Thursday, September 27, 2007

How many More Times do We need to Play these Word Games?

How many More Times do We need to Play these Word Games?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
September 27, 2007

President Chen Shui-bian has modified the wording of the Democratic Progressive Party's "Resolution for a Normal Nation." On September 30, the DPP National Congress will retain Chen's version of the resolution. It will not replace it with Yu's version. In remarkably short order, the DPP has resolved its tempest in a teapot. It now has an officially sanctioned version it can present to the US, to Taiwan independence organizations, and to indicted Chairman Yu Hsi-kuen, who has been forced to resign over the Discretionary Fund case. The DPP may be committed to Taiwan independence, and it may be determined to engage in reckless brinksmanship. But how many such games must it play before it becomes a responsible ruling party?

This is reminiscent of how Chen Shui-bian got rid of the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. Chen replaced the language of the resolution with radical Taiwan independence rhetoric. The new wording asserted that Taiwan was already a sovereign and independent country. It asserted that any changes required a plebiscite by the entire population of the country. This time is no different. Internal and external factors, as well as election considerations, have forced pro-independence factions to tone down Yu's version of the Resolution for a Normal Nation. The toned down version remains within the bounds established by the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. It remains within the bounds established by the DPP's document "The Founding of a Republic of Taiwan." Yu Hsi-kuen acquiesced with a smile. His response reflected the Democratic Progressive Party's recognition of reality.

The new version "acknowledges that the name Republic of China is difficult to use in international society." It does not deny that the name of the nation is the Republic of China. It advocates joining international organizations under the name of Taiwan. It advocates "swiftly completing the rectification of names, the authoring of a new new constitution, the holding of a plebiscite, demonstrating that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation." It quietly avoids such sensitive topics such as "the rectification of the name of the nation to Taiwan." In the new version, the "rectification of names" is not directly linked to the "change in the name of the nation." Plebiscites are not directly linked to Taiwan independence. Chen Shui-bian is playing word games. He is allowing Taiwan independence zealots to imagine they had gotten what they demanded. But what they got was imaginary.

Are such imaginary victories enough for pro-independence elements? In 1999, the DPP's "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" softened the rhetoric of its "Taiwan Independence Party Constitution." This allowed the DPP to win the 2000 Presidential Election. This allowed a party that repudiates the existence of the Republic of China to become the ruling party of the Republic of China, under the ageis of the Constitution of the Republic of China. Like it or not, DPP party members cannot deny that they once were, or still are, officials of the Republic of China.

The problem is the DPP is acutely aware of the impact of such variables on electoral success and failure, including changes to their Taiwan independence Party Constitution. What the DPP has never been able to come to grips with is that it is already the ruling party, that it is in charge of the nation, that it has been in power for over seven years. The DPP constantly waffles. It denies the legitimacy of the nation for which it has already officially assumed responsibility. The legitimacy of the Republic of China is treated as a punching bag. Every so often the DPP must give it a punch, usually when an election rolls around. Taiwan, as fate would have it, has no shortage of elections. This idiosyncracy means the ruling DPP government will remain forever subject to political interference.

Following regime change, the DPP, motivated by its anti-nuclear ideology, halted construction on the Number Four Nuclear Plant. This decision, unrelated to the issue of reunification vs. independence, resulted in the DPP getting off to a shaky start. This state of affairs persisted for several years. It was followed by endless "rectification of names" controversies, "authoring of a new constitution" controversies, "changing the name of the nation" controversies. Every controversy shook the market. Domestically, economic development was held hostage. Internationally, diplomatic relations became progressively more difficult. Forget Taipei/Washington relations. Even normal diplomatic relations became increasingly arduous.

Viewed positively, Chen's version of the Resolution for a Normal Nation finally acknowledges the international pressure. Chen mobilized pro-independence organizations to march in favor of the "rectification of names." But he pragmatically limited it to domestic consumption. Take the DPP's campaign theme for 2008 for example. Its "Plebiscite to Join the UN under the Name Taiwan" does not involve authoring a new constitution or changing the name of the nation.

Let's not worry about whether such concessions will mollify the US. The question is, will they mollify voters who have already endured over seven years of ideologically motivated DPP misrule? The DPP was founded 21 years ago. It has been in office for over seven years. How many more years will it be before it realizes enough is enough? Confronted with a crisis, the DPP gladly accepted Chen's version of the Resolution for a Normal Nation. This temporarily relieved the election crisis for DPP presidential and vice presidential candidates Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang. But what about after the election? Hsieh and Su are different from Chen. They announced their candidacy after Chen was already in power for over than seven years. They face more serious problems than Chen. If Hsieh and Su are elected, will Taiwan have to endure eight more years of endless amendments to the constitution; of endless threats to author a new constitution, rectify names, and change the name of the nation; of endless controversy and agitation?

Yu's version of the Resolution for a Normal Nation was a "UXB," an unexploded bomb. That Chen and Hsieh joined hands to defeat it is no doubt cause for rejoicing. But how many more UXBs remain? A responsible ruling party, a responsible leader, a political leader preparing to compete for the nation's highest office, really ought to consider the well-being the people. They really shouldn't be wasting time and energy playing meaningless but dangerous word games.

Courtesy the China Times.

中國時報  2007.09.27










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