China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 22, 2015
Executive Summary: The cross-Strait card has long been the Kuomintang's trump card. But this time it has been utterly ineffective. The historic Ma Xi summit last month should have been the KMT's trump card. Yet it had little if any effect. What's even more frustrating, Tsai Ing-wen refuses to budge on the 1992 Consensus. Yet her approval rating remains unchanged. Green camp voters are unafraid cross-Strait relations will be undermined. They do not think "the earth will move and the mountains will shake". Tsai Ing-wen lost before due to the cross-Strait card. So why isn't it working now?
Full Text Below:
The general election is entering its final stages. The largest blue and green parties finally have an opportunity to debate major issues. The cross-Strait card has long been the Kuomintang's trump card. But this time it has been utterly ineffective. The historic Ma Xi summit last month should have been the KMT's trump card. Yet it had little if any effect. What's even more frustrating, Tsai Ing-wen refuses to budge on the 1992 Consensus. Yet her approval rating remains unchanged. Green camp voters are unafraid cross-Strait relations will be undermined. They do not think "the earth will move and the mountains will shake". That is understandable. The blue camp has long played the cross-Strait "safety card". But this time even cautious voters appear unconcerned that the Democratic Progressive Party will lead Taiwan in the wrong direction. Tsai Ing-wen lost before due to the cross-Strait card. So why isn't it working now?
Cross-strait issues “lack heat” during this election for three reasons. One. Public opinion has shifted. Two. The DPP has changed its strategy. Three. The KMT has no idea how to fight back. Political, economic, social, environmental protection, and food safety issues have provoked public discontent. The stage has been set for ruling party change. The KMT has handled cross-Strait relations well. But precisely because cross-strait relations are so calm, the issue has been sidelined and considered irrelevant.
Secondly, the DPP has changed its strategy. It has succeeded in inciting anti-Mainland hatred among the public, particularly among young people. The cross-Strait policy card has gradually become a liability. Tsai Ing-wen's disingenuously ambiguous “maintaining the status quo” appeals to both ends of the political spectrum, and is a vote getter. Finally, the KMT has been a major disappointment. It has been expert at intraparty backbiting, but hopelessly amateurish at fighting the DPP. It has betrayed its ideals, lost public support, and destroyed itself from within.
Actually, as the strongest player in cross-Strait relations, the Mainland really ought to be the one playing the cross-Strait card. In 2012, Tsai Ing-wen lost during the home stretch on cross-Strait relations. This time however, the cross-Strait card has misfired, in part due to internal factors. But the more important reason is the Mainland. It apparently feels caught in a dilemma. It sent out strong signals, only to follow them up with moderate signals. Confusing signals led to confusion and loss of impact. Apparently the Mainland is uncertain how to respond in the event Tsai wins the election, comes to power, yet refuses to accept the 1992 consensus.
Should it use force against Taiwan, and resolve the Taiwan issue once and for all? Some Mainland hawks think so. They are happy to see Tsai Ing-wen come to power. But the Mainland's "anti-secession law" includes preconditions before force can be used against Taiwan. It permits force only if “Taiwan independence separatist forces using any pretext, in any fashion, cause Taiwan's secession from China, or incite a major incident that results in Taiwan's secession from China, or all means of peaceful reunification have been exhausted".
The problem is that after the anti-secession law went into force, the Chen regime openly resisted. It announced the termination of the National Unification Council and the National Unification Guidelines. It promoted the “four imperatives and one non-issue”. It demanded “membership in the United Nations under the name of Taiwan". Yet the Mainland did nothing to punish Chen Shui-bian. Tsai Ing-wen is ever cautious. She knows how to use the title “Republic of China” as a shield. As a result, the Democratic Progressive Party, if it returns to power, will not give the Mainland any pretext to use force against Taiwan. Therefore, using force against Taiwan is not the Mainland's preferred option.
If one cannot use force, how can one make “the earth move and the mountains shake”? Taiwan media organizations have speculated that the Mainland will first sever official relations between the MAC and the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, then poach ROC diplomatic allies, and finally repudiate several cross-Strait agreements that have already been concluded. One Mainland specialist on Taiwan, Wang Hailiang, made a prediction in the "China Review". He predicted "high level cross-Strait tensions, a moderate level of cross-Strait exchanges, and a low level of cross-Strait cooperation”. In the future, only a moderate level of cross-Strait exchanges will continue in private sector culture, education, science and technology, society, and industry. Only some of the 21 agreements signed by the two sides will be implemented. Others may be unsustainable. Overall, cross-Strait cooperation in the professional realm will be low level.”
The problem is that severing official cross-Strait exchanges, or even declaring diplomatic war to punish a pan green government, is not something that will be felt by the public. To ensure that the public feels the impact of sanctions, the Mainland must fundamentally change its policy of concessions to Taiwan. It must reduce or even end such concessions. But this runs directly counter to the Mainland's Taiwan policy. Therefore next year, once Tsai Ing-wen is safely ensconced in office, she will enjoy the powers of the presidency. She will even be the beneficiary of the peace dividend made possible by blue camp cross-Strait policy over the past seven years. The benefits may be cut, but she will continue receiving them. As a result, the solemn warnings issued by the Mainland to the DPP and its supporters have fallen on deaf ears. The DPP and its supporters may have even been emboldened. In a way, this is not hard to understand.
The first election debate is about to begin. Eric Chu may be tempted to play the cross-Strait policy card, to take the offensive by invoking cross-Strait policy, to underscore the benefits of KMT rule, and to launch new attack on the DPP. But unless he understands the shift in the political climate, he must not think in these terms. Tsai Ing-wen has chosen to pay lip service to the "Republic of China framework" as her cross-Strait bottom line. The KMT opposes a merger between UNIS and SPIL. Therefore the KMT cannot revive itself by playing the cross-Strait policy card. Both the Blue and Green parties are moving toward the middle. This has altered the political climate on Taiwan. It is now election season. Beijing, Taipei, the CCP, the KMT, and the DPP must all reevaluate their political paths, formulate clear policies, issue public statements, and enable the people to make their choice.
兩岸牌一向是國民黨強項，這次選舉完全失靈， 上個月進行的歷史性馬習會，本應成為國民黨的王牌，卻依然失效。 更令人沮喪的是，對九二共識死不鬆口的蔡英文， 支持率卻居高不下。綠營選民不怕兩岸關係「地動山搖」可以理解， 藍營與一向在兩岸議題選擇「安全牌」的謹慎型選民， 好像也不怎麼擔心民進黨會把台灣帶錯方向了。 曾經讓蔡英文輸掉最後一哩路的「兩岸牌」， 這回為什麼不顯靈了呢？
二是民進黨策略成功，三是國民黨無力出擊。在政治、經濟、社會、 環保與食安等內部議題上，這幾年民怨沸騰， 政黨輪替大環境已經形成。國民黨固然在兩岸關係上經營有術， 無奈正因為兩岸關係風平浪靜，這個議題反而靠邊站了。
特別是年輕人中成功煽動起了反中情緒，兩岸因素逐漸負面化。 含混的維持現狀倒是左右逢源，得到選舉市場的青睞。 最後則是國民黨「不爭氣」，內鬥內行、外鬥外行、離心離德、 自失民心、自毀長城。
的真正出牌手，2012年大選蔡英文就輸在兩岸議題的最後一哩路 。這次「兩岸牌」不顯靈，除了內政因素外， 更重要的原因恐怕是大陸出牌顯得進退失據，忽然釋出強硬訊號， 突然又出現溫和訊號，訊號混亂以致失去引導作用。 看來大陸對蔡英文如果真的勝選上台，卻仍然不接受九二共識時， 究竟該怎麼辦並無定論。
大陸一些鷹派正是從這個角度出發，對蔡英文上台「樂觀其成」。 但翻開《反分裂國家法》，對台動武有先決條件：「 台獨分裂勢力以任何名義、 任何方式造成台灣從中國分裂出去的事實， 或者發生將會導致台灣從中國分裂出去的重大事變， 或者和平統一的可能性完全喪失。」
先後宣布終止國統會和國統綱領、發表「四要一沒有」、提出「 以台灣名義加入聯合國」等等。即使如此， 陳水扁也不曾遭受來自大陸的滅頂之災，更何況是一貫謹言慎行、 擅用中華民國作擋箭牌的蔡英文。由此可見，民進黨一旦再次執政， 絕對不會給大陸提供動武的任何口實。因此， 對台動武不會是大陸的優先選項。
台灣媒體曾猜測， 大陸首先會中斷陸委會和國台辦之間的官方聯繫管道， 然後挖走台灣的邦交國，最後會考慮中斷兩岸已經達成的若干協議。 一位大陸涉台學者王海良在《中國評論》預言：「 兩岸之間會出現高度緊張、中度交流、低度合作的局面。 未來只能維持中低度的交流合作，如民間的文化、教育、科技、 社會、行業等交流合作，兩岸業已簽署的21項協定有些將得以繼續 實施，有的可能難以為繼。總體說來， 兩岸專業領域的合作將局限於低度合作。」
中斷兩岸官方交往甚至重啟兩岸外交戰最多是對政府部門的「懲罰」 ，民眾基本無感。要讓民眾有感，就必須在根本上改變惠台政策， 削減甚至取消對台讓利，但這與大陸對台的大政方針是背道而馳的。 因此，可以預見，明年蔡英文一旦上台，接收的不但是執政權， 還有兩岸關係過去7年多來和平發展的紅利， 雖然後者肯定要打點折扣。由此觀之， 民進黨及其支持者把大陸的嚴重警告當作耳邊風，甚至有恃無恐， 我行我素，也就不難理解了。
採取攻勢提出更多的兩岸政策亮點，以凸顯國民黨執政優勢， 並發動對民進黨的新一波進攻。但他如果理解政治生態的改變， 就不該做如是想，當蔡英文選擇「中華民國體制」 作為兩岸關係的底線、國民黨卻反對紫光併矽品， 國民黨就不可能靠兩岸牌起死回生。藍綠兩黨都往中間移動， 已改變了台灣的政治生態，兩岸也好，紅藍綠也罷，選戰關鍵時刻， 都該認真思考前方道路，提出明確政策，公開說請楚， 讓民眾做出選擇。