Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is "Sympathizing with China" synonymous with "Selling Out Taiwan?"

Is "Sympathizing with China" synonymous with "Selling Out Taiwan?"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 19, 2009

The theme of the May 17 protest march was "Oppose Sympathizing with China, Defend Taiwan." Its four demands were "Defend Taiwan. Ensure Sovereignty. Help the Unemployed. Protect the Disadvantaged." Unfortunately the marchers were unaware of the internal contradictions in their own demands.

Their fundamental reasoning is that "Sympathizing with [Mainland] China" means one is incapable of "Defending Taiwan." Supposedly this has two harmful effects. First, sovereignty will be lost. Second, financial hardship will follow.

Why do we say the marchers' demands contain inherent contradictions? First of all, "Sympathizing with China" is not necessarily antithetical to "Defending Taiwan. Protecting Taiwan." If "Sympathizing with China" means establishing a policy of "Cross-Strait Goodwill," of creating a mutually-beneficial, win-win scenario, then "Sympathizing with [Mainland] China" is hardly going to bring disaster down upon Taiwan, and may well bring benefits. Equating "Sympathizing with China" with "selling out Taiwan" is a logical non sequiteur. Opinion polls show that although a majority of respondents believe the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy is indeed "Sympathizing with China," it also feels that such a policy benefits Taiwan. As we can see, "Sympathizing with China" is not necessarily "Selling out Taiwan." In fact, a policy of "Sympathizing with China" can also be rooted in a desire to "Defend Taiwan. Protect Taiwan." It can also be motivated by the real world advantages of "Defending Taiwan. Protecting Taiwan."

Will "Sympathizing with China" lead to a loss in sovereignty? To answer this question, we must first understand the Republic of China's current status regarding its sovereignty. The sovereignty of the Republic of China has been been dealt a series of traumatic blows. For example, it cannot join the United Nations. It must use the name "Chinese Taipei" when participating in certain international events. These are painful to our citizens. The Ma administration's cross-Strait policy cannot fully express our sovereignty. But at least we can use the name "Chinese Taipei" while participating in WHA activities. At least no more nations have broken off diplomatic relations with us. At least we are establishing a framework for cross-Strait exchanges based on the premise of "1992 Consensus. One China, Different Interpretations," in which we refrain from repudiating each others‘ status. These subtle but significant achievements were hard won. But they have unquestionably enhanced our sovereignty. Nor has the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy undermined our sovereignty on Taiwan. The Republic of China flag continues to flutter above the Presidential Palace. Republic of China elections continue to be held, just as they always have been. The Republic of China Legislature continues to be plagued by opposition DPP antics such as locking the doors to the Legislature in protest. Tens of thousands of Mainland tourists come and go beneath the Republic of China flag every day. One could argue that the Republic of China's sovereignty has been significantly improved during this period.

Has "Sympathizing with China" led to economic difficulties? In fact, most people affirm the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy precisely because it contributes to Taiwan's economic development. The deepening of cross-Strait economic exchanges is bound to impact some sectors or businesses. We must respond appropriately. But the overall situation has unquestionably been beneficial to Taiwan. Besides, cross-Strait exchanges are an economic path we cannot refuse to take. On the one hand, the DPP complains of economic hardship. On the other hand, it contradicts itself by blasting any policy it accuses of "Sympathizing with China." Cross-Strait exchanges are essential to Taiwan's economy. On this we have a broad social consensus. This is why most people do not equate "Sympathizing with China" with "Selling out Taiwan." From an economic perspective, "Sympathizing with China" may even be motivated by a desire to "Defend Taiwan."

During the May 17 protest march, Yeh Chin-chuan led a delegation to the WHA. His trip touched on the matter of sovereignty. At the Cross-Strait Forum in Xiamen Wang Yi announced Beijing's "Eight Benefits for Taiwan" program. This, and the "Western Straits Economic Zone" were both the result of "economic exchanges." The Democratic Progressive Party says it champions our sovereignty. How then can it object to participation in the WHA? The DPP says it hopes to revive the economy. How then can it oppose Beijing's "Eight Benefits for Taiwan?"

The Democratic Progressive Party's vigilance regarding the risks of cross-Strait exchanges deserves affirmation. Yet its May 17 protest march was all about Taiwan independence. This is hardly the answer to the Republic of China's sovereignty and economic problems. The DPP sees the May 17 protest march as a case of successful political mobilization. But the protest march merely mired the DPP ever more deeply in Taiwan independence thinking. This poses a hidden danger for the DPP. The Ma administration proposes an amicable Mainland policy that "Sympathizes with China." If it can continue showing that dignity and sovereignty correlate positively with economic development, then the Democratic Progressive Party's strategy of equating "Sympathizing with China" with "Selling out Taiwan" will no longer be viable. How else can one explain Chen Chu's trip to the Mainland?

The May 17 protest march was a major revelation to both Beijing and Taipei. It implied that although the public opposes "Selling out Taiwan," it does not oppose "Sympathizing with China." What constitutes "Sympathizing with China?" What constitutes "Selling out Taiwan?" The Ma administration knows. So does Beijing. So does the public on Taiwan. That is why we advocate "inviting the other side to a dance," but do not advocate "inviting the other side to its own funeral."

2009.05.19 05:55 am









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