Ten Year War of Resistance? Is It Really that Serious?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 15, 2010
Taipei and Beijng reached a consensus during the third working session of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). Meanwhile an ECFA referendum proposal submitted to the Referendum Commission was shot down. Its sponsors, the DPP, TSU, and nativist pressure groups vowed to wage a "ten year war of resistance" against the agreement. They declared their intent to closely oversee the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy. Government policies have always needed close oversight. In the event of a third change in ruling parties, the target of the nativist pressure groups' ten year war of resistance may well change. These pressure groups may demand that the DPP abolish ECFA. The KMT's position on cross-Strait policy is clear and firm. The KMT believes expanded exchanges are essential. Ironically, the DPP is the party that must justify its position. It can no longer sow dissension between North and South in an effort to cloud the issue or fool the voters.
The DPP is the largest opposition party. It is the one nativist pressure groups have pinned their hopes on. The DPP must bear in mind that it was once in power for eight years. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party enforced the "avoid haste, be patient" cross-Strait edict handed down by Lee Teng-hui late in his administration. The Ah-Bian administration's "active management" imposed limits on direct cross-Strait transportation links and the influx of mainland capital, But it was never able to extricate itself from its dilemma. This was one of the main reasons for the second change in ruling parties.
The Ma administration has been in office two years. Regardless of how effective its other policies may be, its cross-Strait policy is a significant improvement. Direct cross-Strait flights have continuously increased. The number of flights between Songshang Airport and Hongqiao Airport has increased by multiples. Songshan Airport had fallen into a state of semi-stagnation during the eight years of the Chen administration. The Ma administration's cross-Strait policy has brought Songshan Airport back to life. Li Ying-yuan and Frank Hsieh, two DPP candidates for Taipei Mayor, both advocated moving Songshan Airport and converting it into a Central Park for the nation's capital. From an urban development and environmental perspective, this is a tempting option. Especially if Songshan Airport had no potential for development. But the situation has changed dramatically. Songshan Airport has become the most popular airport for direct cross-Strait flights. Su Tseng-chang is the Democratic Progressive Party candidate for Taipei Mayor. This change has embarrassed him in particular. The vast majority of air travelers are accustomed to flying directly to the mainland from Songshan Airport. They prefer it. Moving Songshan Airport is not a policy that would curry favor with them. For political candidates, policy proposals must change as the situation demands. But for the DPP Songshan Airport is no ordinary direct flight airport. It involves subtle issues of cross-Strait relations and national development. The DPP's biggest problem is how to frame an argument that will satisfy its fundamentalist supporters but also the far more numerous moderate voters who will determine whether the DPP returns to power.
Songshan Airport is a simple issue. Yet it constitutes a complex dilemma for the DPP. From this we can see why the Cross-Strait Economic Framework Agreement is such an intractable problem for the DPP. The Democratic Progressive Party opposes ECFA. But it is impotent to prevent closer cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges. It opposes a cross-Strait agreement. But the greatest harm the DPP's obstructionism has done, is to Taiwan businesses and Taiwan's vast economic interests. No bilateral agreement is going to have only an upside and no downside. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen accuses the Ma administration of wishful thinking, of seeing only the benefits and ignoring the risks. But the Democratic Progressive Party has fallen prey to the other extreme. It sees only the risks and ignores the benefits. The DPP has exaggerated the cross-Strait policy risk for eight years. The majority of the public does not buy its arguments. The Ma administration has expanded exchanges, conveyed goodwill, and sought victory amidst danger. Over the past two years, it has achieved impressive results. The public has witnessed the Ma administration's policy achievements. It sees results. Hypothetical, virtual risks are merely a Procrustean Bed into which the DPP continues to force fit its cross-Strait policy.
For example, while the Democratic Progressive Party was shrilly voicing its opposition to ECFA, local DPP county and municipal chiefs were visiting the mainland. They were visiting the Shanghai World Expo, or promoting their cities. Democratic Progressive Party officials on the mainland were afraid to voice opposition to ECFA. DPP legislators even heaped abuse on a contestant who participated in a beauty pageant on the mainland, blasting her for "demeaning the nation's dignity." To their dismay, the contestant turned out to be the girl friend of a DPP legislator's son. They were forced to offer an abject apology. In the end, their knee-jerk political response hurt only themselves. Similar incidents have occurred. Attorney Chen Chang-wen wrote an open letter to the Referendum Commission. He found himself denounced as the "KMT's hatchetman" by the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, and the Liberty Times. Some critics even drew parallels between the Chen family's shortcomings and Chen's political stance. But according to their logic, wouldn't that make any academic who stood up and publicly criticized the Referendum Commission a "hatchetman for the DPP, TSU, Deep Green, and Taiwan independence elements?" Under a democratic political system, no act of oversight or opposition should subject a person to personal attacks or artificial political labeling.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party governed for eight years. The spiritual leader of the Taiwan Solidarity Union and other nativist pressure groups served as Republic of China President for 12 years. Both have enjoyed the fruits of our democracy. They should be capable of discussing policy rationally. They can begin with the mayoral elections for the five directly administered municipalities. The DPP and KMT must have the courage to declare their stand on ECFA, and allow voters to vote their consciences. Their ballots will impact not just the year end five municipalities election. They will impact the 2012 presidential election. Most importantly, they will impact the coming decade.