Taiwan's president-elect should rein in her party's extremists: China Daily

Taiwan's president-elect Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb 15, 2015.
Taiwan's president-elect Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Taiwan, on Feb 15, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

In its editorial on Apr 8, the paper urges Taiwan's President-elect Tsai Ing-wen to prevent provocative moves that could jeopardise China-Taiwan relations.

A committee of Taiwan's legislature on Wednesday (April 6) revoked legislation that prevents extremists from putting pro-independence stickers on island-issued "passports". A meaningless and unnecessary political gimmick that only further poisons trust across the Taiwan Strait.

Unauthorised tampering with "passports" not only potentially undermines their validity and compromises border controls, it may bring trouble to the holders because they could be liable to criminal charges according to the law in some countries and regions.

Despite this, pro-independence separatists on the island have been trumpeting a campaign to put stickers such as those with the words "Republic of Taiwan" on island-issued "passports".

The move was so farcical that the authorities on the island amended the regulations last year so the "passports" of those who repeatedly altered them in this way could be revoked.

Taiwan-issued "passports" currently enable holders to enter more than 150 countries and regions on visa-waive or visa-arrival programs, even though most of these have no official relations with the island.

For anyone who is rational and clear-minded, it does not make any sense to politicise the "passport" issue because it serves no good purpose for travellers from the island.

Yet rationality has given way to emotionalism and self-delusion now that the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party dominates the "Legislative Yuan", the island's lawmaking body.

By overturning the law banning the passport stickers and politicising it, the DPP members have trampled over common sense, making themselves a laughing stock of the international community.

The party's leader, Ms Tsai Ing-wen, has previously said she will try to maintain the "status quo" when handling cross-Straits relations. She has also reportedly expressed the wish that both sides can work jointly for peace.

Yet trust has to be won through actions, and sincerity is always subject to proof. The latest move by the DPP lawmakers, taken shortly before Tsai is scheduled to be sworn in as the island's top leader on May 20, is definitely counterproductive in that respect.

Ms Tsai has admitted the biggest challenge that she faces is reviving the island's sluggish economy, and this is a pressing task. In the first two months of this year, the cross-Straits trade volume dived 15.4 percent compared with last year.

Ms Tsai should waste no time in reining in the extremists within her party from making further provocative moves as they are jeopardising the improvement in relations achieved under the eight years of Kuomintang rule.

Failure to do so will serve neither side's interests, both politically and economically.

* China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 newspapers.