The Three Pillars of "Taiwan Next"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 2, 2011
Tsai Ing-wen's campaign platform is "Taiwan Next." Ma Ying-jeou calls his campaign headquarters "Taiwan's Gas Station/Taiwan's Cheering Section." Both focus attention on "Taiwan's future." But how should Taiwan cheer itself on? What must Taiwan do next?
"Taiwan's future" has three pillars. Since martial law was lifted on Taiwan, and Mainland China underwent reform and liberalization, Taiwan's future has depended upon on three pillars. One. Allegiance to the Republic of China and the Republic of China Constitution. Two. Improved cross-Strait relations. Three. Economic development. These three are mutually linked.
Among these, cross-Strait relations is the key. Cross-Strait relations has a powerful influence on allegiance to the Republic of China, to its constitution, and to its economic development. Peaceful development is predicated upon allegiance to the nation and its constitution. Economic development is predicated upon freedom and openess. Therefore the Republic of China must ensure allegiance to the nation and its constitution, and freedom and openess. Only these can ensure the favorable development of cross-Strait relations.
Taiwan has paid a heavy price over the years. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian controlled the nation's fate for 20 years. They undermined peoples' national and constitutional allegiance. They convinced them to support Taiwan independence. In economics, they imposed their euphemistically named policy of "effective opening, active management." They forbade direct links. As a result, the two sides clashed repeatedly. Society became divided. Taipei and Washington found themselves at loggerheads. They practiced "war diplomacy." The economy slid into depression, and suffered repeated shocks. Taiwan lost its chance to become an Asia-Pacific operations center. This was simple cause and effect. A confused national and constitutional allegiance undermined cross-Strait relations and economic development.
Today most people realize that Lee and Chen era cross-Strait policy was a mistake and a failure. It was a mistake and a failure because they toyed with national and constitutional allegiance. This undermined the economy. By contrast, in 2008 Ma Ying-jeou won by a landslide, primarily because of his stance on national and constitutional allegiance, cross-Strait relations, and economic development. Cross-Strait policy has always been the issue on which Ma Ying-jeou has received the highest degree of public approval. One benefit has been increased allegiance to the nation and it constitution. Certainly no one is demanding that others jump into the Pacific Ocean. Another benefit has been increased economic momentum. See how enthusiastically Chen Chu welcomed the Free and Independent Travel Policy for Mainland tourists.
Tsai Ing-wen shouts "Taiwan Next." Ma Ying-jeou shouts "Go Taiwan." But before Tsai and Ma can implement their respective policies, they must clearly state their positions on these three pillars. First consider national and constitutional allegiance. Ma Ying-jeou's national and constitutional allegiance has never changed. He has always championed the 1992 Consensus, "one China, different interpretations," and "no reunification, no independence, no use of force," all under the constitutional framework of the Republic of China. Tsai Ing-wen on the other hand, has yet to explain what she meant by "The Republic of China is a government in exile." She still wants to return to the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. But the Resolution on Taiwan's Future is nothing but "backdoor listing." Chen Shui-bian discredited the Resolution on Taiwan's Future years ago. Therefore Tsai Ing-wen must make clear which Republic of China she is referring to. Is it the Republic of China that has long existed, past, present, and future? Or is it the shell company mentioned in the Resolution on Taiwan's Future?
Now consider cross-Strait relations. As mentioned earlier, Ma champions the 1992 Consensus, "one China, different interpretations," and "no reunification, no independence, no use force." Beijing's bottom line is opposition to Taiwan independence, and commitment to the 1992 consensus. Tsai seems unwilling to utter "no independence." She also seems afraid to say "no reunification." She opposes "one China, different interpretations," and repudiates the 1992 consensus. In which case, we must ask the DPP, just what do you mean by "Taiwan Next?"
Now consider economic development. This is the era of globalization. Under Lee and Chen, Taiwan lost many economic opportunities. This inflicted serious damage to Taiwan's economic health. The Ma administration re-invigorated cross-Strait economic and trade relations. That is not a panacea of course. But it is undoubtedly essential to Taiwan's economic reconstruction. That much is plain to see. By contrast, Tsai Ing-wen rails against "economic growth above all." She opposes an "export-oriented economy." She wants to reverse the "industry over agriculture policy." She wants a "localized economy." She would increase subsidies to workers, farmers, and the socially disadvantaged, and increase social welfare spending, She champions "globalization without the Chinese Mainland." Beijing has made clear that "all cross-Strait exchanges are based on the 1992 consensus." Yet Tsai Ing-wen has stated her intention to kill the 1992 consensus. Under these circumstances, what's "next" for Taiwan's economy?
Allegiance to the nation and the constitution, cross-Strait relations, and economic development, have a synergistic "three in one" effect in the real world. At its root is allegiance to the nation and the constitution. At its hub is cross-Strait relations. The reward is economic development. Ma Ying-jeou's "three in one" path runs no risk of "pandering to [Mainland] China, and selling out Taiwan." Tsai Ing-wen's "three in one" path however, does betray the nation and the constitution. It tears the nation apart. It leads to cross-Strait enmity. The fact is Taiwan cannot succeed in "globalization without the Chinese Mainland."
Ma Ying-jeou's "three in one" path does not risk "pandering to [Mainland] China, and selling out Taiwan." This path is consistent with the constitutional framework of the Republic of China. It is headed by the President of the Republic of China, who is democratically elected and overseen by the citizens of the Republic of China. It "puts Taiwan first" and it "benefits Taiwan's people." Tsai Ing-wen's "three in one" path on the other hand, promotes Taiwan independence. The "Republic of China" Tsai hopes to be elected president of is nothing more than a shell company for the Republic of Taiwan. Her national and constitutional allegiances, her cross-Strait policies, and her economic development policies will bring back the internal divisions that prevailed during the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian era.
The presidential election should be based on these three pillars for Taiwan's future. If the pillars are straight, all will remain in order. If the pillars are crooked, all will be plunged into chaos.
Ma Ying-jeou's strategy is to uphold these three pillars, to keep his eye on the ball. Tsai Ing-wen's strategy is to avoid these three pillars. She hopes to use other issues to distract from these three pillars. She hopes to use political and economic isolation to shift the focus. Ma Ying-jeou intends to uphold these three pillars. Tsai Ing-wen intends to evade them. But either way, both are affirming the importance of these three pillars for Taiwan's future.