Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Chiang/Chen Meeting: The Meaning of the October 25 Protest

The Chiang/Chen Meeting: The Meaning of the October 25 Protest
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 28, 2008

On June 13 Chiang Ping-kuen and Chen Yunlin met in Beijing. They announced the commencement of weekend charter flights, with mainland tourists arriving on Taiwan. The Ma administration said its goal was three thousand visitors a day. Due to excessive restrictions, that goal has not been reached.

Even without such restrictions, they might not have been able to achieve three thousand visitors a day. But at least they would have experienced a significant surge in visitors, and the public on Taiwan might have gotten a taste of the possibilities of the administration's new policy. But mainland tourism to Taiwan has not had the anticipated effect, perhaps because Beijing was busy with the Olympics. The Ma administration's first shot misfired. Soon afterwards the political and economic situation rapidly deteriorated. Disappointment gradually changed the public's estimate of cross-Strait exchanges, and progress eventually came to a standstill.

Following the March 22 Presidential Election, Vice President-elect Vincent Siew seized the opportunity to participate in the Boao Forum on Hainan Island. This was followed by Lien Chan, Wu Po-hsiung, and Chiang Pin-kung visiting the mainland in rapid succession. The two sides announced the commencement of cross-Strait weekend charter flights and the arrival of mainland tourists on Taiwan. It was also agreed that the second Chiang/Chen Meeting would be held in Taipei in autumn. The Ma administration built up a considerable head of steam. No one imagined that Chen Yunlin would be greeted by cheering crowds tens of thousands strong. But neither did anyone expect it to become the hot potato it is today.

We have repeatedly stressed that Taiwan is a democracy. Cross-Strait policy must undergo the test of its democratic institutions. The two sides have arranged for a second Chiang/Chen Meeting. Cross-Strait policy entails peaceful negotiations. Nevertheless the Democratic Progressive Party objects to the Chiang/Chen Meeting. Tsai Ing-wen hopes Chen Yunlin will stay away. Wang Ting-yu shoved Zhang Mingqing to the ground. Chen Shui-bian is hoping to increase conflict. Maybe this constitutes another sort of cross-Strait policy. These two cross-Strait policies involve different kinds of thinking and different kinds of behavior. But they both must pass the test of Taiwan's democratic institutions. Only then will they represent public opinion and receive public support.

The demands set forth by the October 25 protest march have provided authorities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait insights into the public mood on Taiwan. The Chiang/Chen Meeting will establish exchange mechanisms. These include the expansion of weekend charter flights, chartered cargo flights, shorter, more direct flight paths, direct shipping, postal cooperation, and food safety measures. Yet the protestors made no mention of these important developments, because the Democratic Progressive Party can't make political hay from them. The public on Taiwan does not object to such provisions in the public interest. Instead the protestors stressed "national dignity," denounced "Regional Governor Ma," and wondered whether Chen Yunlin would address Ma as "President." They demanded "One Country on Each Side" and a "Nation of Taiwan." In fact, if one leaves Taiwan independence movement demands for a "Nation of Taiwan," a majority of the public shares their demand for "national dignity." Beijing has never responded appropriately to demands for "dignity." As a result, Taiwan independence still has a market.

The October 25 protest march has a message for the Chiang/Chen Meeting. One. Win/win cross-Strait policies must make win over peoples' hearts, and not just their minds. For example, mainland tourists arriving on Taiwan failed because there was plenty of thunder but very little rain. Two. Issues concerning Taiwan's "dignity" are of particular importance. Having witnessed the October 25 protest march, the Beijing authorities have a clearer sense of how obdurate Taiwan independence can be. How can one reunify such a Taiwan? How can one conduct cross-Strait relations without first maintaining the Republic of China's dignity?

Immediately after the assault against Zhang Mingqing, Beijing said the incident "would not affect cross-Strait relations," and "would not affect Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan." Such self-restraint deserves affirmation. Most remarkable of all was Zhang's response. "It was merely the extreme behavior of a very small number of people. It hardly represents the people of Tainan. Still less does it represent 23,000,000 people on Taiwan. " Zhang's mention of a majority vs. a minority involved other considerations. But it also showed respect for mainstream opinion on Taiwan. In this sense, the upcoming Chiang/Chen Meeting represents the future of cross-Strait negotiations. Beijing should not regard this as exclusively a dialogue between authorities, but as a dialogue with the public on Taiwan, even a dialogue with Taiwan's democratic institutions.

The Democratic Progressive Party has announced yet another protest march. It will hold an overnight vigil. It may even "shadow" Chen Yunlin. Antics such as these will embarrass both the host and the guest. But a few days of embarrassment are tolerable. This is a time to rethink the future. How can we create a win/win scenario? How should we respond to demands for "dignity" and to the majority preference for "neither unification nor independence?" Will the Chiang/Chen Meeting enable the public to accept the direction cross-Strait relations are taking?

Street protests in Taipei during the Chiang/Chen Meeting are a matter of appearances. The real historical judgement will be rendered by the majority on Taiwan. Authorities on both sides have made a concerted effort with the Chiang/Chen Meeting in Taipei. Yet their ability to touch the hearts of the public on Taiwan pales next to the internally divided Democratic Progressive Party. Why has it come to this? And what more can one say?

2008.10.28 05:25 am


倘 若當時就能打鐵趁熱,雖不能每日三千人,但也使來台陸客湧現,或許即可讓台灣民眾明確感受開放交流的能量;然而,也許北京當時忙著京奧,陸客來台的政策力 度迄未顯現。既然未能一炮打響,後來隨著政經大環境的急劇變化,兩岸議題在台灣民間的評價也因期待落空而漸漸變調,甚至急轉直下。

三二二 總統大選後,副總統當選人蕭萬長借題發揮赴海南島參加博鰲論壇,接著連戰、吳伯雄、江丙坤相繼登陸,兩岸宣布周末包機及陸客來台,又議定第二次「江陳會」 在「秋高氣爽」的時節於台北舉行,確實頗有一氣呵成的氣勢;當時,兩岸當局對陳雲林訪台,雖不至於想像出現萬民迎迓的場景,但一定未曾料到竟會出現今日這 等棘手的局面。

我們屢次強調,台灣是一民主社會,兩岸政策必須通過民主體制的檢驗。兩岸當局安排第二次「江陳會」,主張和平協商,這當然 是兩岸政策的表現;而民進黨反對「江陳會」,蔡英文希望陳雲林不要來,王定宇撂倒張銘清,與陳水扁挑唆升高衝突,這也是另一種兩岸政策的表現。這兩種不同 的兩岸政策體系,有其不同的思維及行為表現,皆將面對台灣民主體制的檢驗,亦可謂在相互爭取台灣民意的認同與支持。

一○二五大遊行的訴求 架構,可供兩岸當局觀察分析台灣民意。「江陳會」的主要議題是建立交流機制,如擴大周末包機、貨運包機、截彎取直、海運直航、郵政合作及食品管理等,但大 遊行對這些重大議題幾乎未發一語;這是因為民進黨對這類「利益議題」沒有反對的著力點,而台灣社會亦無反對這類「利益議題」的「可操作民意」。相對而言, 大遊行較有發揮的仍是國家定位之類的「尊嚴議題」;如「馬區長」、「陳雲林如何稱呼馬總統」、「一邊一國」、「台灣國」等。這類「尊嚴議題」,如果析離出 「台灣國」的台獨論述暫且不論,其實亦是多數台灣人的共同關切;反過來說,亦正因台灣的「尊嚴議題」始終未獲對岸合理回應,所以台獨迄今仍有政治市場。

一 ○二五大遊行帶給江陳會的訊息是:一、兩岸雙贏的「利益議題」必須能使民間有切身感受,如文首所論陸客來台的雷大雨小誠是敗筆。二、台灣定位的「尊嚴議 題」尤其重要,北京當局對一○二五遊行所顯露的台獨因素之頑強應有深刻印象;這樣的台灣如何「統一」?而若不能維持「中華民國」的基本尊嚴,兩岸關係又如 何維持得下去?

北京方面在張銘清事件發生後的第一時間,即定調為「不影響兩岸關係」,「不影響陳雲林訪台」;此種隱忍自制的表現應予肯 定。最令人注目的是張銘清的說辭,他說:「那只是極少數人的極端行為,不能代表所有的台南鄉親,更不代表兩千三百萬的台灣民眾。」張銘清的「多數/少數」 論述有其四面八方的考慮,但也表達了願意訴諸台灣的多數民意。在此一觀念下,此次江陳會及未來所有的兩岸交涉,北京方面應當皆不只視為兩岸當局的對話,而 亦應視為與台灣民意的對話,亦即與台灣民主機制的對話。

面對陳雲林來訪,民進黨已宣布將要遊行、守夜甚至「如影隨形」;這或許是兩岸當局 賓主皆覺尷尬難堪的場面。但是,幾天的難堪尷尬畢竟終可熬過,卻應在這個痛苦時段重新思考兩岸將來何去何從?「利益議題」如何創造雙贏?「尊嚴議題」如何 回應台灣多數「不統/不獨」的民意?總之,「江陳會」如何令台灣人民相信,兩岸互動循此下去,「大方向是正確的」? 


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