Two DPP Suns with a Difference
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
January 21, 2014
Summary: The Mainland economy is about to undergo transformation. The
internationalization and liberalization of the renminbi is the key to
successful transformation. Taiwan is promoting the liberalization of the
NTD and financial liberalization. The results have been mixed. Lin
Chuan and Hu Sheng-cheng are educated and have a wealth of practical
experience. Beijing is very interested in meeting them. Yesterday Tsai
Ing-wen and the delegates held a press conference. The newness of
official DPP contacts with the Mainland was palpable. Those in
attendance could not disguise the excitement in their faces. This sun is rising. The Kuomintang should beware.
Full text below:
On the 9th of this month the DPP China Affairs Committee issued its "2014 China Policy Review Minutes." Criticism was widespread. Critics felt the DPP failed to honestly confront the final obstacle standing in the way of a DPP return to power. Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office criticized it as well. It said "it takes the same old Taiwan independence path," and "a dead end is still a dead end." During the conference Tsai Ing-wen repeatedly asked "Then what?" Afterwards, she quietly dispatched a group of aides on a secret visit to Beijing. Su Tseng-chang embarked on a European trip, and said he would deliver a DPP China Policy speech while in the United Kingdom. The two began a wrestling match over the party chairmanship election. They laid the groundwork for the 2016 presidential nomination. As the two camps' visits show, Tsai and Su are fighting over the final obstacle standing in the way of a DPP return to power. Each has made a different choice. Who made the right choice is obvious.
Su announced the "Review Minutes," then went on a radio talk show. He presented his "seagulls on the beach" and "China plus one" arguments. His so-called "seagulls on the beach" argument compares cross-strait relations to seagulls on the beach. Each goes his own way. Each is independent of the other. At most, they appreciate each other. His "China plus one" argument borrows from the "ASEAN plus 3" international convention. His cross-strait relations metaphors show that in his heart of hearts, Su thinks in terms of "one nation on each side." Given such attitudes, exchanges with the Mainland are impossible.
Frank Hsieh thinks Su Tseng-chang's "seagulls on a beach" argument is inappropriate. Does the Mainland want to "capture" Taiwan? Does the DPP want to communicate with the Mainland? Either way, contact cannot be avoided. Since it is impossible to avoid contacts, how can one argue that each will go his own way? Hsieh said he was puzzled by the "China plus one" argument. Instead of talking about "China plus one," why not talk about "Taiwan plus one?" Tsai Ing-wen expressed no objection to Su's argument. She said Su merely meant that "If Taiwan and China can respect each other, they can live in peace."
The Taiwan independence coloration in Su Tseng-chang's speech was unmistakable. Tsai Ing-wen was more ambiguous. On the one hand, she did not want to offend Taiwan independence fundamentalists. On the other hand, she wanted to remain pragmatic and flexible. Her statements regarding China policy are more of the same. She says cross-strait relations are complicated. If one wishes to debate them, one must first make comprehensive and precise advance plans. Some things are suitable for debate. Some things are not. Such is Tsai Ing-wen's style. Unclear statements and vague generalities. The two politicians exemplify the DPP's cross-strait policy dilemma.
We do more than listen to what they say. We also look at what they do. Su Tseng-chang has embarked on his European tour. Tsai Ing-wen has dispatched aides to Mainland China. Each has chosen a different path. Su Tseng-chang's visit to Europe is shrouded in mystery. Before his departure he disclosed nothing. The only part of his itinerary made public was his speech in the UK, at the Centre of Taiwan Studies at SOAS, University of London. He was accompanied by DPP Representative to the US Joseph Wu and Director of International Affaris Liu Shi-chung. Sure enough, he said the DPP would continue to "join the international community before approaching China" He said the DPP would continue its "democratic alliance" strategy. In other words, it would ally with Washington, Tokyo, Seoul, and other Asian democracies to contain Mainland China. But this conflicts with cross-strait peaceful development. This is inconsistent with the bigger strategic picture between Beijing, Washington and the major powers. Instead it echoes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cold War mentality.
Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric remains vague. It maintains flexibility. Her actions meanwhile, reflect changed thinking. She has begun communicating directly with the Mainland. The experience of the last election taught her a lesson, that "joining the international community before approaching the Mainland" is not feasible. In 2012 Tsai Ing-wen aggressively distanced herself from Ma Ying-jeou's "joiningg iwth Mainland before joining the world" strategy. She visited Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines. She fired her opening shot at the very spot where Philippines President Corazon Aquino was inaugurated. But in the end, the final obstacle standing in the way of the DPP's return to power, remained cross-strait relations. Tsai Ing-wen remembers the lesson. This time her path has changed.
The roster of Tsai Ing-wen aides is long. They include Thinking Taiwan Foundation leader Lin Chuan, former National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Chiang Chun-nan, former CEPD Hu Sheng-cheng, Vice Chairman Chang Ching-sen, former FSC chairman Shi Chun-chi, former MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san, former Comptroller Hsu Chang-yao, DPP legislator Hsiao Bi-khim, and Chai Chi-chang. It has all the earmarks of a shadow cabinet. It contrasts sharply with Su Tseng-chang's lineup. It reveals the increasing gap between the strength of the "two DPP suns." The pragmatists within the party now constitute the mainstream.
The main purpose of Lin Chuan's visit was to understand the Mainland economy. Lin visited think tanks, the National Bureau of Statistics, and other official institutions and private enterprises. Lin Chuan said the visit was the result of bilateral discussions. He said he looked forward to more exchanges. Tsai Ing-wen expressed hope that the trip would help Taiwan society.
The Mainland economy is about to undergo transformation. The internationalization and liberalization of the renminbi is the key to successful transformation. Taiwan is promoting the liberalization of the NTD and financial liberalization. The results have been mixed. Lin Chuan and Hu Sheng-cheng are educated and have a wealth of practical experience. Beijing is very interested in meeting them. Yesterday Tsai Ing-wen and the delegates held a press conference. The newness of official DPP contacts with the Mainland was palpable. Those in attendance could not disguise the excitement in their faces .
This sun is rising. The Kuomintang should beware.
中國時報 本報訊 2014年01月21日 04:09