Thursday, March 6, 2008

Populist Limericks for a Nation with Closed Doors

Populist Limericks for a Nation with Closed Doors
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
March 6, 2008

The Hsieh camp recently began using "sun kou liu" (traditional Chinese style limericks) in its campaign commercials. These limericks mocked the Ma/Hsiao camp's cross-strait economic and trade policies. Viewed objectively, as policy, these limericks reveal that the Hsieh camp remains mired in a demagogic, anti-intellectual, Closed Door mindset. It is opposed, almost across the board, to any contacts with the Chinese mainland. This Closed Door policy will never provide people on Taiwan with Hsieh's "Economy of Affluence." Take the Hsieh camp's opposition to a cross-strait Common Market for example, The Hsieh camp is opposed to mainland real estate investments on Taiwan, and to the recogniation of mainland Chinese academic credentials. What's the difference between the Hsieh camp's Closed Door policy and the "Be Patient, Avoid Haste" policy and "Effective Management" policy of his predecessors? None whatsoever.

For starters, let's talk about the cross-strait Common Market. The Hsieh camp says that promoting a cross-strait Common Market will lead to "Taiwan men unable to find jobs, Taiwan women unable to find husbands, and Taiwan children shipped off to Heilongjiang [as child labor]." In other words, Taiwan must not open its doors. Taiwan lacks competitiveness. Once it opens up -- game over. The Hsieh camp isn't seriously debating the merits and demerits of implementing a Common Market. That's why it spins the cross-strait Common Market as a "One-China Common Market." That's why they are attempting to give it a "pro-unification" spin. By the time pro-Hsieh pirate radio stations get through brainwashing their listeners with these simplistic limericks, forget any expectation of rational debate.

But is this Closed Door logic tenable? Does promoting a Common Market really mean hundreds of millions of low paid mainland workers will immediately descend upon Taiwan? Of course not. The most prominent example of a Common Market in the world today is the European Union. The European Common Market ideal is free movement of all production factors, including labour, across national boundaries. But these ideals are conditional, and subject to gradual, step by step implementation. During its first decade of the European Common Market's existence, even the advanced industrial countries of Western Europe did not permit workers to move freely across political borders or work anywhere they wished. The lifting of restrictions on workers must be negotiated by the affected countries. But Hsieh camp and Green camp pundits refuse to face reality. They use fear-mongering limericks to fend off rational debate, What kind of sleazy election campaign can one expect from the DPP under these circumstances?

Let's look at the matter from another perspective. The earliest members of the European Union were the advanced industrial countries of Western Europe. Following the the ideological collapse of communism and the attendant physical collapse of the Berlin Wall, these Western European countries gradually added economically backward Eastern European countries. Broadly speaking, the Chinese mainland is comparable to Eastern Europe, while Taiwan is comparable to Western Europe. Western Europeans are not worried about Eastern Europeans stealing their rice bowls. Not worried about the influx of cheap, low quality Eastern Europe goods. Not worried that they won't be able to find a job. Not worried about Eastern Europe speculation in Western Europe real estate. Western Europeans clearly welcomed the opening and expansion of the Common Market. What, then, is the DPP's rationale for its across the board blockade?

It is essentially the same Closed Door rationale that the DPP, the Chen Shui-bian government, and the Hsieh camp invoke when they refuse to recognize mainland Chinese academic credentials. They claim that recognizing mainland credentials means that mainland workers will apply for professional certification on Taiwan, pushing Taiwan workers out of the job market. But this is obviously populist demagoguery. As mentioned earlier, large numbers of people from the mainland have received professional certification on Taiwan. But receiving professional certification on Taiwan, and being permitted to practice on Taiwan, are two different things. As long as the two sides have not signed an employment agreement, a mainland worker's credentials have nothing to do with the job market on Taiwan. The Hsieh camp's tap dancing around this issue is merely an excuse to avoid any and all contact with the Chinese mainland. The Hsieh camp wants to level McCarthyite smears against its opponent and incite public hysteria. This is what the media and the public cannot abide.

In fact, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Closed Door policies have already inflicted endless pain on Taiwan. Over the past eight years, India and mainland China have not stopped growing merely because Taiwan imposed a lock down on the island. On the contrary. It is Taiwan that has lost out on the opportunity to hitch its wagon to a rising star. It is Taiwan that has fallen behind Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. On the one hand, the DPP government has desperately imposed a Closed Door Policy, locking the island down, blocking Taiwan's participation in the competitive global market. On the other hand, it has poured 50 billion dollars into its five-year higher education budget, in the expectation that Taiwan may then be able to boast that it has a "world-class" university. Isn't that self-contradictory? Over the past eight years Taiwan's economic vitality has been drained away. Our university salaries lag far behind those in other Asian regions and nations. Figures show that salaries for university teachers in Singapore and Hong Kong are several times higher than in Taiwan. Salaries at Beijing University and National Tsing Hua University are higher, and even some inland universities are outbidding Taiwan in their quest for talent. We worry that in the near future, not only will ordinary workers on Taiwan be unable to compete with others, even high-tech academic and research personnel will be unable to compete. When that happens, even if PhDs from Taiwan seek employment at Heilongjiang University, they won't necessarily enjoy an advantage.

Taiwan has been locked down for nearly eight years. During this eight years it has paid a heavy price. The Hsieh camp believes that simplistic campaign slogans will fool at least some of the people, some of the time, But aren't presidential candidates who dwell on green cards and Heilongjiang, fooling only themselves?

中國時報  2008.03.06

  最近,謝陣營用了不少順口溜的競選策略,來批馬蕭陣營的兩岸經貿政策,就政策政見而言,很可惜還是擺脫不了反智、愚民式的操作「鎖國」思惟,可說幾乎是全 面反對與中國大陸的接觸。這樣的封閉政策要如何將台灣人民帶向「幸福經濟」,真的令人存疑。就拿謝陣營反對兩岸共同市場、反對陸資來台買房屋、反對承認大 陸學歷這三件事來看,就可以看出謝陣營所呈現的鎖國思惟與先前的「戒急用忍」與「有效管理」,完全沒有差別。

 先來談兩岸共同市場。謝陣 營認為,推動兩岸共同市場就會使台灣「查埔找嘸工、查某找嘸尪,囝仔要去黑龍江」。言下之意,就是要台灣不要開放、就是認為台灣沒有競爭力;一旦開放就會 完蛋。當然,謝陣營也不是真的要討論共同市場的內涵與進程,所以他們將兩岸共同市場先改名為「一中共同市場」,扣上「統派」麻布袋,再以順口溜吆喝地下電 台聽眾一陣亂棒,其餘的理性思辨則全然不必談了。

 但是這鎖國邏輯說得通嗎?推動共同市場就一定得立刻面臨數億中國廉價勞工兵臨城下嗎? 其實不然。全世界推動共同市場的著例當然是歐盟。歐洲共同市場雖然是以生產要素(包括勞工)的跨國境自由移動為理想,但這些都是有條件、有進程的。在歐洲 共同市場推動的起初十幾年裡,即使是工業先進的西歐諸國之間,都不容許人員自由移動,遑論自由就業。人員就業設限的解除,當然要各國之間協商同意後才會開 放。但是,謝陣營及綠軍「名嘴」卻完全不理會實情,就以恐懼的順口溜戰術拒絕進一步的理性討論,這算是哪一門子的扯爛選舉?

 換一個角度 來看,歐盟最早的成員是西歐先進工業國,而在柏林圍牆倒塌、共產主義垮台後,則逐年加進經濟落後的東歐諸國。大致而言,中國大陸與台灣相比,就如同是東歐 與西歐相比。如果西歐人民不擔心東歐人搶他們飯碗、不擔心東歐的低等商品流入、不擔心「查某找嘸尪」、不擔心東歐人去西歐炒作房地產,可見西歐人歡迎開 放、迎接共同市場的擴大。那麼民進黨這樣全面防堵、全面抹黑共同市場,究竟有什麼依據呢?

 幾乎是同樣的鎖國邏輯,民進黨、扁政府與謝陣 營一向也反對大陸學歷認證。而其反對的原因,則是承認對岸學歷後,其人民就會來台灣考證照,壓擠到台灣人民的就業。但這顯然又是愚民式的鎖國思惟。如前所 述,即便開放學歷後有大批對岸人民跑到台灣考專業證照,但考上證照卻與能否在台就業、執業是兩回事。只要兩岸人民就業協定尚未簽訂,學歷認證就根本與雙方 的就業市場扯不上干係。謝陣營左繞右繞就是要迴避與中共的任何接觸,分明是鎖國自閉,卻總是要以抹紅對手、激起民眾恐懼為手段,這就是令媒體與閱聽人反感 的地方。

 其實,民進黨執政八年來的鎖國政策,已經讓台灣吃足苦頭。在過去八年之間,中國大陸與印度並沒有因為台灣的鎖國而停止成長,反 而是台灣自己喪失了搭順風車的機會,競爭力明顯地落後於新、港、韓等國家。民進黨政府一方面拚命鎖國,阻絕台灣加入國際競爭的行列,另一方面卻又以五年五 百億的高教預算,奢望台灣能有「世界一流」的大學,這不是自我矛盾是什麼?八年下來,當台灣經濟實力在鎖國政策下日漸下滑之際,我們的大學薪給已經遠遠落 後亞洲諸國。數據顯示,新加坡、香港的大學教師薪水都是數倍於台灣,對岸不但北大、清大待遇優渥,甚至連一些內陸大學搶人才的手筆都勝過台灣。我們擔心在 不久的將來,不僅台灣一般工人的競爭力不如他國,恐怕連我們原本領先的高科技、學術研究人才都會快速流失。到那個時候,就算台灣的博士要去黑龍江大學找工 作,恐怕也未必有優勢了。


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