Ma's 'decade' misquote creating controversy
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The word “decade” in a full-page Wall Street Journal interview with President Ma Ying-jeou became the lightning rod for both pro-independence outrage and pro-China speculation.
December 16, 2009, 9:36 am TWN
In the article entitled “Taiwan's Detente Gamble,” Ma was quoted as saying that “whether there will be reunification as expected by the mainland side depends very much on what is going to unfold in the next decade. This is a question no one can answer at this stage.”
Ma's “decade” comment captivated local press yesterday. The Chinese language newspaper China Times, owned by the Beijing-friendly Want Want Group CEO Tsai Eng-ming, ran a front page main story on the interview, highlighting the decade quote.
The pro-independence newspaper Liberty Times interpreted Ma's word as an establishment of a “10-year observation period,” which is, in effect, a time-frame for “eventual reunification,” which Ma stated in a 2005 Newsweek International interview as the goal for the Kuomintang.
The Presidential Office said yesterday Ma was misquoted by the Wall Street Journal, arguing that the president actually said “the next decades,” and produced a tape recording of the interview as proof.
State news service Central News Agency reported that the recording clearly showed the president said “decades” rather than “decade.”
Chang Kuo-pao, the director of the Presidential Department of Public Affairs, pointed out that Ma said in the article that Taiwan's people want to secure “one or two generations” of peace before deciding what to do, adding that “generation” is commonly known to be more than 10 years.
Members of the opposition Democratic Progress Party (DPP) criticized the president's comment as weakening Taiwan's sovereignty. DPP legislator Tsai Huang-liang suggested Ma had in effect set up a “10-year surrender timetable.”
In the interview, Ma did not deviate from his middle-ground “three no's” principle, which the Journal described as “no unification during his term of office, no pursuit of de jure independence and no use of force to resolve differences across the Strait.”
In addition to commenting on reunification, Ma also took a strong stance of maintaining the island's need of arms purchases from the U.S., stating that “Taiwan will not feel comfortable to go to a negotiating table without sufficient defense buildup in order to protect the safety of the island.”
Ma apparently saw the next generations of cross-strait detente as a chance for the island's “soft power” to impact the Chinese people (“when they are struggling to have more economic freedom and possibly political freedom,” he explained) and for the people on both sides to know each other better.
“Sometimes they [the Chinese people] don't understand why we don't want unification,” Ma said in the interview. “It's quite obvious that conditions for unification are not ripe. And we don't even know each other that well.”
Chang Kuo-pao, the director of the Presidential Department of Public Affairs, produced a tape recording of an interview of President Ma Ying-jeou by the Wall Street Journal, in ...