Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DPP Infighting: Opening Pandora's Box behind Closed Doors

DPP Infighting: Opening Pandora's Box behind Closed Doors
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 9, 2009

Chen Chu visited the Mainland. Taiwan independence elements bit their tongues. The reason was Taiwan independence elements were weak and in the minority. had they forced an open break, they would merely have exposed their own weaknesses and shortcomings. At this critical moment, they don't even have the courage to bluster. Their silence is deafening.

Chen Chu visited the Mainland. For Democratic Progressive Party pragmatists and reformists, this was tantamount to a gauntlet thrown down to the fundamentalists. Taiwan independence elements are aware the ship is changing course. But they feign ignorance and say nothing. The current struggle between pragmatist/reformists and fundamentalists is different from those in the past. One. Past struggles between the party and Lin Yi-hsiung, Hsu Hsin-liang, or Shih Ming-teh were confined to issues of ideology or style. Tsai Ing-wen on the other hand, allowed Chen Chu to set foot in Beijing and Shanghai. This involved concrete action. Two. During past struggles, Hsu Hsin-liang, Lin Yi-hsiung, and Shih Ming-teh were expelled from the Democratic Progressive Party or withdrew on their own. This time Tsai Ing-wen will not readily admit defeat or withdraw from the party. Of course, Taiwan independence elements will not withdraw from the Democratic Progressive Party either. Therefore the struggle is real. They have locked themselves behind closed doors. They now sit in the dark, waiting to see who can outlast the other.

Therefore viewed from the outside, the Democratic Progressive Party and mainstream society on Taiwan appear to have created a window of opportunity for communication with Beijing. However viewed from the inside, the DPP appears to have opened up a Pandora's Box behind closed doors.

Following its defeat in 2008, the Democratic Progressive Party realized it must rid itself of Ah-Bian influences and Taiwan independence ideology. This is probably Tsai Ing-wen's hope. It is also the only way out for the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen initially hoped to distance the DPP from Ah-Bian and Taiwan independence. She hoped to purge the party of Ah-Bian influences and Taiwan independence ideology. This would have strengthened the party's political appeal. But in a moment of weakness she chose to lie down in the same bed with Ah-Bian and Taiwan independence elements. In the end she was unable to rid the party of either. Chen Chu has now visited the Mainland. Her visit can be interpreted as a reversal in Tsai Ing-wen's strategy. Instead of first ridding the DPP of Ah-Bian influences, then Taiwan independence ideology, she is attempting to first rid the DPP of Taiwan independence ideology, then Ah-Bian influences.

The DPP leadership appears to have accepted Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland and therefore Tsai Ing-wen's major course change. Tsai Ing-wen has not been ostracized the way Hsu Hsin-liang and Shih Ming-teh were in the past. For Taiwan independence elements and Chen Shui-bian however, this amounts to a political death knell. "China eats s**t!" has now become "Chen Chu Breaks Ice!" From henceforth the "Chen Chu Standard" will replace the "Wang Ting-yu Standard." Ah-Bian can no longer protect Taiwan independence elements. Taiwan independence elements can no longer protect Ah-Bian. Are Taiwan independence elements and Chen Shui-bian going to passively await their fates?

Emotionally and logically it is time for the DPP to distance itself from Taiwan independence elements and Ah-Bian, and to undergo a schism. But Taiwan independence elements cannot expel Tsai Ing-wen, and Tsai Ing-wen cannot expel Taiwan independence elements. On the upside, this means the Democratic Progressive Party remains "unified." This is Chen Shui-bian's hope. On the downside, this means the party will suffer internal injuries from serious infighting. It will remain on the verge of an internal schism.

Actually Taiwan independence elements have played a strategic role in cross-Strait relations. They have efficiently and effectively played the role of "bad cop." This has been fully confirmed in recent years. The question is: does the DPP intend to continue playing the role of a Taiwan independence party? One. The DPP commands 40 percent of the vote, virtually 40 percent of the population. It has played the Taiwan independence "bad cop" that tears society apart and undermines cross-Strait relations. Is such a role becoming and consistent with the larger interests of the public on Taiwan? Two. The DPP is the only effective "native" political party to rule in four hundred years. If it is hijacked by Taiwan independence elements, and ends up on the wrong side of history, won't this be a tragic loss for Taiwan and for democracy?

Tsai Ing-wen is now calling for a showdown with Taiwan independence elements. On May 17 Taiwan independence elements staged their own demonstration in Kaohsiung. This was a warning to Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai Ing-wen ended the protest march peacefully on May 17. She paved the way for Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland. This was a clear message to Taiwan independence elements. Tsai Ing-wen's goal of course was to rid the DPP of Taiwan independence ideology and Ah-Bian influences. The goal of Taiwan independence elements conversely, was to bring down the party leadership and expel Tsai Ing-wen. Pandora's Box has been opened. The doors and windows have been closed. Let us now see who can hold their breath the longest. Let us now see whom Lady Luck favors. The Democratic Progressive Party's debate over its "Party Officials Visit to [Mainland] China" stalled last week. The two sides reached an impasse.

From Taiwan's strategic framework, this remains a dilemma. Some people are unwilling to see Taiwan independence ideology drag the Democratic Progressive Party to its death. But others are unwilling to see Taiwan independence vanish as a strategic factor. Taiwan's problems truly are complex.

2009.06.09 03:49 am










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