Recent Taiwanese responses to the death of fisherman Huang Shih-Cheng

The political entity known as “Taiwan” was born out of the ashes of the Chinese Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party, who govern the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which covers what is popularly known as Mainland China, and the anti-Communist Nationalists who used to do so. Each claims sovereignty over the territories governed by the other.

In contrast to the PRC, and due to its maneuverings, only a handful of countries maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. This, together with the great disparity of the size of their respective military forces, explains the siege mentality of Taiwan not just in its relations with the PRC, but with its neighbors as well.

Now we have the ongoing dispute concerning the confrontation between Taiwanese fishermen and Filipino government authorities, which resulted in the death of one of the former. I dare not call it a diplomatic dispute, because the Philippines does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. At any rate, is the dispute an offshoot of Taiwanese siege mentality, of asserting itself against all odds?

Despite the highfalutin’ arguments and statements of the Taiwanese government and people about diplomacy, patriotism, honor, and territory, the imposition of sanctions by the Taiwanese government on the Philippines, and the harassment endured by Filipinos in Taiwan, I submit that the answer is “no”.

Not just because there is no legal basis for Taiwanese position, as shown by the insightful analysis of a University of the Philippines law professor.

But because the Taiwanese themselves acknowledge the real reason therefor:

Taiwanese machismo.

They are reportedly so enamored with Filipina reporter Michelle Mediana sent there to cover the aftermath of the incident, so much so that she herself has become a newsmaker of sorts. Her Facebook account is flooded with what appear to be messages from her Taiwanese “fans”, one of whom even messaged her “I love you, you are my vegetable.”, whatever that means.

If the Taiwanese are really offended by the death of their compatriot, they should stay on message, and not be distracted by anything or anybody – not even by Mediana, who may legally be considered an attractive nuisance.

Their infatuation in, and focus on her is simply an acknowledgement on their part that the death of their compatriot is a cause for concern, but not so grave as to cause an international dispute.

And that is the proper way to view the situation.

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