THE Chinese government has reacted angrily to the refusal of opposition leader Sam
Rainsy to bow to Chinese pressure to cease official contacts with representatives
of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The stormy Chinese response is the result of Rainsy's presence at both the May 12-15
meeting of the Council of Asian Liberal Democrats (CALD)in Jakarta, which was attended
by representatives of Taiwan's now-ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive
Party (DPP), as well as the May 20 inauguration of Taiwan's DPP President Chen Shui
Bian in Taipei.
The Chinese government has interpreted Rainsy's refusal to respect Chinese requests
that he shun the DPP as a violation of Cambodia's official acceptance of the PRC's
"one-China policy" which asserts that Taiwan is an indivisible part of
The policy has effectively isolated Taiwan from participation in international forums
of any kind for the past three decades.
"We informed representatives of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) that we would like
[party members] not to have any formal relations with the DPP and not to send any
representatives to the so-called inauguration of Chen Shui Bian, but later found
out that Sam Rainsy himself went to Taiwan to the so-called inauguration," PRC
Embassy Counsellor Zhang Jin Feng told the Post in a June 7 interview.
"The Chinese Embassy surely has the right to express dissatisfaction ... since
Sam Rainsy said he adheres to the 'one-China policy' and so he should not have gone
to the so-called inauguration."
The SRP's tangle with the Chinese began on May 10 when the Chinese diplomatic official
invited SRP MP Tioulong Saumura and SRP Vice-President Kong Korm for a meeting at
the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh while Rainsy was in transit to the May 15 CALD
meeting in Jakarta.
"The Chinese requested that in my capacity as President of CALD that I expel
representatives of the DPP from CALD or at least prevent them from speaking during
the meeting," Rainsy told the Post. "I was also requested not to go to
the inauguration of Taiwan's President Chen Shui Bian."
Rainsy insisted that the Chinese have misinterpreted his motives for attending the
CALD meeting and Chen's inauguration and voiced strong support for the government's
official "one-China policy".
"I can't, even as CALD Chairman, expel the DPP from CALD; this is against the
democratic spirit of CALD," he said. "As for Chen's inauguration, it would
have been very difficult for me not to go since the DPP is a founding and active
member [of CALD] and I support the democratic stance of the DPP in how they manage
political life in Taiwan."
According to Rainsy, the "widespread" Chinese protests to CALD delegates
over DPP participation at the CALD meeting were based on a Chinese "misunderstanding"
of the nature of democratic states.
"We must make a distinction between relations between government and government
and political party and political party," he said.
"In communist countries the party and the state are indivisible, but in democratic
countries these institutions are separate so [the Chinese] should not be too sensitive
about party-to-party relations."
In a phone interview from Taipei, the Director of the DPP's International Affairs
Department, Shiao Bikhimh, confirmed the furious Chinese opposition to DPP participation
at the Jakarta CALD meeting.
"We were a little surprised by how hostile the Chinese response was to DPP participation
at the CALD meeting," Bikhimh said. "All [CALD] members were heavily pressured
to 'disinvite' the DPP and to not allow me to speak at the meeting, but all our fellow
delegates stood together and felt such pressure did not warrant expulsion of the
DPP and so the Chinese were unsuccessful."
"According to Bikhimh, China's opposition to DPP attendance at CALD was "unreasonable".
"The CALD meeting really had nothing to do with the "one-China policy"
or Taiwan independence," she said. "CALD is simply an organ devoted to
promote democracy and liberalism in Asia."
Not so, said Counsellor Zhang at the PRC Embassy in Phnom Penh.
"At the CALD meeting DPP officials proposed to adopt a resolution attacking
mainland China and advocating independence for Taiwan," she said of China's
justification for seeking to bar the DPP from the CALD meeting. "But this game
has come to a satisfying conclusion because Southeast Asian political parties [present
at the CALD meeting] did not respond to the DPP's plans."
While shaken by China's vehement reaction to his contact with the DPP, Rainsy indicated
that he would continue to have links with the Taiwanese and support for Taiwan's
democratic development within what he perceived as the boundaries of the "one-China
"I'm thinking of those 23 million people in Taiwan ... I never said those 23
million people should be independent [from China], but as a matter of fact they live
in a different system from the one in place in mainland China," he said.
"I support democracy for those 23 million Taiwanese just as I advocate democracy
for Thailand, the Philippines, Burma and Indonesia ... It doesn't mean that I support
DPP policies on independence."
Zhang warned that China would continue to monitor Rainsy for future perceived violations
of the one-China policy by continuing to have contacts with the DPP.
"Sam Rainsy is not just an individual, he's a representative of one of three
political parties and the National Assembly [and] as a member of parliament he should
adhere to the "one-China policy" advocated by King Sihanouk and as a political
leader he should keep his promises," she said.
"We hope that Sam Rainsy and the SRP will pay more attention [to the one-China
policy] and not, as the Chinese saying goes, 'lose what's big by chasing what's small'."