United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 5, 2015
Executive Summary: Mainland China and South Korea have signed a free trade agreement. Taiwan meanwhile has closed itself off to the outside world in the name of democracy. It does not realize it is now sitting at the bottom of the lake. South Korea and Taiwan were once coequals among the Asian Tigers. Now Taiwan is no longer in the same league as South Korea. It is likely to fall even further behind in the future.
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Mainland China and South Korea have signed a free trade agreement. Taiwan meanwhile has closed itself off to the outside world in the name of democracy. It does not realize it is now sitting at the bottom of the lake. South Korea and Taiwan were once coequals among the Asian Tigers. Now Taiwan is no longer in the same league as South Korea. It is likely to fall even further behind in the future.
Five years ago in Chongqing, Taipei and Beijing signed ECFA in Chongqing. The South Korean media, terrified of falling behind, coined the term "ChiWan" to describe the cross-Strait economic alliance created by ECFA. It viewed ECFA as an unimaginable threat. Driven by anxiety, South Korea rushed to catch up. Three months later, Mainland China and South Korea held their first FTA working session. Over the next four years, they held 14 talks. Recently they signed the current FTA, the most comprehensive and largest scale FTA in terms of bilateral trade volume so far.
Taiwan meanwhile, has changed from hare to tortise. Ruling vs. opposition party political confrontation has led to irrational economic barriers to Taiwan's policy of economic coopetition. First, the green camp demanded a line item review of the STA. Then it called for outright opposition to the STA. In fact it was motivated by Sunflower Student Movement hatred for Mainland China. Ultimately the green camp demanded Berlin Wall-like Cross-Strait Agreement Oversight Regulations. The PRC-ROK FTA will soon go into effect. Five years ago "Chiwan" caused South Korea many sleepless nights. Today, it has been relegated to slim pickings from the "early harvest list".
The Sunflower Student Movement transformed blue vs. green confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties. It forced Taiwan's economy into winter hibernation. In fact, all policy-making has been permanently frozen. The only realm that remains unhindered is populist democracy. Populist democracy is now de rigeur. Buzzwords such as "people power" and "the peoples' choice" fill one's ears. Populism has seized the political high ground. Everything else is of little importance. The STA has been frozen. MTA negotiations stop then start. The FEPZ has been postponed indefinitely. The long-controversial Number Four Nuclear Power Plant has been mothballed as a result of Lin Yi-hsiung's hunger strike.
The first thing Tsai Ing-wen did during her visit to the US, was sing the praises of democracy, stressing this value shared by Taipei and Washington. This was her answer to the Sunflower Student Movement. She severed the economic umbilical cord across the Taiwan Strait, and adopted an attitude of hatred toward Mainland China. The Sunflower Student Movement trumpets democracy. But its championing of "democracy" is merely Taiwan independence extremism, motivated by Taiwanese ultranationalism, wrapped in the cloak of democracy. It is shot through with introversion, xenophobia, and intolerance. It mercilessly condemns, defames, and attacks anyone who dares dissent. Those who incite hatred of Mainland China cite social justice as their motivation, yet never even attempt to solve the problem.
Economic globalization will never march to the beat of "Taiwanese" political correctness. Global economic competition will never defer to "Taiwanese" definitions of ethnic and national identity. Ballots will never make wealth and goods flow in and out of Taiwan. FTAs, by contrast, will. They will catalyze economic transactions. Ballots may make Tsai Ing-wen president. But ballots will never resolve the political and economic contradictions between Taipei and Beijing. Tsai Ing-wen's election will only turn Taiwan into an economic wasteland.
Mainland China's trade volume with South Korea last year reached 290.5 billion USD. Mainland China's trade volume with Japan reached 312.4 billion USD, a mere 20 billion less. Cross-Strait trade volume, by contrast, was only 198.3 billion USD, billions less than with South Korea, Once the PRC-ROK FTA goes into effect, PRC-ROK trade may reach 400 billion USD within five years. This would leapfrog Japan, and leave Taiwan far behind, solely because Taiwan insists on running in place .
The PRC-ROK FTA is not limited to tariffs. It also covers industrial cooperation in many fields. Beijing has a "China 2025" plan. Last year Germany published its "Sino-German Cooperation Plan of Action: Joint Innovation". It includes "Manufacturing 4.0", by which to obtain revolutionary technology. The upgrade of other traditional industries may be achieved through mass production and cooperation with South Korea, especially in ten key areas of "new generation information and communications technology industries". The two sides can cooperate in many ways.
Mainland China continues its rise. It is a manufacturing country turning into a manufacturing superpower. How can Taiwan possibly be so obtuse as to march down a blind alley? Tsai Ing-wen's choices are increasingly clear. Four years ago she still assumed she could blindly rely on the United States. All she had to do was grovel. She would then be allowed to join the TPP, even while rejecting trade relations with the world's number one trading partner.
Taiwan has reached a fork in the road. One path is based on ethnic and national identity. The other on economic principles. The former is illusory. The latter is real. Which path will Taiwan take? Before they decide, people must return to reason, demand genuine democracy, and think clearly.
台灣以民主為名的閉關自守風潮，卻不知伊於胡底。 韓國與台灣的經濟，從當年的「四小龍」逐漸走向不同量級， 往後的分殊恐怕會更嚴重。
深恐落後的韓國媒體發明了ChiWan一詞， 形容兩岸因ＥＣＦＡ而結成的經濟同盟關係， 將對該國造成難以想像的威脅。在憂慮的驅使下，韓國急起直追， 三個月後，中韓便舉行了自由貿易協定（ＦＴＡ）的首次工作會議。 此後四年多，兩國進行十四輪談判， 最近終於簽署了這紙對大陸而言迄今覆蓋領域最廣、 雙邊貿易額最大的自由貿易協定。
由於朝野在政治上的對峙， 台灣的兩岸經濟競合之路一再出現非理性的障礙， 先是對兩岸服貿協議要求逐條審查，接著爆發了以「反服貿」為名， 實則是以仇中為底蘊的太陽花學運，最終並設下了「 兩岸協議監督條例」這堵高牆。而今，韓中ＦＴＡ馬上就要生效， 而五年前令韓國夜不成眠的ChiWan，至今還只能撮取「 早收清單」的蠅頭小利。
使台灣經濟進入了一個冬蟄階段；說透徹些， 其實是所有領域的決策同時進入了凍土期。 唯一在國家空間裡暢行無阻的，是民粹式的民主。 公民民主儼然成了一種高調的時尚，人民力量、 公民決策之類的詞彙充斥公共場域，由於政治高地皆被民粹占領， 其餘的事務都變得毫不重要。不僅服貿被打入冷宮， 兩岸貨貿談判走走停停，自由經濟示範區被無限期攔阻， 而爭議已久的核四則因林義雄的一人絕食而黯然封存打包。
這無非是在回應太陽花的精神脈絡：不惜割斷兩岸經濟臍帶， 也要堅持仇中排中的立場。然而， 太陽花呼喊的民主並不是真正的民主， 而是與台灣國族主義互為表裡的急獨同義詞；它包裹著民主的外衣， 卻充滿內向、排外和不包容的色彩，對不同主張者毫不留情地譴責、 詆毀和攻擊。最大的問題是，仇中邏輯利用了分配不正義為藉口， 卻從未試圖解答這個問題。
全球經濟競爭更不會為台灣的國族信仰而轉彎。 選票無法使財貨流動，ＦＴＡ卻會催化交易的熱情。 蔡英文可能被選票推上總統大位， 但若不能解開其兩岸論述的政經矛盾，她將把台灣帶上荒蕪之境。
與中日的三一二四億美元相比，僅少了二百億美元。 而兩岸貿易額則僅為一九八三億美元，與中韓相較， 已有千億美元的差距。中韓ＦＴＡ生效後， 韓方樂觀推估雙方貿易額可在五年內躍升到四千億美元； 不僅將一舉超越日本，並可能把我國遠遠拋在後頭， 只因為台灣仍困在原地徘徊。
中共正在擘畫「中國製造二○二五」，除了藉去年與德國發表《 中德合作行動綱要：共塑創新》，將「製造４．０」 納入合作項目以取得革命性科技外， 其餘的傳產升級即可大量透過與韓國的合作達成， 尤其是十大重點領域中的「新一代資訊通信技術產業」， 雙方可以著力之處甚多。
將要從製造大國打造為製造強國的關鍵時期， 台灣豈可再走向閉關自守的窮巷？蔡英文的選擇， 從其言談已愈發清晰，一如四年前，她仍以為可以一味依賴美國， 卑躬屈膝地表態欲加入ＴＰＰ， 卻排斥與第一大貿易夥伴之間的貿易關係。