Rejection of Partial Sovereignty is the Key to Taiwan's Survival
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 14, 2013
Summary: Our position is "A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation. He must remain aggressive and never hesitate." We must be aggressive in the face international challenges. Chiang Ching-kuo said, "take a step back and survive." Opening up Taiwan means giving up something. Being aggressive means gaining something. This is the key to Taiwan's economic policy. Reject this and we are lost.
Full text below:
During the Three Kingdoms era, Kong Ming, aka Zhuge Liang, launched six campaigns against the Kingdom of Wei from Qishan. He never achieved his dream. But his ringing declaration that "Heroes and villains cannot share power. A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation." has echoed down through the ages.
Zhuge Liang knew that the Three Kingdoms struggle meant that either Shu would annihilate Wei or Wei would annihilate Shu. Many within the Kingdom of Shu disagreed. But Kong Ming embarked on his Northern Expedition nevertheless. He knew that if Shu resigned itself to sovereignty over only part of the country, that would lead to its downfall. History proves that Zhuge Liang was right.
Consider today's Taiwan. Consider its geography and population. Consider the ROC's national strength. Compare it to the Kingdom of Shu, which faced relatively fewer challenges. The Kingdom of Shu was protected by natural barriers. It was an agriculture-based society. It enjoyed self-sufficiency. The time and place were different. Today's Taiwan faces dangers greater, more complex, and more varied than those faced by the Kingdom of Shu.
Therefore what is the key to Taiwan's survival? Zhuge Liang argued that "Heroes and villains cannot share power. A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation." He was speaking politically. But Mr. Zhuge's wisdom applies economically as well. Our implicit strategy must be "A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation. He must remain aggressive and never hesitate."
"A ruler must not accept partial sovereignty over his nation." Taipei and Beijing have signed FTAs with each other and with foreign governments. They have also signed a TISA. These agreements are manifestations of our refusal to accept partial sovereignty over our nation. We must refuse to accept partial sovereignty over our nation. We must actively seek FTAs with foreign countries and the Mainland. If we accept partial sovereignty over our nation, we will inevitably fall victim to great danger.
Beginning in 2000, many countries signed intercontinental or regional FTAs. We worried about our economy becoming marginalized. These fears were warranted. We are not like the Kingdom of Shu. We cannot close our doors and ignore the outside world. We cannot adopt an ostrich, head in the sand mentality in the face of international trade integration. If we do, we will lose business. We will lose in the international marketplace. Our people will face death or destitution. They will not be able to live and propsper.
"A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation. He must remain aggressive and never hesitate." That is easy to say but hard to do. Every FTA we sign requires us to give something up to get something in return. This is why the position that "A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation." is so difficult to uphold. Has any FTA, signed anywhere in the world, ever allowed on to only take and not give? The answer is no. Both parties must give something. They must also gain something. Only such a Free Trade Agreement is a fair trade agreement.
If one party gains something while losing nothing, then that is an unequal treaty. Therefore losing something is essential to any trade agreement. We must not focus on a single point but lose sight of the Big Picture.
Some say the recent TISA agreement may impact the beauty parlor and hairdressing industries. Will a massive influx of Mainland businesses impact the industry? That remains unknown. But Japanese, Korean, Hong Kong, Singaporean, American, and European companies have been operating beauty salons on Taiwan for some time. Taiwan is already a venue for global industry competition. Can Mainland hairdressers on Taiwan really displace international and local companies? Will allowing Mainland companies in this sector to operate on Taiwan really have a catastrophic impact? The answer should be clear.
As we can see, the impact should not be that great. But other businesses may still be affected. This possibility must not be ruled out. Therefore signing a TISA with the Mainland, a GAT with New Zealand, or an FTA with Singapore should be the same as joining the WTO and committing to open markets. We must first be psychologically prepared to give something up. Those industries that will be most seriously impacted must make advance preparations. They must be provided with the necessary trade relief, grants, or assistance, These are commonly used government countermeasures. Since Taiwan joined the WTO, we have had years of experience with trade remedies. This is something we can handle.
In early 2002, Taiwan formally joined the WTO. This move had the full support of the nation. As we can see, refusal to accept partial sovereignty over one's nation is the high road that will ensure our long term economic survival. As matters stand, multilateral WTO negotiations on international agreements have been blocked. Taipei cannot join the TPP or RCEP overnight. The situation is complex. The aforementioned bilateral trade agreement is an important agreement that does not require us to accept partial sovereignty over our nation.
Our position is "A ruler must never accept partial sovereignty over his nation. He must remain aggressive and never hesitate." We must be aggressive in the face international challenges. Chiang Ching-kuo said, "take a step back and survive." Opening up Taiwan means giving up something. Being aggressive means gaining something. This is the key to Taiwan's economic policy. Reject this and we are lost.