3/18 Local Weather Conditions vs. AIIB Macro Level Climate Change
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 8, 2015
Executive Summary: The AIIB or Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, as the name suggests, is a bank that “invests in Asia”. But this March, many European countries apparently "invested in Asia" or “defected to Asia”. This "investment in Asia/defection to Asia", reflects a shift in global power and investment destinations. It also shows that the current atmosphere of opposition to the Mainland and hatred of the Mainland on Taiwan is both wrong and ill-timed.
Full Text Below:
The AIIB or Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, as the name suggests, is a bank that “invests in Asia”. But this March, many European countries apparently "invested in Asia" or “defected to Asia”. This "investment in Asia/defection to Asia", reflects a shift in global power and investment destinations. It also shows that the current atmosphere of opposition to the Mainland and hatred of the Mainland on Taiwan is both wrong and ill-timed.
This "investment in Asia" phenomenon and last year's 3/18 student movement form a dichotomy. The two events are separated by only one year. But they represent two distinctly different political visions and two distinctly different political movements. They are akin to a left-right dialogue. The 3/18 student movement calls for opposition to Mainland China and apartheid across the Taiwan Strait. The AIIB, on the other hand, shows the West arriving en masse, clearly indifferent to their Sinophobia.
The 3/18 student movement subverted the political environment and political language on Taiwan. It silenced and immobilized certain political elements. For example, Su Tseng-chang was forced to eliminate himself from the ranks of the presidential nominees. It gave Tsai Ing-wen a burst of political momentum. The 2016 presidential nomination became hers for the taking. The blue camp, on the other hand, found itself beleaguered. The one person who should have gone into battle hung back. In fact, from a global perspective, the 3/18 student movement was merely a local weather condition confined to Taiwan. Its radius was limited to Taiwan, only a few hundred miles. By contrast, the AIIB represents a global current that except for North America, has swept five continents.
The 3/18 student movement was a violent reaction to the “rise of China". Unfortunately, instead of acknowledging it and analyzing it, the movement adopted a negative, closed-minded perspective. As a result, its frame of reference was flimsy and incoherent. It perceived Mainland China as a newly awakened sleeping lion, and the US as a unipolar global hegemon who could tame the beast. The 3/18 student movement concluded that United States backing was ambiguous. Therefore preemptive measures could keep the Mainland relegated forever to the other side of the Strait.
Yet the British “defected to Asia” in March. This revealed the truth. US global power has shrunk. A quiet East Asian empire dormant for a century, has reappeared on the world stage. Not just China, but also India, have grand ambitions. The AIIB reveals the student movement's wishful thinking about the global situation.
The 3/18 student movement was not entirely without contributions. It called for new civic values and new generational ideals. Unfortunately for Taiwan's future, uninformed youths assumed they had all the answers. In fact, the "defected to Asia" phenomenon shows that the US-centric global power structure is disintegrating. It also shows that unipolar power cannot fulfill the pipe dreams of the Sunflower Student movement.
Western scholars have long predicted a new world power spectrum. One year ago, US and UK scholars in international relations Simon Reich and Richard Ned Lebow published “Goodbye Hegemony: Power and Influence in the Global System”. They predicted that Europe would set the global rules and norms, that China would stabilize the global economy, and the United States would provide military security. The world would no longer be dominated by the United States on all global issues.
Among these, the prediction that "China would stabilize the global economy" was confirmed by the "invest in Asia" phenomenon: The US is no longer the engine of the world economy. For years, multi-national autonomous division of labor viewed US consumers as its final destination. But earned foreign exchange purchased US bonds, enabling the US to consume beyond its means. This played a major role in the global financial tsunami. Now, urgently needed Asian infrastructure investment has begun to attract the attention of other countries. They see it as a source for lost momentum in the new global economy.
This trend makes the Japanese extremely anxious. As a staunch US ally, Japan has yet to join the AIIB. I has instead accelerated TPP negotiations with the United States. But Abe has repeatedly asked to meet with Xi Jinping. The two met finally in Jakarta, and held the longest meeting between them since the two took office. Abe announced that Japan too would consider joining the AIIB.
The 3/18 student movement spewed anti-Mainland venom. It was truly incomprehensible. If the students think opposition to the Mainland is the answer, they are spouting nonsense. What is needed is cross-Strait economic and trade relations that break the monopoly held by a minority of business and political groups. A new role must be found for Taiwan within Mainland China's changing global position. If Taiwan resists the Mainland, it will be marginalized the world over. Tsai Ing-wen thinks she received a shot in the arm from the student movement. In fact holding such a view forfeits the principle of leadership, whereby a leader leads the masses. She bobs and weaves while reassuring us that she wants to "maintain the cross-Strait status quo". In fact she knows the situation has changed, but she remains trapped within the old framework.
The 3/18 local weather condition may be enough to put Tsai Ing-wen on the throne. But the AIIB macro level climate will make it impossible for Tsai Ing-wen to govern. The key to the AIIB remains the 1992 consensus. The 1992 consensus is the elephant in the room. Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP cannot pretend it does not exist. We on Taiwan must distinguish between local weather conditions and macro level climate change, and choose accordingly. Historic opportunities always arrive silently. Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwan society must engage in humble self-introspection.
但三月歐洲諸國倒戈，卻彷彿一齣「投奔亞洲」的劇碼。 這場演出或可名之為「投亞事件」， 它不只反映了全球權力格局及投資重心的遷移變化， 也映照了台灣現下的「反中」、「仇中」氛圍的突兀與失時。
兩者相隔恰恰一年，卻是兩種截然不同的政治想像， 亦是兩種政治形勢的擺盪與撞擊，更像一次左右對話：「 三一八學運」吹起反中號角，企圖在海峽兩岸割開更深的阻隔；「 亞投行」卻描繪西方諸強歡欣奔來，反中似乎大昧於形勢。
逼使各路人馬噤聲止步。例如， 蘇貞昌不得不黯然退出總統爭雄行列，它拱出了蔡英文超高聲勢， 二○一六於她幾如探囊取物；藍營則是風雨如晦， 應披掛上陣的卻躑躅再三。事實上，放在全球的格局上看，「 三一八學運」不過是台灣內部的小氣旋， 其暴風半徑僅及台灣方圓數百里；相形之下，「亞投行」 卻是全球性的風潮，除了北美，席捲了五個大陸。
它選擇從否定、閉鎖的角度出發，而不是選擇剖析和面對。 在這種情況下，它的思考框架顯得單薄與脫節： 即認為中國只是一隻剛甦醒的睡獅， 而美國的單極全球霸權足以馴服這頭野獸。亦即， 它以為可在美國若即若離的撐腰下，只要及早構置法規障礙， 即可將中國大陸永遠摒於海峽彼岸。
宣告了世界權力版圖已經變遷的現實， 東方沉寂逾百年的古老帝國已以新的面貌崛興於世，不只是中國， 印度亦雄心勃勃。如果說，「投亞事件」是對「三一八學運」 全球形勢認知偏差的一次匡正，並不為過。
然而，對於台灣未來的歸趨，它卻以年輕氣盛強作解人。事實上，「 投亞事件」折射了以美國為中心的全球權力構圖正在崩解， 同時也宣告單極權力圖像已無力支撐太陽花一廂情願的政治想像。
一年多前美英國際關係學者雷奇與勒博合著的《再見霸權： 全球系統裡的權力與影響》一書，即預言地球將以「 歐洲主導全球制度規範」、「中國穩定全球經濟」、與「 美國提供軍事安全保障」的三大支柱體系前行， 不再由美國主宰所有全球性事務。
美國不再是驅動世界經濟的引擎，多年以來透過多國自主分工， 以美國市場為產品最終消費去處， 但所賺取的外匯卻又購買美國債券，讓美國持續消費的模式， 在金融海嘯中禍殃全球的問題不輕。此際， 亞洲亟待部署的基礎建設開始受到各國的注目， 認為可以供輸全球新的經濟動力。
日本雖未加入投亞行列，甚至加快步履與美國展開ＴＰＰ談判， 但安倍晉三不斷求見習近平， 終於在雅加達舉行了兩人上任後最長的一次會面， 而安倍也宣示將思考加入亞投行。
若以為「反」就是解答，卻大謬不然。真正要做的， 是重新梳理兩岸經貿關係，破除少數政商集團壟斷兩岸交流利益， 並設法找到台灣在中國全球戰略位置變化中的新角色和利基， 台灣才不會因抗拒面對中國而遭到世界邊緣化。 汲取了學運能量的蔡英文，在此其實完全缺乏領先群眾的觀點， 她躲躲閃閃地宣稱要「維持兩岸現狀」， 其實是認知上察覺外在形勢已變，但行動上卻跳不出舊有框架。
卻勢必讓蔡英文的治理難以為繼。打開亞投行的鑰匙，仍在「 九二共識」；「九二共識」依然站在蔡英文與民進黨的前方， 讓他們無從迴避。而台灣，也必須辨明小氣旋與大氣候的區別， 並作出抉擇。歷史的機遇總是靜默而來， 蔡英文與台灣社會都須謙卑地向內心探問。