Monday, May 28, 2007

Taiwan needs a Party of Social Reconciliation and National Unity

Taiwan needs a Party of Social Reconciliation and National Unity
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
May 28, 2007

Comment: The following China Times editorial is a must read. It is a must read not because it is good. It is a must read because it is bad. The following China Times editorial is a mind-numbingly obtuse compendium of all the short-sighted, opportunistic, and counterproductive arguments for "ben tu hua" i.e., "nativization" ever advanced by the pro-nativization faction in the KMT.

China Times: The Kuomintang (KMT) wants to revise its party constitution to read, "identification with Taiwan, peaceful development." Because it has been simplified as "eliminating reunification, adding Taiwan," it is said to have provoked considerable internal controversy. But apparently everyone from presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, to Party Chairman Wu Po-hsiung, to Party Secretary General Wu Deng-yi was on the same page. Even Ma Ying-jeou's mantra, "Taiwan first, for the good of the people," was written into the party constitution. Judging by the trend, any backlash during the Party Convention in late June will probably not be able to reverse this direction. Rather than say that the KMT is following the Democratic Progressive Party's path, one might say instead that the KMT is simply being more pragmatic.

The KMT had better not imagine it can shake itself free of the reunification vs. independence issue during the year end elections. The reason is the DPP has no alternative. First, it has no achievements to brag about. Second, its record of corruption is abysmal. For it to claim that it is fighting corruption isn't terribly persuasive. Playing the "Recover KMT Assets!" card is beating a dead horse. How much political mileage can be gotten out of that is debatable. The cheapest, most effective expedient is to return to the reunification vs. independence issue. To cast the KMT as a "foreign political authority," as the "China Party," as the "Reunification Party," to kick off another "Purge Chiang Influences" campaign and rehash the 228 Incident. As long as it is possible to create the impression of a dichotomy between the KMT and "Taiwan," this tactic will have considerable political force. But the KMT can neither neutralize these impressions, nor shake off these issues. All it can do is passively take the blows. Add to this Ma Ying-jeou's "mainlander" background. Not only could Chen Shui-bian play the "Ma Ying-jeou is a Hong Konger, therefore not Taiwanese" card, even Wang Jyn-ping can play the provincial origin card. To expect the DPP not to make an issue of this in future elections is to expect the impossible. Therefore neither the KMT nor Ma Ying-jeou has any choice except to confront the issue head on.

The simplest, most direct method is to escape from this dichotomy and underscore one's identification with Taiwan. Rhetorically speaking, "peaceful development" is more neutral than "eventual reunification" or "Taiwan independence is also an option." For the KMT reunification vs. independence is question for history. It is an issue it will have to face only in a remote future. For now, it is basically a phony issue. If mainstream public opinion from beginning to end is "maintain the status quo," why fall into the Green camp's trap by adopting a position opposed to independence? Some might say that "eliminating reunification" amounts to a change in political position, but it would be better to say that it is a kind of escape, a kind of liberation from a problem that can't be solved currently. For today's KMT, defending the "Republic of China" is enough. This a permanent legacy. Those attempting to change this status quo are the Green camp and Beijing, not the KMT.

Based on former KMT Chairman Lien Chan's visits to Beijing, followed by a succession of cross-Straits economics and trade fora, the KMT's cross-Straits strategic thinking is already quite clear. It is a "win/win" economic and trade policy. Taiwan's original strength was its economic and trade advantages. Within the East Asian economic sphere, Taiwan's economic advantages gave it plenty of maneuvering room. Unfortunately the DPP has adopted a Closed Door Policy while in power. It has fixated on the independence issue, attempting to author a new constitution and to "rectify names," aggravating internal and cross-Straits opposition. Not only has it enlarged fissures on Taiwan, it has also reduced itself to the status of international "troublemaker." Taiwan's neighbors are struggling to improve their economies. Taiwan, by contrast, is immersed in an internal political struggle. The result, needless to say, is that all international maneuvering room is being "managed" by Washington and Beijing. Its international economic situation within East Asia has been marginalized. Its economic competitiveness ratings have plummeted. This is a danger signal.

Why strive for "peaceful development," if not for the greater good of Taiwan? If a political party based on Taiwan still needs to hesitate about identifying with Taiwan, embracing Taiwan, then what else is there to discuss? The KMT must acknowledge it hasn't been sufficiently diligent in developing its rationale for nativization. Whereas the DPP has advanced toward the "Republic of China" via its "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," the KMT has not made much of an effort to advance toward "Taiwan." Amending the party constitution is merely making up for this deficit.

Especially when the KMT, as opposed to the DPP, is so much more diverse in its composition and and tolerant in its ideology. We have never heard of any calls for the "Exclusion of Greens" from within the party. The KMT's distinguishing characteristic ought to be an advantage. Yet it has become a lever by which the Green camp can create divisions within the party. Today's KMT has undergone one form of factional strife after another: the New Party, the People First Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union. By now it should realize that its flexibility is its best asset.

Income distribution on Taiwan has become polarized over the years. Taiwan is becoming an "M-shaped Society" in which the middle class has disappeared. Taiwan's political culture has also become polarized. Taiwan is marching toward a politically "M-shaped Society" in which the middle way has disappeared, and one is either Blue or Green. Today's Taiwan needs a party of social reconciliation and national unity. It does not need a party that invents internal enemies and increases internal opposition. When the DPP resorts to "Exclusion of Blues" and "Exclusion of the Eleven Brigands" to establish its own credentials, for the KMT to establish its credentials by "ben tu hu" nativization of its party constitution, would seem to be a smart move!

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.05.28







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