Tsai Ing-wen: More Taiwan Independence-minded than Chen Shui-bian?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 31, 2010
Tsai Ing-wen has left many people in shock. Many people assumed Tsai Ing-wen had adopted a more rational perspective on national identity and the status of the Republic of China Constitution in her "Political Platform for the Coming Decade." They assumed she was struggling to transform the DPP. But according to the latest news reports, she has openly asserted that "the Republic of China is a government in exile."
Tsai Ing-wen is Chairman of the DPP. These views are the most irrational views on Taiwan independence that any chairman of the DPP has expressed since the 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future." Tsai Ing-wen is a potential candidate for President of the Republic of China in 2012. These views are the most irrational views on Taiwan independence any presidential candidate has expressed, ever. Such extraordinary comments, issuing from the lips of the ostensibly rational Tsai Ing-wen, could only leave listeners in shocked disbelief.
The "Government in Exile" theory is the most irrational Taiwan independence theory one is likely to encounter in cross-Straits debate. For example: 1. The DPP's "Taiwan Independence Party Constitution" does not repudiate the Republic of China per se. It merely asserts that the political structure of the ROC "leads to an impasse for constitutional reform." Therefore it advocates the authoring of a new constitution and the "founding of a sovereign and independent Republic of Taiwan" via public referendum. 2. The DPP's "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" also recognizes the "constitutionally-defined Republic of China" as a "backdoor listing" strategy, as a means of maintaining a framework by which "all residents of Taiwan can participate in a referendum." 3. The "two states theory" has never maintained that the ROC is a government in exile. 4. The "one country on each side" theory still allows room for the "two states" theory. 5. The "rectification of names" movement calls for the abolition of the Republic of China, but does not repudiate the Republic of China prior to its abolition. 6. The "Taiwan's undetermined status" theory merely asserts that Taiwan "does not necessarily" belong to the Republic of China. 7. The "Resolution for a Normal Nation" advocates the "swift rectification of names." 8. The "foreign government" theory still recognizes the Republic of China as a de facto "authority." 9. The "second republic" is merely an "extension" of the ROC.
As we can see, among the various "hard line Taiwan independence," "soft line Taiwan independence" and "quasi-Taiwan independence" theories, the "government in exile" theory is the most extreme. It asserts that the "Republic of China is on the mainland" and "not on Taiwan." Therefore it is arguably the most irrational form of Taiwan independence. 1. If the Republic of China is actually a government in exile, then the DPP's years of participation in the democratic and constitutional processes of the Republic of China are utterly meaningless. 2. It effectively contradicts the DPP's own calls for a "public referendum," and instead resorts to political rhetoric to repudiate the Republic of China, denying the public the right to its own opinions. 3. Strategically, it inevitably plays into Beijing's "united front" strategy. In their rush to repudiate the Republic of China, its advocates effectively end up as "Communist fellow travelers."
Tsai Ing-wen is both DPP party chairman and a potential ROC presidential candidate. Given her position of responsibility, her "government in exile" stance is even more irrationally independence-minded than those of Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui. The 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" paved the way for Chen Shui-bian's bid for the presidency. The "Five Noes" eased cross-Strait tensions. Chen Shui-bian cozied up to Taiwan independence only after he found himself in hot water over corruption, and after leaving office. As for Lee Teng-hui, during the 1996 direct elections, his political platform included the "National Unification Guidelines." Even his "two states theory," launched in 1999, merely attempted to attract Pale Green voters in order to boost Lien Chan's election prospects in 2000. He did not assert that "the Republic of China no longer exists." He said that only after leaving office. But Tsai Ing-wen was perceived as a party chairman committed to transforming the DPP, and a likely 2012 ROC presidential candidate. Yet at the same point in her career, she has adopted an even more irrationally independence-minded stance than either Lee Teng-hui or Chen Shui-bian. What in the world inspired her to openly assert that the "Republic of China is a government in exile?"
Many people are waiting to see what positions Tsai Ing-wen will adopt on national identity and the status of the ROC Constitution in her "Political Platform for the Coming Decade." But over the past month, she has spoken repeatedly of "abolishing ECFA upon assuming power." She has spoken of having "no intention of abolishing the Taiwan Independence Party Constitution," and she has characterized the ROC as a "government in exile." She has even said we must "repudiate our economics above all priorities, and export-oriented tendencies." She has no qualms about ruling out her own transformation or the transformation of the DPP. Her behavior is incomprehensible. Since she asserts that the "Republic of China is a government in exile," how can she possibly lead the DPP to a victory in 2012?
What's even more remarkable, is that Tsai Ing-wen's assertions were hardly a slip of the tongue. The words "government in exile" appeared in black ink on white paper. Since Tsai Ing-wen is advocating Taiwan independence, why is she behaving in such a superficial manner? If Tsai Ing-wen is merely indulging in political power plays, why is she behaving in such a ridiculous manner?
Tsai Ing-wen's "two states theory" brought down the Lee Teng-hui regime. Her stubborn opposition to the 1992 Consensus brought down the Chen Shui-bian regime. Now she is apparently using "government in exile" rhetoric to prevent the DPP from undergoing transformation and taking the high road. Is this still the rational Tsai Ing-wen moderate voters believed her to be?
The phrase "government in exile," printed in black ink on white paper, is a serious matter. Can Tsai Ing-wen cavalierly dismiss public concerns merely by saying that she "has no time for political mudslinging?"
2010.05.31 01:30 am