Bipartisan: The One Word Taiwan Most Desperately Needs
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 14, 2012
Summary: Bipartisanship is essential on major policy issues. Without it, Taiwan will remain forever divided, forever at loggerheads, forever spinning its wheels. President Ma has extended an invitation to the DPP, TSU, and PFP, inviting them to participate in a ruling and opposition party leader summit. We hope the opposition parties will participate. We hope they will reach a consensus on US beef imports, a free economic zone, TIFA, TPP, and other major issues. We hope they will achieve bipartisanship. That is the one thing Taiwan most desperately needs.
Full Text below:
The two major parties disagree on U.S. beef imports. The KMT advocates "conditional opening." The DPP leadership insists it has "never wavered in its opposition to clenbuterol and ractopamine."
The two parties are at loggerheads. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has linked U.S. beef imports to TIFA. It has said the Ma administration "never made any promises" to the United States regarding beef imports. Just the opposite. It made clear that the DPP under Chen Shui-bian was the administration that made promises to the US regarding beef imports, that wrote the World Trade Organization (WTO) promising to allow beef imports and establish standards for clenbuterol and ractopamine content in US pork and beef products.
It was a situation rife with irony. The United States longs to market beef to consumers on Taiwan. But the target of its pressure is not the Ma administration. It is the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It paradoxically defends the Ma administration, saying that it "never made any promises."
The AIT wants to know why the DPP agreed to beef imports when it was in office, but rejects them now that it is in the opposition. The AIT is essentially backing the DPP leadership into a corner. It is forcing the DPP to lie, espouse anti-Americanism, and oppose TIFA. It has already left the DPP without a leg to stand on. What the AIT has not said, is that when the KMT was in the opposition, it too opposed the importation of meats treated with clenbuterol and ractopamine. The KMT performed an about face and conditionally agreed to permit US beef imports only because it is now the ruling party. What this shows is that when it comes to clenbuterol and ractopamine, the DPP and the KMT are textbook cases of Miles' Law, which says "Where you stand depends on where you sit." It is also a living, breathing example of why bipartisanship is so difficult to achieve on Taiwan.
The term "bipartisan" is found in such terms as "bipartisan agreement," "bipartisanship," and "bipartisan support." The concept of bipartisanship evolved from party politics in the United States. Partisan political wrangling became "opposition for the sake of opposition" and tore the nation apart. This led to the gradual realization that regarding important matters such as foreign policy, political parties require consistency. Hence the birth of bipartisanship. Hence the appearance of such phenomenon as a congressional "bipartisan committee" passing a "bipartisan resolution," a "bipartisan deficit reduction committee," a "bipartisan Katrina Hurricane Investigation Committee," or a private sector think tank such as the "Bipartisan Policy Center."
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in party politics on Taiwan. Between the two parties, one finds only "opposition for the sake of opposition." The lack of bipartisanship begins with allegiance to the nation and to its constitution. On this, there is no bipartisanship. One party operates under the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of China. The other party is determined to "de-Sinicize." Cross-strait policy is no exception, One-party supports the 1992 Consensus. The other party refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus. One party promoted ECFA. The other party insists that ECFA "panders to [Mainland] China and sells out Taiwan." Such confrontation seldom represents principled dissent. Instead it often represents partisan political maneuvering. For example, when Chen Shui-bian was in the opposition, he advocated Taiwan independence. When he came into office, he advocated the "Five Noes." When he found himself in a crisis of governance he advocated the "rectification of names." When he once again found himself out of power, he reverted to "one nation on each side." As newly appointed Party Chairman, Tsai Ing-wen denounced ECFA as "humiliating." But when she became a presidential candidate, she said she would "accept it unconditionally."
Such policy flip-flopping fails more than the test for bipartisanship. It fails even the test for partisan consistency and individual consistency. Such examples abound. Take the two major parties' policy on the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant. The two parties disagreed with each other. But the two parties have also flip-flopped, repeatedly. The same is true of subsidies for elderly farmers. Has the situation ever been otherwise? Needless to say, there is no bipartisanship on U.S. beef imports. Even worse, both parties are faithful adherents to Miles' Law." Where they stand depends on where they sit.
The AIT pulled no punches. It underscored the lack of bipartisanship on the US beef imports issue. U.S. beef is not a trivial issue, It is vital to national health. It is a trade issue that affects TIFA, FTAs, and Taipei/Washington relations. It could even undermine Taipei's chances of joining the TPP. Can we really oppose something merely for the sake of opposing it on such issues? Shouldn't we establish bipartisanship?
The DPP has flip-flopped on clenbuterol and ractopamine. The rival political parties must seek common ground on national and constitutional allegiance, cross-Strait policy, industrial policy, nuclear energy policy, agricultural policy, tax policy, and other major policies. They must establish a bipartisanship policy framework, beginning with clenbuterol and ractopamine.
Bipartisanship is essential on major policy issues. Without it, Taiwan will remain forever divided, forever at loggerheads, forever spinning its wheels. President Ma has extended an invitation to the DPP, TSU, and PFP, inviting them to participate in a ruling and opposition party leader summit. We hope the opposition parties will participate. We hope they will reach a consensus on US beef imports, a free economic zone, TIFA, TPP, and other major issues. We hope they will achieve bipartisanship. That is the one thing Taiwan most desperately needs.
2012.03.14 01:54 am
Bipartisan，可譯為「兩黨一致的」，也有譯為「兩黨連立的」，或逕譯為「兩黨支持的」。Bipartisan這個概念，演化自美國的政黨政治；由於政黨之間「為反對而反對」的制衡角力，演成了國家社會的撕裂；因此逐漸領悟到，各政黨須在有些重要政策（如外交政策）上，持一致立場，遂有Bipartisanship這個概念產生。於是，美國國會時有「兩黨委員會」（Bipartisan Committee），並通過「兩黨決議」（Bipartisan Resolution），如「兩黨刪減赤字委員會」，或「兩黨卡翠納颶風事件調查委員會」，另民間亦有智庫稱「兩黨政策中心」（Bipartisan Policy Center）。