No “Troublemaker”: Ma meets Búcaro, advocates Conflict Resolution

Leonel Búcaro, president of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), met with Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday. Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes Ma as saying that he had always advocated peaceful resolution of international conflicts, no matter if cross-strait relations (i. e. relations with China), or a fisheries agreement with Japan, was the issue. He would continue to promote international peace and cooperation under the the premise of putting aside disagreements and creating mutual benefit (擱置爭議、共創雙贏).  It had been this attitude which had turned the Taiwan Strait, once a point of conflict, into a road of peace and prosperity, and a place very different from the Korean peninsula’s current status, Ma said.

President Ma also referred to a proposal he said he had issued last year in August, suggesting that mainland China, Japan and Taiwan could have separate bilateral consultations to lower tensions and promote common development of resources in the East China Sea. Ma cited the Japanese-Taiwanese fisheries agreement of earlier this month as an example of how to make sure that fishing vessels from both sides wouldn’t interfere with each other, without affacting either side’s sovereignty.

He also expressed great gratitude and admiration (非常感佩) for the Central American Parliament’s support for his East China Sea initiative (a resolution passed in February), and support for Taiwanese participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (a resolution passed in March), in activities of the UN United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, and Taiwanese participation in international affairs in general.

Búcaro and his delegation arrived in Taiwan on April 28 for a six-day visit, according to Taiwan’s state newsagency CNA. He is a member of El Salvadors left-wing FMLN party and was elected last October for a one-year term. The Central American Parliament was established in Guatemala-City in 1991. According to Parlacen, its twenty direct representatives are directly elected from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and the Dominican Republic, and the former presidents and vice presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic are also members. It is yet to achieve the goals it would take to make it a real parliament; its objective is to realize the integration of the Central American countries. […] The parliamentary groups reflect the ideological lines of the members of the Central American Parliament and are organized according to the political orientation of their parties.

Búcaro’s delegation includes members from all six Parlacen member states. They were also scheduled to meet Taiwanese foreign ministry officials including deputy foreign minister Simon Ko (柯森耀), legislative-yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), environmental protection officials, and other officials.

El Salvador is one of currently 22 UN member states (plus the Vatican state) who maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Taiwan, along with Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, is an observation state to Parlacen.

Taiwan’s military academy (Republic of China Military Academy, ROCMA) trains military from diplomatic allies. In 2010, this included trainees from El SalvadorSuch exchange programs play a contributing role in cementing diplomatic ties with our allies, Taiwan Today, a ministry of foreign affairs magazine, quoted then ROCMA superintendent Chuan Tzu-jui (全子瑞) in October 2010. Michael E. Allison, a researcher of Central American affairs, didn’t come across much about the Salvadorian-Taiwanese military relationship at the time, but noticed that [i]t doesn’t appear that El Salvador’s relationship with Taiwan (rather than China) has caused any trouble within the FMLN (i. e. Búcaro’s party), which has been in government in El Salvador since 2009.

Not much can be found online about Taiwan’s role in El Salvador’s civil war either, but if Taipei clearly took sides at the time (which doesn’t seem unlikely),  even at home, the incumbent president reportedly disavowed any plans to judge his party’s enemies from the country’s civil war. Either way, political allegiance at home doesn’t seem to define dedication to foreign allies. When Ma Ying-jeou visited El Salvador in summer 2009 to attend the FMLN president-elect Mauricio Funes‘ inauguration, he also met with outgoing president Antonio Saca who is a member of the ARENA party, a party founded by a death-squad leader, Roberto d’Aubuisson. Saca was reportedly late for his meeting with Ma, and cut the scheduled meeting short. According to the Taipei Times, Saca had been close to former president Chen Shui-bian.

On Monday, president Ma, at an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the “Wang-Koo summit”, vowed [..] that his government would not seek or promote independence from the mainland, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

“We will not push for ‘two Chinas, one China, one Taiwan’, or Taiwan’s independence, within or outside” Taiwan, he said at an event in Taipei marking the 20th anniversary of the “Wang-Koo summit”.

In an interview with the BBC‘s Rachel Harvey, in 2011, Ma said that we do not want to be a troublemaker. We want to be an enabler of peace. It seems that this has remained his constant tune in meetings with foreigners, officials or not.


» Advocate medical parole for Chen Shui-bian, Carribean News Now, April 30, 2013
» 萨尔瓦多外交部竟三次称“台湾共和国”, Huanqiu Shibao, June 2, 2009


5 Comments to “No “Troublemaker”: Ma meets Búcaro, advocates Conflict Resolution”

  1. When I read this statement “We will not push for ‘two Chinas, one China, one Taiwan’, or Taiwan’s independence, within or outside” Taiwan… I felt it sounded a little bit odd, so I checked the original:

    馬總統強調,論在國內或國外,我方都不會推動「兩個中國」、「一中一台」、或「台灣獨立」。(via Yahoo Taiwan)

    The Chinese version puts the important parts in brackets and it’s a little bit clearer now. So basically what he says is he will continue the undefinable status quo as part of his realpolitik, but ideologically stick to the one China principle, where “One China” means Republic of China. All this sounds like nothing new. It’s more like wanting to give some reassurance to the CPP that he’s still someone to work with after his recent liaison with Shinzo Abe.

    What’s your take on his motives?


  2. I’m only following Taiwanese politics loosely, so don’t make too much of my take, MKL. Ma Ying-jeou most probably thinks of himself as Chinese first, and Taiwanese next. The harmony gospel he’s been preaching since he became president seems to suggest that – not just closer ties with China, but for a learned lawyer, his views seem “holistic” (to use a favorable term) rather than technical. This seems to apply to the trial of his predecessor, too, and while he tries to give himself the air of a modern technocrat, he is no people person at all, and tends to feel offended like a traditional mandarin when people publicly distrust him or his skills.

    We will not push for ‘two Chinas, one China, one Taiwan’, or Taiwan’s independence, within or outside” Taiwan was the translation the South China Morning Post chose, and yes, the terms in brackets are quotations of established terms regularly used by China and by KMT politicians alike.

    Basically, as China may become a bit less of a growth engine, it may dawn on the Ma administration that trade with China isn’t everything (although they probably continue to believe that ECFA is an enabler for similar agreements with other countries and trade blocks – see the interview with the BBC linked to above). Politics often begin when the actual trends have already moved elsewhere, and Ma’s concept of profiting from Chinese growth may be no exception.

    As for political talks with China, I have no idea what may be on his mind, or on the minds of Taiwan’s “elites”. If I had to place a bet, it would be that Ma doesn’t want to be the president who starts such talks – unless it would be about a peace treaty without further ramifications, like “reunification”. As you can hardly have one thing without the other when talking with Beijing, my guess would be that we won’t see the Ma administration in such talks.

    What’s yours?


  3. On a completely different issue, you’ve become a father recently?


  4. @Justrecently: Good points. During my few years of living here, and following the local politics (also with help of my wife’s and friends’ interpretations) I believe that the KMT doesn’t have a clear vision for Taiwan when it comes to resolving the status, and clarifying the relationship with China. Staying in power is the main concern, so it seems, the rest is a lot of empty talk meant to appease the CPP, distract the DPP, and feed the media which then further feeds the general population with some unimportant stories. I can see what kind of stuff creates buzz on the internet here in Taiwan, and it’s rarely one of Ma’s gaffes about the status of Taiwan (which are interestingly a lot of times the main criticism of Taiwan’s expat “commentators”), but more so actual problems like corruption or the 4th nuclear power plant. The way I see the Taiwan issue is that all parties lie to themselves (by all parties I mean people of red, green, and blue convictions). The reason for that is very complex, as you know, but the core idea behind it is that they all can have their cake and eat it, too. I’m not sure how long this can go on the way it does now. At some point China will become impatient with whoever is in charge of the KMT, while the next generation of Taiwanese (current late teens and early twens) are getting more and more distant from the idea of a “unification” with PRC, despite the current sunshine politics across the Strait. These are the youngsters who go out and protest against nukes, Want Want Media, corruption, and they are the first generation, that’s not trying to remove the ROC from Taiwan, but rather change it from the inside. It’s less about technicalities of names, phrases, semantics like it was under CSB, but more about the feeling, the emotion, perhaps the ease of having a “heimat” which is Taiwan/ROC, a conundrum that divided people for the past 20 years, but the discussion shall now be put aside to focus on refining the emotion during the comfy status quo. It’s quite an interesting phenomenon to observe from the inside. That has the consequence that a lot of youngsters proudly identify themselves with the ROC flag, which is now seen as the Taiwan flag (like here or here). While the KMT seems to be floating Taiwan towards China, the new generation is drifting away from it more and more as time passes. Barring some unforeseen incidents or actions, it looks good for the KMT in short term, but not so good in the long term, when the next generation of KMT leaders completely loses touch with the Mainland identity of their grandfathers and grand grand fathers (let’s say somewhere between the years 2030 and 2040). But until then it’s still a long long time. I can only hope that when my daughter reaches my age (here I’m answering your question in the 2nd comment), Taiwan will still be democratic, and people less divided over national identity.


  5. I can only hope that when my daughter reaches my age (here I’m answering your question in the 2nd comment), Taiwan will still be democratic, and people less divided over national identity.

    Congratulations! The good news is that as much as politics matters, it isn’t everything. What strikes me though is that when she’s reached your age, she will belong to a demographic minority, if things don’t change in ageing Taiwan in that regard. I’m wondering not just what kind of country she’ll be living in, but also what her demands and expectations will be, and the decisions she’ll make.

    Michael Cole has a post about Taiwan’s youth movement today – very optimistic, of course, and tinged with some of the characteristic alarmism among many Taiwan bloggers, but there seems to be some kind of new tide anyway.
    I remember that you had some about these or similar movements, too, recently.


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