Protests Against the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services:
Hating Mainland China? Or Harming Taiwan?
United Daily News editorial
(Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
March 27, 2014
Summary: The wildfire of opposition to the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services burns ever hotter, even as it goes ever more astray. The students leading the protests did not act out of ignorance. The DPP, which added fuel to the fire, did not act out of ignorance. So the question is: Since you clearly understand this, why are you insisting that Taiwan travel the road to ruin?
Full text below:
Protesters opposed to the Cross-Strait Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services waved the banner of opposition to [Mainland] China. But their actions may well harm Taiwan.
Actually, Taiwan must deal with more than the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services. Taiwan hopes that the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services will improve the ECFA system, increase cross-strait trust and goodwill, and facilitate membership in the TPP and RCEP. If Taiwan cannot join the TPP and RCEP, it will be increasingly marginalized in both the regional and international economy. This marginalization will make Taiwan even more economically dependent upon the Mainland, and more suseptible to Mainland China political pressure. Therefore the agreement involves a paradox. In the name of opposition to Mainland China, the protests are bringing disaster upon Taiwan.
This is common knowledge for people on both sides of the issue. The stars of the current political storm are college students. They should have some modicum of common sense and reasoning ability. If they are free from political prejudices, they can read the pros and cons on the Internet. Surely they realize this protest opposing Mainland China has harmed Taiwan instead. Even assuming the college students are unaware of this, can the DPP be equally unaware? After all, it has been dealing with this issue for the past several decades. Therefore the current situation is not the result of protestors ignorance, but something else.
After Jesus was crucified the Apostle Peter said, "Brothers, I know you acted out of ignorance. Your leader did so as well. " The student leaders occupying the legislature grounds did not act out of ignorance. DPP party princes Tsai Ing-wen, Frank Hsieh, and Su Tseng-chang, who fanned the flames, did not act out of ignorance. They knew their actions would precipitate disaster upon Taiwan. They knew their opposition to Mainland China was a dead end path that would in fact harm Taiwan. Yet for partisan advantage, they were perfectly willing bury Taiwan.
How should we characterize this storm over the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services? Opposition to black box operations? Opposition to the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services? Opposition to Mainland China? Or harmful to Taiwan? First take opposition to black box operations. Sixteen public hearings and up to one hundred briefings were held. Government officials and the opposition parties addressed the issue almost daily. The Internet featured millions of pro and con opinions regarding everything, from the impact of globalization, to the details of the trade provisions. The common people can complain about a "lack of communication." But student leaders are supposed to be intellectuals seeking rational dialogue. Otherwise why would they seek a meeting with the president? Others may be able to talk about "black box operations." But the DPP legislative caucus can hardly talk about "black box operations." After all, Su Tseng-chang turned down Ma Ying-jeou's invitation to debate the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services, did he not? Democracies the world over follow the same procedure. The executive signs a treaty. It is later reviewed by the legislature. It is voted up or down as a complete package. The provisions of the agreement will be made public during Legislative Yuan review. The pros and cons will all be presented to society. There simply will be no "black box" to speak of.
Wang Jin-pyng refused to participate in the inter-yuan coordination meeting. Leave aside his political calculations. He correctly defined the matter as the internal affairs of the legislature. This is a serious procedural conflict. It is a controversial matter of procedural justice. Therefore the Legislative Yuan must resume operations. It must return to a line item review and line item vote. This is not a matter of legal procedure. It is a matter of Legislative Yuan political consultation. It is a political process. It completely eliminates the problem of "black box operations."
So are the protests opposition to the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services? The students occupying the legislature and the DPP are not advocating totally severing cross-strait trade. Nor do they oppose those parts of the agreement that are beneficial to Taiwan. They merely mutter about "harm to SMEs." But all FTAs are instances of "give a little to get a little." The Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services is a unilaterally favorable trade agreement, highly favorable to our side. Or do the students and the DPP want Beijing to become Taiwan's "sugar daddy?" If not, how can Taiwan demand a treaty that only takes but does not give? And what if the agreement were to become a "sugar daddy treaty?" Would this not be a benefit to Taiwan? Besides, Taiwan wants to join the TPP and RCEP. Isn't this another case of only taking without giving?
Therefore opposition to black box operations, and opposition to the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services, are mere pretexts. In fact, the true nature of the current storm has to do with Sinophobia. Otherwise, why was legislative review of the agreements with Singapore and New Zealand conducted in accordance with legislative convention? The executive signs a treaty. It is later reviewed. It is voted up or down as a total package. Only the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services has been subjected to political negotiations and a line item review. Some protestors have even advocated a separate "Articles on Cross Strait Negotiation Oversight." Do they want a separate "Articles on TPP Negotiation Oversight" as well? Do they advocate prior review? Besides, the administration has promised a line item review and line item vote. Why not leave well enough alone? Why continue to incite Sinophobia? Therefore as noted above, this is a political storm rooted in Sinophobia. It may cause irreversible harm to Taiwan.
The political storm over the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services has had at least three effects. First, the DPP's policy of reconciliation with Beijing has been exposed as phony. This means that if Democratic Progressive Party ever regains power, Beijing will subject it to extreme pressure. Secondly, international and domestic respect for Taiwan's democracy has been badly undermined. Abroad, trust in any future contracts Taiwan might sign has been undermined. At home, society has been torn asunder. Public confidence in the future of the nation has take a serious hit. Thirdly, a dark shadow has been cast over cross-strait relations. Taiwan's chances of joining the TPP and RCEP may have been undermined. Cross-strait relations without an international network makes Taiwan more dependent on Mainland China. The consequences are hard to imagine.
The wildfire of opposition to the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services burns ever hotter, even as it goes ever more astray. The students leading the protests did not act out of ignorance. The DPP, which added fuel to the fire, did not act out of ignorance. So the question is: Since you clearly understand this, why are you insisting that Taiwan travel the road to ruin?
2014.03.27 04:12 am