement not to hire entertainers who have been involved with drugs. So basically the actor ruined his career by kissing a very big market goodbye.

That being said, he has made good money and he is from a relatively wealthy family. He will survive.

There are other things and people more worthy of concern, such as former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), who according to his former boss MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), stands accused of "betraying confidential information."

This is very serious: Taiwan's biggest trading partner and biggest military threat is mainland China. And those who know politics in Taiwan know that Taiwanese politics boils down to one thing and one thing only: cross-strait relations. Cross-strait relations are precisely what the MAC and its mainland Chinese counterpart, the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), were created to oversee.

The MAC and the TAO manage cross-strait ties because their ministries of foreign affairs cannot. Having the ministries of foreign affairs be in charge of such a thing would mean that Taiwan and China recognize each other as foreign states. Neither side will have that. At least not in the foreseeable future.

Because the R.O.C. and the PRC don't recognize each other's legitimacy, official interaction was a very problematic thing up until quite recently. In order to solve this problem, quasi-official agencies like Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) were set up to facilitate interaction on a quasi-official level. The SEF and ARATS fall under the MAC and the TAO, respectively.

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