China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 6, 2015
Executive Summary: The Ma Xi summit will convene in Singapore this Saturday. As soon as the news emerged, DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen reacted swiftly. Her tone was low-key. She refrained from inciting anti-Mainland sentiment. DPP candidates refrained from mobilizing mass protests or sieges of the Presidential Palace. Nevertheless Tsai Ing-wen failed to behave in a manner befitting a national leader. The DPP once again reverted to form, and hurled ideologically motivated accusations of “black box” decision-making. It once again alleged that “Taiwan's democracy will be undermined!”
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The Ma Xi summit will convene in Singapore this Saturday. As soon as the news emerged, DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen reacted swiftly. Her tone was low-key. She refrained from inciting anti-Mainland sentiment. DPP candidates refrained from mobilizing mass protests or sieges of the Presidential Palace. Nevertheless Tsai Ing-wen failed to behave in a manner befitting a national leader. The DPP once again reverted to form, and hurled ideologically motivated accusations of “black box” decision-making. It once again alleged that “Taiwan's democracy will be undermined!”
Most world leaders are concerned about East Asia. Political and intellectual elites concur. The strategic picture in East and Southeast Asia is turbulent, chaotic, and indeterminate. The Ma Xi summit may play an important role in cross-Strait peace. It is sure to become an important page in cross-Strait, even East Asian history. It provides a visible benchmark for peace in the Taiwan Strait and East Asia. Never mind the rest. The mere image of leaders from the two sides meeting and shaking hands reeks with historical significance. After all, the two sides have been separated for 66 years. Their leaders have finally reached the point where they can talk and shake hands. Think of all the twists and turns that came before. Think of the wisdom and effort required to bring us to this point. No wonder the global media considers this event so significant.
If Tsai Ing-wen becomes ROC president, the Ma Xi summit presents her with a highly advantageous, historic opportunity. After all, this meeting of leaders is the most difficult step. It will enable her to follow in Ma's footsteps and eventually go beyond. Tsai Ing-wen must now transcend blue vs. green. She must cease answering only to the Democratic Progressive Party. As Tsai Ing-wen herself said, the Republic of China is not synonymous with the KMT, and Taiwan is not synonymous with the DPP.
Sad to say, Tsai Ing-wen has failed to transcend her limitations. She persists in playing word games with terms such as "the people" and “the citizenry”. She is attempting to equate herself with "the people" and “the citizenry”. She is back to her old habits. These enable Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP to puff up their chests and indiscriminately reject any and all Ma government policies. They must realize that no matter how low President Ma's approval ratings have fallen, he remains a president elected by a majority of the people. He is fully authorized to implement his philosophy and his policies. The Ma Xi summit realizes an important plank in Ma's cross-Strait peace policy. Tsai Ing-wen has yet again reverted to the same tired rhetoric. By doing so, she has reneged on her pledge to make positive changes to her cross-Strait policy.
Those who arranged the Ma Xi summit emphasize that the two men are meeting as leaders of each side. They will address each other as "Mister". They will discuss no politics. They will engage in no negotiations. They will sign no agreements. They will issue no statements. They will make no private commitments. In other words, the Ma Xi summit on Saturday will be symbolic in nature. It will at most firm up the consensus between leaders from the two sides. By all accounts it will be consistent with Tsai's call for "equal dignity", "openness and transparency", and "apolitical nature". Furthermore, President Ma has publicly promised to report to the Legislative Yuan afterwards. Does this not consistute public and legislative oversight? Therefore, just exactly is Tsai Ing-wen's complaint?
Tsai Ing-wen's final remark reveals the true source of her inner anxiety. She said, "Taiwan is currently in the middle of an election. This is a sensitive time. Was the choice to convene a Ma Xi summit at this time intended to influence the election? The public has its suspicions." So this is what has Tsai in a tizzy. Tsai Ing-wen's real concern is that the Ma Xi summit will influence the presidential election. This footnote essentially nullified everything Tsai Ing-wen trotted out earlier. The same is true of the reaction of several DPP county chiefs and city mayors. All of them saw the summit as nothing more than an election ploy.
What's interesting is that Tsai Ing-wen considers herself a representative of "the people" and "the citizenry". If she really believes "the people" and "the citizenry" are offended by the Ma Xi summit, won't their reaction help her election prospects? Shouldn't she be delighted? Why wring her hands about any "attempts to influence the election"? If a single Ma Xi summit can influence the election, then which party needs to rethink its campaign platform? The KMT? Or the DPP? The results from a several live votes have been released. A majority of the public are happy to see a Ma Xi summit take place.
Let us not mince words. It is a widely held belief that the DPP cares only about winning elections, nothing else. This charge reveals Tsai Ing-wen's mindset more clearly than anything else. Since the election began, her cross-Strait policy platform has been one long tap dance. She has dodged every question asked her about the 1992 Consensus. She refuses to present any position whatsoever. Her irresponsible attitude has finally been outed by the Ma Xi summit. She has completely reverted to form. She has lost the moral high ground. She has unwittingly but clearly told "the people" and "the citizenry" that apart from winning the election, she cares about nothing else.
The Ma Xi summit held on Saturday will be an important moment in history. It will have positive repercussions for the future. At this critical juncture, Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP have left behind a record of their behavior. They have left behind damning insights into their character.