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Monday, February 08, 2010

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Irony

One often overlooked part of the R.O.C polity's State structure is the The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC) created in 1928. This body hitherto has had the responsibility for "enhancing Taiwan’s relations with Mongolia and the Tibetan government-in-exile". News has now come in that the commission may have undertaken a significant shift in its policy towards "promoting cross-strait exchanges". I'll leave you the kind reader to follow up on the details but a quote at the bottom of the piece struck me as hugely ironic:
Asked by the Taipei Times why MTAC would not accept the verification of authenticity of Green Books issued by the Tibetan government-in-exile for people who claim to be Tibetan refugees, MTAC chairman Kao Su-po (高思博) said the verification must come from “a proper government authority” and that the verification from “an exiled Tibetan organization” is not enough.
In 1949, the KMT lost control of China to Mao's Communist party and was effectively expelled from the country pretty much on pain of death. Then leader General Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan with his entire troop force and millions of refugees, bringing with them the apparatus and law of the R.O.C. Despite the fact that the R.O.C constitution was not implemented on Taiwan until 1949 and then immediately frozen to allow Martial Law, Chiang nevertheless set about recreating the R.O.C on Taiwan, with the exception of the rights enshrined in its constitution. Chiang's R.O.C was a Government in exile and only survived owing to US protection and funding (and in spite of later US attempts to overthrow Chiang). This was the origin of the two Chinas problem. Had the US actually refused straight away to recognise Chiang's R.O.C as a 'proper government authority' , history, and Taiwan's current status, would have been dramatically different. Had the US regarded Chiang's R.O.C as an 'exiled Chinese organisation', and contrived an excuse to deny verification of R.O.C passports or assistance to Taiwanese and exiled Chinese it is highly unlikely that today Taiwanese would be able to enjoy the ability to travel the world and conduct business with the US as it does today.

Whereas under the DPP the MTAC would confirm the identity of a Tibetan refugee if the Tibetan government-in-exile could verify the person’s Tibetan refugee status", it seems now that since the MTAC will be subsumed within the Mainland Affairs Council from 2012 and has reoriented its operating rationale to "supporting agency in cross-strait exchanges".

It could therefore be argued that the MTAC's change in policy toward Tibetan exiles is ironic in the extreme and with no sense of historical reflection or wisdom. Can this R.O.C loyalist Government in exile not see that but for the grace of American indulgence, they could have been the victims of the same political convenience that currently seems to inform their blind rush to please the Chinese? (not that it is working). It also potentially marks the beginning of another tragic chapter in the history of Tibetan peoples.

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