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Jun 6, 2008

In the wake of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Po-hsiung's recent trip to China, during which he referred to President Ma as "Mr. Ma," Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) chair Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) was asked to clarifyhow to address Taiwanese and Chinese officials. Lai said using the title of "Mr." was a tactic understanding between both sides and avoided the problem over official titles for 16 years.

The KMT often tries to spin this type of strategy as "practical," but it is also self-demeaning. Sure, on the surface, it appears to be equal if the Chinese and KMT officials address each other as "Mr."

But the fact is the DPP and most Taiwanese have no problem recognizing that Hu Jintao is in fact the leader of a country. There's no need to demote his title. Even the KMT knows in reality that there are two countries here.

It's just the KMT knows the CCP refuses to hear it, and some portion of the KMT maintain their own fantasizes of being politically Chinese. So they willingly submit to what is really an effort by Beijing to demote Taiwan's status to a Chinese province.

Take another example: when then Vice President-elect Vincent Siew went to China for an economic conference, he was greeted on Hainan island by the Vice-governor of Hainan. As far as the Chinese are concerned, they have the same effective rank. But for Taiwan, that is not real equality unless you accept the One China fantasy.

I don't think Taiwan will earn Beijing's respect or any real leverage by conforming to this kind of framework, however fair it may appear on the surface.

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