Analysis 101: Of diplomatic faux pas: the Taiwan factor

The recent row between the Philippines and the Republic of China (Taiwan) has caused anxiety on thousands of Filipinos working in Taiwan and for those businessmen who have engaged productively with Formosa. Obviously, this has been a mistake in all fronts. I think one must be guided in accordance with what was in the dictum of international relations and more so, protecting its vital national interests in the long run.

While we are quick to defend the deportations of the 14 Taiwanese to China on the grounds that they have committed cybercrimes amounting to as much as US$ 20 Million but reason dictates that when they have Taiwanese passports, therefore, it is safe to assume that they are from Taiwan and if they are holders of Chinese passports, of course, it follows without doubt that they are from Mainland China to include those in the former British Colony of Hong Kong and that of the former Portuguese colony, Macau. According to the Palace, they were deported out to Mainland China because it is of our own “national interests to do so”.

I agree with Bobby Romulo in his article dated February 11, 2011 in the Philippine Star that this could not have been blown out of proportions if there were no mention of the “One-China” policy. It was at all, law enforcement matter until this policy came out of the open and apparently, it came from the Palace. One must never infer that the people of Taiwan are Chinese for the very same reason that they have their own flag, nationality, people, geography, currency, holds diplomatic, trade, cultural and scientific relations with almost all countries around the world and much more, they have their own currency of which this has been earned by Filipinos working in Taiwan and also, much more, the Taiwanese passports are recognized by no less than 150 countries all over the world, including the Philippines.

On the labor front, I agree with former DOLE Undersecretary Susan Ople, the daughter of my favourite author, Senator Blas Ople when she asks if we are truly ready to walk the talk? She highlights the contingency plans of the government should Taiwan decided not to renew the contracts of Filipinos in the island.

Foremost, as a Foreign Service scholar, having graduated from the esteemed Lyceum of the Philippines University, let me stressed this as part of my own analysis of the matter:

While we are in agreement that it is of the best national interests of the Philippines to deport these criminals to where prosecution awaits, it follows common sense that the deporting countries should send the fugitives to where these came from and to where they hold passports and identification. As claimed by Sec. Bobby Romulo, these Taiwanese nationals have indeed identification papers, passports but these were confiscated by the NBI.

Second, by deciding which track to follow, let us not forget how the decisions will affect us in the future. We have vital economic and diplomatic interests with Taiwan as much as we have most of the bulk of labor market for Taiwan and Filipino workers find it thriving to work on the island compared to other labor destination, then this too should have been considered.

Thirdly, why invoke the “One-China” policy on this present case? One China policy pertains to diplomatic and political relations notwithstanding the fact that in spite our recognition of Beijing as the CHINA now (PROC), we also maintain economic, trade and cultural relations with Taiwan, in fact our workers were issued Taiwanese visa, have to earn Taiwanese currency and above all, take Taiwanese airlines coming from Manila to Taipei. That made our bilateral relations to both PROC and ROC peculiar in all sense.

Let us admit, there were lapses in judgment in the deportation process. It is wrong to deport someone to a country that does not have possession of these people based on its passports and identification cards. It is as if Filipinos are deported to Indonesia if they have no passports because they looked like the same and almost speak the same Malayo language? Let us learn that our actions has repercussions which affects our fellowmen.

With this, let me then ask: is it in the national interests of the Philippines to rob all OFWs the job they are presently working and unwittingly close the doors to countless others who wanted to work in Taiwan? After all these, what can we get out of our wrong actions and misplaced pride?

There has to be a win-win bilateral solution to this deadlock, otherwise, we in the Philippines, because of our misplaced pride will suffer the most and that is the reality here. Mind if you also check if you have seen how reality can bite us?

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