Will Chen Yunlin Respond to Mainstream Public Opinion on Taiwan?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 8, 2008
Summary: Will Chen Yunlin come to Taiwan as expected? Apparently it depends upon the Democratic Progressive Party. Some think if the Democratic Progressive Party launches violent protests, the Ma administration and the Hu administration in Beijing will back down in fear. The possibility of demonstrations should not be ignored. But if one is a slave to such concerns, then breakthroughs in cross-Strait relations will be impossible. If Chen Yunlin postpones his visit until next year because the Democratic Progressive Party threatens to protest, what will he do next year? The Republic of China is a democracy. For elements within society to be critical of the current administration's cross-Strait policy is perfectly normal. No matter when Chen Yunlin arrives, someone is going to protest. The only difference is certain moments may be more sensitive than others.
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Will Chen Yunlin come to Taiwan as expected? Apparently it depends upon the Democratic Progressive Party. Some think if the Democratic Progressive Party launches violent protests, the Ma administration and the Hu administration in Beijing will back down in fear.
The possibility of demonstrations should not be ignored. But if one is a slave to such concerns, then breakthroughs in cross-Strait relations will be impossible. If Chen Yunlin postpones his visit until next year because the Democratic Progressive Party threatens to protest, what will he do next year? The Republic of China is a democracy. For elements within society to be critical of the current administration's cross-Strait policy is perfectly normal. No matter when Chen Yunlin arrives, someone is going to protest. The only difference is certain moments may be more sensitive than others.
This is precisely what cross-Strait interaction must transcend. The Beijing authorities have long regarded the Taiwan authorities as their primary objective. On the one hand they have taken advantage of partisan struggles on Taiwan. On the other hand they have become victims of these same partisan struggles on Taiwan. Actually, under the Republic of China's democracy, it is never certain which political party will win or lose, rise or fall. Therefore the Beijing authorities should respond not only to political parties, but also to public opinion. If Chen Yunlin's visit helps cross-Strait relations reflect mainstream public opinion, then Democratic Progressive Party and Green Camp protests need not be a cause for concern.
We have repeatedly stressed that the Beijing authorities must acknowledge the Republic of China's democratic institutions. The Democratic Progressive Party has been in power for eight years. Its Taiwan independence path has ended in complete failure, because it was rejected by the public on Taiwan. The Ma administration's cross-Strait policy has been better received. But its "diplomatic truce," its "non state-to-state relations," and other policies have raised eyebrows, even in the Blue camp. Such is mainstream public opinion. The Beijing authorities must find a way to base their cross-Strait policy on mainstream public opinion on Taiwan. Only then can they liberate themselves from the need to respond to partisan struggles on Taiwan. Only then can they establish a stable framework for cross-Strait interaction. Is Chen Yunlin ready to begin a dialogue with the public on Taiwan?
When considering cross-Strait relations, the public on Taiwan has two major concerns. One. Dignity. Two. Self interest. The public on Taiwan looks forward to a cross-Strait framework that treats them with dignity and protects their self interests. The Chen Shui-bian administration was not up to the task. The Ma Ying-jeou administration may not be either. Chen Shui-bian's "Nation of Taiwan path" was a dead end. Ma Ying-jeou's "Republic of China path" may or may not be. The problem is the Beijing authorities have been unable to break out of the existing framework. Will Chen Yunlin be able to break out of the existing framework? That remains to be seen.
Will Chen Yunlin's visit be seen as a willingness to defer to mainstream public opinion on Taiwan? Can Chen Yunlin win over the public on Taiwan? If Chen Yunlin is able to win over the public on Taiwan, he just might break through the partisan deadlock on Taiwan. Why hesitate? Why stop?
As yesterday's editorial in the United Daily News noted, Chen Yunlin's visit is also a hot potato for the DPP. The Democratic Progressive Party must deal with an internal struggle over "supporting Taiwan independence" and "supporting A Bian." It must defer to mainstream public opinion. Regardless of whether the DPP or Chen Shui-bian wins the battle for hearts and minds on Taiwan, Chen Yunlin's visit will have an historic impact on cross-Strait relations.
Chen Yunlin's visit is important. The resolution of direct maritime transportation links and other urgent problems can no longer be delayed. If Chen Yunlin's visit is postponed, their resolution may be affected by unexpected developments in the Chen Shui-bian corruption trial. If Chen Yunlin's visit is postponed even one year, precious momentum may be lost. Whether the Green Camp, Chen Shui-bian, and the Democratic Progressive Party protest, and whether elements on Taiwan object to Chen Yunlin's visit, must be seen in context. The acid test will be mainstream public opinion. The only reason to postpone Chen Yunlin's visit should be problems with protocol.
The issues addressed should not be limited to pandas, direct flights, and other familiar problems. Instead we should adopt a broader historical perspective. We may as well raise the issue of international breathing room. Will Chen Yunlin's visit allow the public on Taiwan to experience a cross-Strait exchange that treats them with dignity and protects their self interest? If it does, then we can establish a cross-Strait framework that transcends Blue vs. Green partisanship. If it does, Chen Yunlin's visit will be both a crisis and an opportunity.
Lien Chan, Wu Po-hsiung, Chiang Pin-kung have all visited the mainland. The atmosphere during their visits was amicable and harmonious. But Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan is sure to provoke controversy, demonstrations, and protests. This is where the two sides differ. This is why we must repeat, the Beijing authorities must respond to the Republic of China's democracy.
The Taiwan region is in a state of flux. The only constant is its democracy. Therefore, cross-Strait relations must be founded on mainstream public opinion as manifested in democratic institutions.
2008.10.08 02:01 am
這正是兩岸互動必須超越及突破之處。北京當局一向視台灣的政府或政黨為主要互動對象，於是一方面利用台灣的黨爭，另一方面亦陷溺於台灣的黨爭。其實，在台 灣的民主體制中，政黨的勝敗、消長及輪替，本是一個不定的變數；所以，北京當局除了因應台灣的政黨消長，更當回應台灣的主流民意。即以陳雲林來訪言，倘若 能將兩岸關係推向一個明確回應台灣主流民意的高度，那麼民進黨或綠營的示威抗議似也就不足為慮了。
我們曾一再強調：北京當局必須回應台灣的民主體制。民進黨的台獨路線經執政八年的操作而終告失敗，是因被台灣主流民意所否決；馬政府的兩岸政策雖較受肯 定，但在「外交休兵」、「非國與國的特殊關係」等操作技巧上，甚至受到藍營內部的質疑，亦可見到主流民意的身影。北京當局必須設法以台灣的主流民意為準據 來建構兩岸關係，如此始可能跳脫台灣的黨爭，搭建一個可大可久的兩岸互動架構。陳雲林來訪，是否已準備好了與台灣的主流民意對話？
對於兩岸關係，台灣主流民意的主要期待有二：一、尊嚴；二、利益。也就是說，台灣主流民意期待一個不失台灣尊嚴及對台灣有利的兩岸關係。這樣的兩岸關係， 過去扁政府不能實現，現在馬政府其實也未必能達成；也就是說，陳水扁走「台灣國」路線做不到，馬英九走「中華民國路線」也未必做得到；而最後的原因皆卡在 北京當局未能跳出框架。陳雲林來訪，能否有跳出框架的宣示？
陳雲林來訪是否推遲，茲事體大。畢竟，海運直航及截彎取直等既定議題，皆不宜再拖；倘若延遲，可能撞上扁案起訴等變數，是否又再延擱？若竟延至明年，恐怕 所有的味道皆將走味。何況，陳雲林到訪的意義，與綠營陳水扁或民進黨的抗議，及台灣社會的其他批評之聲，只是一個相對的概念；最後皆將面對台灣主流民意的 檢驗。因而，與其考慮推遲與否，何如考慮如何籌辦陳雲林的伴手禮？
因此，我們建議，不必拘限於熊貓、直航等已知項目，而應放開歷史視野，不妨從兩岸關係論述及開放國際空間等領域思考；倘若能藉陳雲林來訪，使台灣主流民意 感受到一個「有尊嚴／有利益」的兩岸互動架構可望進一步體現，則海峽兩岸也許可以藉此共同成就一個超越及突破台灣藍綠黨爭的兩岸大架構。準此以論，陳雲林 來訪，是危機，也是轉機。