MAC: Hsia Replaces Wang Amidst Tripartite Wrangling
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 12, 2015
Executive Summary: Former Vice Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council Chang Hsien-yao
will not be indicted for leaking information to Beijing. Chairman Wang
Yu-chi will assume responsibility and resign, to be succeeded by Deputy
Defense Minister Hsia Li-yan. No agreement was reached on the M503
mid-Strait flight path proposed by the Mainland. Last Wednesday the MAC
cited it as grounds for postponing Mainland Taiwan Affairs Office
Director Zhang Zhijun's visit to Kinmen. Today Wang Yu-chi resigned. The
Wang Zhang meeting is now a bust. The future of cross-Strait relations
is now a matter of increasing concern.
Full Text Below:
Former Vice Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council Chang Hsien-yao will not be indicted for leaking information to Beijing. Chairman Wang Yu-chi will assume responsibility and resign, to be succeeded by Deputy Defense Minister Hsia Li-yan. No agreement was reached on the M503 mid-Strait flight path proposed by the Mainland. Last Wednesday the MAC cited it as grounds for postponing Mainland Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun's visit to Kinmen. Today Wang Yu-chi resigned. The Wang Zhang meeting is now a bust. The future of cross-Strait relations is now a matter of increasing concern.
Over the past year, cross-Strait relations have been troubled. Last February Wang Yu-chi visited Nanjing. Last June Zhang Zhijun visited Taiwan. The two Wang Zhang meetings held on the two sides of the Strait authored a new page in cross-Strait history. But the impact of the Sunflower Student Movement, the Chang Hsien-yao leaks case, the never realized APEC Ma Xi meeting, Xi Jinping's underscoring of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong's Occupy Central protests, and the nine in one KMT election debacle all took their toll. Cross-Strait relations are the worst they have been since the Ma government took office in 2008.
Last August, Wang Yu-chi accused vice chairman and chief negotiator Chang Hsien-yao of leaking information to Beijing. This inflicted irreparable harm upon cross-Strait trust. Worse, it undermined the credibility of nearly 20 agreements reached by the two sides over the past six years. Chang Hsien-yao will not be prosecuted due to insufficient evidence. Chang Hsien-yao's behavior remains questionable, but at least the damage to cross-Strait relations has been minimized. The credibility of the cross-Strait agreements has been upheld. On the other hand, such incidents and their poor handling have precipitated political storms. They have exposed disarray and lack of leadership among those in authority. Wang Yu-chi is taking the fall. This may limit the damage to cross-Strait relations. But it makes the Ma government look even worse.
The two Wang Zhang meetings have already established the mechanism for regular meetings between those charged with cross-Strait affairs. MAC chairperson changes, such as Hsia replacing Wang, are unlikely to affect normal cross-Strait relations. The nine in one elections last November dramatically changed the blue-green political landscape and the KMT power structure. Cross-strait relations are now part of a complex three-way struggle between the KMT, DPP, and CCP.
Given the changes in Taiwan's political situation, Beijing must be psychologically prepared for another ruling party change in 2016. It must be prepared to modify its strategic Taiwan policy arrangements. On the one hand, Beijing appears committed to maintaining normal cross-Strait relations. The Entrepreneurs Summit agreed upon last December will be held in Taipei, as planned. ARATS chairman Chen Demin will visit Taiwan, as planned. MTA technical consultations and three meetings concerning the cross-Strait financial industry will take place, as planned. The late January cross-Strait "Economic Cooperation Meeting" will be held in Taipei, as planned. Zhang Zhijun will visit Kinmen and attend the third Wang Zhang meeting, as planned. On the other hand, Beijing has reaffirmed the 1992 consensus and opposition to Taiwan independence as the foundation for cross-Strait interaction. In early January it unilaterally announced a new flight path near the center line of the Taiwan Strait. The strategic implications are self-evident. It is adopting a carrot and stick policy towards Taiwan. It has issued a powerful declaration. It will continue to offer cross-Strait economic benefits as incentives for cooperation. But it will not hesitate to apply pressure when it comes to the political bottom line. The blue and green camps will feel varying degrees of pressure. The DPP in particular will surely get Beijing's meaning, loud and clear.
Consider the KMT's nine in one election defeat. President Ma Ying-jeou has resigned as party chairman. His farewell address stressed the correctness of the KMT's basic path for the nation, and that the KMT was a victim of circumstances. The public on Taiwan has been skeptical of the Ma government's cross-Strait policy. Even New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu, the newly-elected Chairman of the KMT, has publicly declared that the KMT must consider the psychological impact of its cross-Strait policy on the people of Taiwan, and who benefits from them. Also, Beijing's main consideration on Taiwan policy is no longer the Ma government's position. Its new, unilaterally established flight path provoked a public backlash on Taiwan. Fearing an impact on the 2016 elections, the Ma government has taken a tougher line on cross-Strait policy. Without warning it postponed Zhang Zhijun's visit to Kinmen. This is understandable. But the greatest advantage the KMT has over the DPP is its ability to maintain peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations. What if anything will Eric Chu do differently? Beijing and the DPP are undoubtedly watching.
The DPP must adopt a more pragmatic cross-strait policy, one acceptable to both Washington and Beijing. The DPP seeks the presidency in 2016. A more pragmatic policy is essential if Tsai Ing-wen hopes to complete the final mile towards the Presidential Palace. But the nine in one elections boosted support fot the green camp. The DPP will now find it difficult to change its cross-Strait policy. Xi Jinping is taking a tougher stance. Expecting Beijing to make further concessions is increasingly unrealistic. The KMT, DPP, and CCP are engaged in a three way struggle. The DPP has very few cards it can play. Tsai Ing-wen's final mile will remain rocky and strewn with obstacles.
Cross-strait relations have entered a new phase. The old model can no longer cope with rapidly changing circumstances. The KMT, DPP, and CCP must realize this. Can they move from wrestling with each other to understanding each other? Can they join hands and ensure peaceful cross-Strait relations? The political wisdom of the leaders of the three parties will soon be tested. The replacement of the MAC chairperson may be an embarrassing setback. But it may also be an opportunity for change.
2015-02-12 03:04:27 聯合報 社論