Can Tsai Ing-wen Escape the Washington Beijing Tokyo Net?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 22, 2016
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen has long been heavy on international relations and light on cross-Strait relations. She advocates using international relations to advance Taiwan independence, and eliminate economic dependence on the Mainland. This however denies DPP foreign policy the cross-Strait bargaining chip, and leads to a power imbalance. In order to join the TPP and link with Japan in the South China Sea, the DPP is likely to make huge concessions to Washington and Tokyo. If Tsai Ing-wen blindly panders to foreign powers while ignoring domestic public opinion, the government may repeat the mistakes of the Ma administration, and lose public support. In other words, the DPP may lose public support, due not to cross-Strait issues, but to the economic and psychological impact of international issues.
Full Text Below:
The DPP has not even had a chance to celebrate. Yet foreign dignitaries are already pounding on the door. Japan Exchange Association President Ohashi Mitsuo, and former US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns sought out Tsai Ing-wen. Nominally they came to congratulate her on her election victory. In fact they came to ascertain Tsai Ing-wen's diplomatic path and policy commitments to their governments. They also came to ascertain her stand on cross-Strait relations. The Japanese media made an even more direct appeal. It expressed the hope that Tsai Ing-wen would revise the KMT's “overly pro-Mainland policy”.
At the same time, Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office issued its first post-election statement. It urged Tsai Ing-wen to "continue adhering to the 1992 Consensus". Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun made reference to the provisions of the "Asian Infrastructure Investment Banking Agreement". He referred to Taiwan as “an applicant not entitled to sovereignty or unable to conduct its own international relations". Such applicants, he said, must obtain the consent of "bank members responsible for the conduct of international relations”. This tongue twister means that Taiwan's path to membership in the AIIB will be long and hard. The reason for the Mainland's hardline attitude, is of course, Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai Ing-wen may have been too equivocal on cross-Strait policy in the run up to the election. She may have left too much to Washington and Tokyo's imagination. Washington believes that Tsai Ing-wen's refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus was election rhetoric, and that following the election there would be room to maneuver. Therefore, Burns's trip is intended to ensure that Tsai Ing-wen will not cavalierly stir up trouble on cross-Strait issues, thereby adding to Washington's headaches. When Chen Shui-bian took office, Washington reined him in the same way. By contrast, Tokyo believes that Tsai Ing-wen will substantially revise Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait policy, giving Tokyo greater room to maneuver. The purpose of Ohashi Mitsuo's visit is mainly to explore the possibility of future alliances with Taiwan against the Mainland.
It is foreseeable that Washington's anxiety and Tokyo's delight, result from different readings of Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy. Both are exerting pressure upon the DPP. The tug of war between Washington and Tokyo, along with powerful pressure from Beijing, has changed DPP foreign policy. These changes in foreign policy may increase DPP difficulty with domestic rule.
On the other hand, prior to the election, Tsai Ing-wen made several overly explicit promises. Washington and Tokyo now have overly high expectations. Washington expects that in exchange for TPP membership, the DPP will allow the importation of pork products containing ractopamine into Taiwan, using the same standards as Japan and South Korea. Japan's Abe expects a congenitally anti-China Tsai Ing-wen and DPP to lift the embargo on foodstuffs produced in five counties in the Fukushima disaster area in exchange for a Taiwan-Japan FTA. Ohashi Mitsuo may therefore treat food regulation as an index of whether the DPP values its commitments to Tokyo.
Washington and Tokyo fully expect Tsai Ing-wen to honor her commitments on US pork imports and Japanese foodstuffs. But their expectations are not necessarily in line with public opinion on Taiwan. Any shortfall will leave Tsai Ing-wen between a rock and a hard place, between foreign pressure and domestic opinion. Can Tsai Ing-wen mollify public opinion? That is a thorny issue that Tsai Ing-wen will have to face.
Nor is that all. The East Asian regional conflict between Washington and Beijing is expanding. Tokyo has increased its presence in the South China Sea. Washington and Tokyo want Taipei to take sides. They also want to influence cross-Strait relations. Tsai Ing-wen may not be as reckless as Chen Shui-bian. She may not wage "diplomatic war" and demand a "referendum on UN membership" in order to sabotage cross-Straits relations. But Tsai Ing-wen's desire to “ally with Japan to oppose the Mainland”, as well as her collusion with the US in the South China Sea, may jeopardize cross-Strait trust and stability. In other words, the biggest variable affecting cross-Strait relations under Tsai Ing-wen, may not be domestic politics, but international relations.
Tsai Ing-wen has long been heavy on international relations and light on cross-Strait relations. She advocates using international relations to advance Taiwan independence, and eliminate economic dependence on the Mainland. This however denies DPP foreign policy the cross-Strait bargaining chip, and leads to a power imbalance. In order to join the TPP and link with Japan in the South China Sea, the DPP is likely to make huge concessions to Washington and Tokyo. If Tsai Ing-wen blindly panders to foreign powers while ignoring domestic public opinion, the government may repeat the mistakes of the Ma administration, and lose public support. In other words, the DPP may lose public support, due not to cross-Strait issues, but to the economic and psychological impact of international issues.
The Democratic Progressive Party will find itself facing a vast net, consisting of Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, and public opinion on Taiwan. It will find itself pulled apart by these four forces. Tsai Ing-wen faces an enormous challenge. If she is not careful, she will find herself immobilized. In fact, this vast net was spun by none other than the DPP. It must "maintain the status quo" while simultaneously allying itself with Washington and Tokyo against Beijing. This mindset and others, created this web.
2016-01-22 02:15 聯合報 聯合報社論
與 此同時，北京國台辦在選後第一時間發表聲明，以「繼續堅持九二共識」向蔡英文喊話。亞投行行長金立群則搬出「亞投行協定」條文，稱我國為「不享有主權或無 法對自身國際關係行為負責的申請方」，因此入會事宜應該由「對其國際關係行為負責的銀行成員」同意或代為申請。這串繞口令，將台灣加入亞投行之路變得又硬 又冷。這種態度，當然也是針對蔡英文而來。
也許是蔡英文選前在兩岸政策上表達得太過曖昧，這讓美日兩國出現不同的政治想像。美國認為，不 承認「九二共識」只是蔡英文的選舉語言，選後應有轉圜空間；因此，伯恩斯此行旨在確保蔡英文在兩岸議題上不會輕率躁動，以免增添美國的麻煩，就如當年陳水 扁甫上台時美國即時給予節制一樣。相形之下，日本則認為，蔡英文的兩岸政策將大幅修正馬英九的路線，使日本在對中政策上享有更大的操作空間；因此，大橋此 行主要是試探未來「聯台抗中」的可能性。
從 另一方面看，蔡英文選前也許因為在若干議題上作出太具體的表態，以致讓美日兩國產生高度的預期心理。美方的期待是，民進黨為了達成加入ＴＰＰ的目標，未來 勢將比照日韓標準開放瘦肉精美豬進口。日方則認為，安倍與蔡英文同樣具有反中的天然基因，民進黨上台之後必定會解除福島災區五縣的食品管制，以交換《台日 自由貿易協定》的簽署；也因此，大橋此行可能把解除日本食品管制議題當成檢視民進黨是否重視對日承諾的指標。
不難看出，在開放美豬及日本 食品的議題上，美日兩國對於蔡英文履行其政策承諾的意願都懷有高度的期待；但這些期待，卻未必與台灣內部的民意潮流吻合。其間的落差，將讓蔡英文在執政 後，在外國壓力及國內民意下出現進退失據的兩難局面。如何撫平國內民意的強大反作用力，將是蔡英文上台後必須面對的棘手問題。
不僅如此， 美中在東亞區域衝突的擴大，以及日本在南海角色的日益吃重，都讓美日兩國更急於爭取台灣的政治表態，也讓它們在兩岸關係上的操作空間變大。蔡英文執政後， 也許不像陳水扁一樣率爾以「烽火外交」及「入聯公投」等作為破壞兩岸關係；但是，蔡英文「聯日抗中」的思維，以及在南海政策上可能與美國聯手合作，卻可能 危及兩岸既有的互信及穩定。亦即，蔡英文上台後，影響兩岸關係的最大變數，未必在國內政治，而是在國際議題上。
蔡英文一向重國際、輕兩 岸，主張從世界走向台灣，以擺脫對大陸的經濟依賴，這將使民進黨在對外政策上少了兩岸關係的這項籌碼，以致失衡傾側。民進黨執政後，為了要進入ＴＰＰ並與 日本攜手南向，其政策走向極可能高度遷就美日。若蔡英文一味地迎合國際，而忽視國內民意，難保不會重蹈馬政府的覆轍，失去民意支持。亦即，未來衝擊民進黨 民意支持度的因素，未必在兩岸，而在國際問題及其引發的經濟效應及心理感受上。
可以預見，執政後的民進黨要面對一張巨大的網，那是由美 國、日本、中國大陸及國內民意四方所交織而成的一張大網，這四股力量之間的拉扯、角力，將構成蔡英文的鉅大挑戰，若不審慎以對，將難以動彈。然而，構築這 張巨網的始作俑者，其實正是民進黨自己，是它既要「維持現狀」又要「聯美日抗中」等思維不斷吐絲交纏的結果。