Friday, June 22, 2007

This Plebiscite is a Little Different

This Plebiscite is a Little Different
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 21, 2007

Comment: The following China Times editorial is a mixed bag.

It is dead right when it observes that Pan Blues need to stop being the fall guy in a cynical dance choreographed by the Pan Greens and by Washington.

But it is dead wrong when it speaks approvingly of Ma Ying-jeou's opportunistic pandering to "ben tu" (nativist) sentiment, and pusillanimous cave in to "du tai" (independent Taiwan) ideology.

For those who may be unclear about the difference between "tai du" and "du tai," allow me to clarify.

Tai du means Taiwan independence. Du tai means an independent Taiwan.

What's the difference between Taiwan independence and an independent Taiwan?

Not much when you really get down to it.

Tai du means formal, de jure Taiwan independence. It means officially founding a "Nation of Taiwan" by redefining the Taiwan region of China as a foreign nation. It means authoring a new "Taiwanese" constitution, and making a formal declaration of Taiwanese independence. Tai du is what one normally thinks of when someone mentions Taiwan independence.

Du tai means de facto Taiwan independence. It means deviously redefining the Republic of China to denote only Taiwan instead of the entirety of China. It means paying insincere lip service to "zhong ji tong yi" (eventual reunification) or even rejecting it altogether. It means deliberately dragging one's feet on reunification or throwing up artificial barriers to reunification, in the hope that the Republic of China will gradually morph into a de facto "Nation of Taiwan."

Basically "tai du" is a Deep Green position, while "du tai" is a Pale Green or, sad to say, even a Pale Blue position.

The China Desk's position is that both tai du and du tai are utterly repugnant and totally unacceptable.

Tai du and du tai are colonialist and imperialist strategic objectives intended to Divide and Conquer China. These objectives are abetted by Taiwan independence Quislings from within China.

To accept either tai du or du tai is to surrender to colonialism and imperialism.

As anyone familiar with Mahatma Gandhi's unyielding struggle against British colonialism and imperialism in India knows, surrender to colonialism and imperialism cannot by any stretch of the imagination be construed as the realization of human rights and individual liberty.

Colonialism and imperialism is an intolerable violation of human rights and individual liberty within a weaker, victimized nation by a more powerful aggressor nation.

The China Desk champions human rights and individual liberty for the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, within a sovereign and independent, market anarchist China not subject to colonialist and imperialist coercion.

See: Market Anarchism, the Solution to the Dilemma of Taiwan Independence

This Plebiscite is a Little Different
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
June 21, 2007

Once again, the US is calling foul on President Chen. Chen Shui-bian openly declared that he intended to promote a plebiscite to join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan. Washington's response was astonishingly swift. Within ten hours or so, the State Department declared not only that it opposes any such move, in a rare public statement it asked President Chen to cease and desist. Everyone knows that plebiscites on Taiwan are phony issues. What's real is their "linkage" with major elections. But major elections are a long way off. This issue is taking effect now. Its long term effects will be worth noting.

In recent years, the three way relationship between Taipei, Washington, and Beijing has settled into a pattern. Changes to the three way geopolitical relationship are limited. Washington's bottom line is the status quo: "No attacks from Beijing. No independence for Taiwan." No sweeping change to this is likely in the short-term. What may truly lead to regional instability, is an attempt by either side of the Taiwan Strait to change the status quo and set new terms by revising the language. Over the past several years, the standard pattern was that Taipei would make the first move. Beijing would then exert pressure behind the scenes. Finally, Washington would blow the whistle and call time out. Washington's main point of leverage is Chen's "Five Noes" pledge. But over the past few years Chen Shui-bian has been probing the limits of his pledge. Every one of his moves, from his "authoring a new constitution" plebiscite, to his executive order to "terminate of the National Unification Council," to his "join the UN under the name of Taiwan" plebiscite, sought to subvert his "Five Noes."

But as discerning observers can see, this time the situation is a little different. First, Washington's reaction was swifter than in the past. Its language was also clearer. Not only did it not recite the "Five Noes," it clearly stated that it "opposes" the plebiscite. It also publicly demanded that Chen "exercise leadership by rejecting such a proposed referendum." Second, the Blue camp response was also completely different. Not only did it not reflexively criticize the Green camp, Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou expressed an unusually strong objection to the US statement. He even took a stand supporting "anything that would help Taiwan, that respected Taiwan's dignity, that would help Taiwan join the United Nations." In other words, Washington criticized President Chen more harshly, while the Blue camp criticized Chen less harshly. The change was subtle but worth noting.

US China relations, cross-Straits relations, as well electoral politics on Taiwan have always been links in a chain. Any movement in one link will affect the other links. The least stable link in this chain is electoral politics on Taiwan. For the past few years, the Green camp has turned every election into a reunification vs. independence war of attrition, by manipulating cross-Straits relations. Its strategic purpose is twofold. First it wants to provoke Beijing. Second, it wants to lure the Blue camp onto the battlefield. In the end, as long as the Green camp could mollify Washington, everything would return to normal. As soon as Beijing resorted to intimidation, it became the Green camp's most useful campaign aide. As soon as the Blue camp dissented, it was immediately vilified as "not loving Taiwan." What about the US? At most it would issue a strong statement. Perhaps the next time Chen engaged in "transit diplomacy" it would treat Chen a little less courteously. No matter how strong the statement from the US, it would always be acceptable for the Green camp. After several rounds of this, the Green camp not only reaped obvious rewards at the polls, it learned to play the game more and more skillfully.

The Green camp can manipulate the sensitive issue of reunification vs. independence, even as it categorically denies it is violating the "Five Noes." The result is the three way relationship between Taipei, Washington, and Beijing becomes even more firmly entrenched. The Green camp however is compensated at election time. This biggest loser is surely the Blue camp. Over the past several years, every time the Green camp makes a move, the US calls foul, and the Blue camp follows up with its criticisms. The US usually makes some loud noises, then lets the matter drop. The Blue camp meanwhile, gets unfairly depicted as helping outsiders attack Taiwan. The result is that every time the Green camp stirs up trouble between Taipei and Washington, the Blue camp gets all the blame. It is almost as if the US and the ruling DPP were working in unision. The Blue camp always winds up being the fall guy. Should the Blue camp allow itself to remain a willing pawn in this game?

The Green camp plebiscite to "join the UN under the name of Taiwan" is like an arrow that has already been nocked, and is going to be released. The US reaction has been unusually intense. If the Green camp can get past this hurdle, then the "Five Noes" are as good as dead. Therefore Washington cannot possibly make any further concessions. But what else can the US do except extend ruling DPP officials fewer diplomatic courtesies? After all, can the Green camp take back what it said at this point? The Blue camp is also playing the plebiscite game this year. If the Green camp retreats on the UN plebiscite, its political momentum will be halved. But if it refuses to retreat, how long can it hold out?

In the past, the Blue camp played a peculiar role in this kind of deadlock. It provided both the Green camp and the US room in which they could exert their own leverage. This time the Blue camp has obviously gotten wise. It has chosen to stand in opposition to the US. At the same time, it has maintained its distance from the Green camp. To put it plainly, it is basically staying out of the matter. This change on the part of the Blue camp has changed the overall equation. What will Washington and the Green camp do, now that they have lost their Blue camp pawn? Whatever they do, it will be interesting to see.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.06.21

美 國又對陳總統吹哨了!在陳水扁明示要推動「以台灣名義加入聯合國」之公投後,美國華府的反應來得奇快,才十幾個小時不到,國務院就明示「反對」,而且罕見 的公開要求陳總統放棄此議。誰都知道此議題「玩公投」是假,「綁大選」是真,但在距離大選還有相當時日的情況下,這個議題現在就發酵,後續會有什麼效應, 真的很值得觀察!

最近幾年,在台美中三邊的動態關係上,已隱然形成一種模式:一方面,三邊的地緣政治結構關係變化並不大,華府所界定的 「中共不武、台灣不獨」的現狀,短期間內不會有太大變化;真正會引發區域出現波瀾的,主要是台海的任一方企圖藉由修辭的試探,對這種現狀予以重新界定。過 去幾年,慣常的模式都是台灣先出招,北京暗中施壓,最後則是由華府吹哨喊停。華府所操作的主要槓桿,就是扁對「四不一沒有」的承諾,而陳水扁過去幾年也一 直藉由政治修辭的試探,測試這個底線,從制憲公投、終統論到這次的「以台灣名義加入聯合國」公投,無一不是在尋求顛覆「四不一沒有」的底線。

而 明眼人大概都看得出來,這次的情況稍稍與以往有些不同,第一,華府的反應比以往都來得更快,語言表述得也更清晰,不僅不再複誦「四不一沒有」,而是明白表 示「反對」,而且公開要求扁「放棄」他的倡議;第二,藍營的反應也與以往完全不同,不僅不再制式的批判綠營,國民黨的總統候選人馬英九反常的對美國的聲明 表達強烈的不以為然,甚至還表態支持「任何對台灣有幫助,符合台灣尊嚴的名義加入聯合國」的主張。換言之,這回面對陳總統的出招,華府批判的力道加重了, 藍營批判的力道反倒減輕了,這個細微的變化很微妙,也相當值得觀察。

要知道,美中的雙邊關係,兩岸的互動關係,以及台灣內部的選舉政治之 間,一直是呈現環環相扣的連動關係,任何一個環結的波動,都會牽動另外兩個環結的連動。這中間最不穩定的就是台灣選舉政治這個環結。過去幾年,綠營藉由激 化兩岸關係的操作,將每一場選舉都打成是一場統獨消耗戰,這種議題操作模式以激怒北京為首要戰略目標,誘使藍營加入戰場為次要目標,最後只要降低華府關切 的幅度即可。結果只要北京一恫嚇,就成了綠營最佳助選員,藍營一唱和,馬上就被扣上「不愛台灣」的帽子,美國呢?了不起發布個強硬聲明,或是讓扁下回「過 境外交」的禮遇等級降低就得了,再強硬也都在綠營的「可容忍範圍內」,玩個幾回下來,綠營不僅在選票上獲得顯著收割,也玩得越來越純熟。

也 可以說,綠營可以靈活的動統獨邊緣的敏感神經,卻又聲稱絕不違背四不,結果縱然台美中的三角結構關係可能被鎖得更緊,但綠營卻可在選舉的動員上獲得報償。 這中間最大的輸家當然就是藍營,過去幾年,每回綠營出招,美國吹哨的時候,藍營都會跟進批判,結果美國通常大聲嚷嚷幾聲也就算了,藍營卻常被框架成是在幫 著外人打台灣,這個罪名誰擔得起?結果每回是綠營釀成美台關係生變,卻都是讓藍營最後吃悶虧,彷彿是美台在合演一齣雙簧,藍營卻總是在充當現成的二百五, 試問藍營為什麼要自陷為棋子?

所以,微妙的地方就在這裡,綠營推動「以台灣名義加入聯合國」的公投已經如箭在弦,不得不發了,美國的反應 則是異乎尋常的強烈,畢竟這關若是讓綠營衝過了,「四不一沒有」的承諾就等於是全線潰堤了,所以華府不可能再退讓,但美國除了外交禮遇上略施薄懲之外,還 能有什麼其他的能耐?更何況此刻的綠營還能再言退嗎?要知道藍營今年也在玩公投綁大選,綠營若是在加入聯合國這個議題上率先退卻,氣勢等於就被削去了一 半,但若是堅持不退,又能挺多久呢?

在以往,藍營可以在這種僵局中扮演某種微妙槓桿的角色,讓綠營與美方都有使力的空間,但藍營這回顯然 是學乖了,它選擇與美方站在對立面,同時依舊與綠營維持著區隔,講白了就是根本「置身事外」,這種「轉向」讓以往的既定模式都出現了變化,美國華府與綠營 這場直接的對峙,在失掉藍營這個棋子之後,接下來要怎麼收場,真的會很有意思!

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