China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 15, 2016
Executive Summary: We have no intention of being alarmist. Taiwan does not lack competitive advantages. But we cannot draw lines around ourselves. We cannot assume that we are the center of the world, and that others must revolve around us. The Ma administration used stable cross-Strait relations to engage in pragmatic international diplomacy. The new government turns a blind eye to this. The upstart green regime seems convinced that recognizing the Republic of China constitutional framework was a generous concession, and that the 1992 Consensus is merely a bargaining chip. It assumes it can deal with international issues using domestic political tricks. It will soon learn this is not the case.
Full Text Below:
The nine day Chinese New Year holiday has ended. The rescue effort at the collapsed Weiguan Jinlong housing complex has concluded. Disaster relief and assignment of responsibility have now begun. Nature is ruthless. Man is compassionate. During the rescue all eyes were focused on the earthquake in southern Taiwan. "We were all citizens of Tainan". Every life that was saved, touched the hearts of all 23 million people on Taiwan. Everyone who took part in the search and rescue effort, including emergency medical technicians and volunteers, earned the peoples' admiration.
But the world did not stop turning merely because we experienced a disaster. The world outside continued to change and affect our destiny. Perhaps now is an appropriate time to turn our attention to the world outside Taiwan, especially the political and economic struggles swirling in Taiwan's immediate vicinity. These have never ceased, and are highly detrimental to Taiwan's future. Yet the public on Taiwan remains completely oblivious.
During the brief holiday, North Korea conducted surprise nuclear tests and missile launches. South Korea responded by closing down the Kaesong Industrial Zone jointly operated by the two Koreas. Washington and Seoul seized the opportunity to consult on the Sad anti-missile system, provoking a fierce reaction from Beijing. The US Federal Reserve System warned that the global economy will be plunged into a new recession. Europe and Japan continue to show negative interest rates, hurting banking industry profits. The value of the US Dollar, as well as prices for oil and other raw materials continued to fall. Investors are losing confidence. Stock markets are plunging the world over. Both changes affect the international political and economic picture. Neither is good news for Taiwan.
One bit of news impacts Taiwan directly. Susan A. Thornton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Asian-Pacific Affairs, spoke to the US Congress. She said Tsai Ing-wen reiterated her intention to maintain the status quo, and acknowledged her obligation to maintain peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations. She said Tsai Ing-wen intend to cooperate with Beijing, and would attempt to deal with cross-Strait relations in the same manner as Ma Ying-jeou. Thornton said that when Secretary of State John Kerry met with Mainland President Xi Jinping in Beijing late last month, he expressed a strong desire to see stable cross-Strait exchanges continue. Mainland officials however, said they first needed to hear what Tsai Ing-wen had to say.
On the surface, the holiday message from Washington contained little of substance. But Washington took the initiative to talk with both Tsai Ing-wen and Xi Jinping. This was unusual. As we all know, Tsai has stressed repeatedly that she hopes to "maintain the status quo". Beijing however, has told Tsai Ing-wen it is still waiting for an unequivocal answer. As several Mainland academics have put it, "The ball is in the DPP's court". The situation is crystal clear. Tsai Ing-wen must recognize the 1992 Consensus or an acceptable alternative. For Beijing, the 1992 Consensus, or "both sides are part of one China" was the basis for cross-Strait interaction over the past eight years. If the new government makes clear its refusal to recognize this, then nothing else will matter. Disingenuous sophistry such as "seeking common ground while shelving differences", "the spirit of 1992", or "historical fact" will be considered unilaterally changing the status quo. Once the one China premise is gone, cross-Strait relations will revert to what they were eight years ago. They will, at the very least, remain uncertain for a very long time.
If the political and economic situation in the world, particularly East Asia, was stable, a little uncertainty in cross-Strait relations would not be so serious. But it is not, therefore everyone is at risk. The confrontation on the Korean Peninsula has escalated. Some predict the emergence of a “New Cold War". That may sound alarmist. But given the history of the Korean peninsula, Taiwan cannot remain aloof. And we have yet to mention the South China Sea, where disputes have intensified, and where Taiwan has even less chance of remaining apart. In this complex Great Game of Nations, any misstep by Taiwan will result in catastrophe.
Even more troubling is global financial and stock market risk, as well as larger scale international economic competition. This competition is just as brutal. Earlier this month, the trade ministers of 12 nations finally met in Atlanta to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Taiwan expressed a willingness to participate. But was stopped by the US pork imports issue. A short term breakthrough is unlikely. Meanwhile, economic integration in East Asia is being led by the Mainland. Southeast Asia, Australia, and South Korea have signed one free trade agreement (FTA) after another. FTA negotiations between the Mainland and Japan are also ongoing. The comparative advantages of regional trade have impacted Taiwan. Taiwan is plagued by political turmoil. The Cross-Strait Oversight Regulations face a long legislative process. The fate of follow-up agreements to ECFA, the STA, and the MTA also remains uncertain. Taiwan cannot join the already started AIIB. Put bluntly, Taiwan has been shut out of several waves of East Asian economic integration. Once the global economy recovers, the rules of the game will be unfavorable to Taiwan. Our competitiveness will probably fall to new lows.
We have no intention of being alarmist. Taiwan does not lack competitive advantages. But we cannot draw lines around ourselves. We cannot assume that we are the center of the world, and that others must revolve around us. The Ma administration used stable cross-Strait relations to engage in pragmatic international diplomacy. The new government turns a blind eye to this. The upstart green regime seems convinced that recognizing the Republic of China constitutional framework was a generous concession, and that the 1992 Consensus is merely a bargaining chip. It assumes it can deal with international issues using domestic political tricks. It will soon learn this is not the case.
救災進入善後與究責階段，蒼天無情，人間有愛， 搶救階段全台目光幾乎都鎖定南台大地震，「我們都是台南人」， 每個生命的折損與獲救都牽動台灣2300萬人的心， 每一個在現場的搜救、醫護人員與義工都讓人感佩。
並影響你我的命運。現在或許是一個恰當的時機， 讓我們把目光轉向台灣四周，關注一下世局， 特別是台灣周遭的政經博弈，一刻都未停止， 而且都朝對台灣不利的方向發展。但台灣的主流思維， 似乎並不在意這種發展。
射飛彈，導致南韓關閉兩韓合作的開城工業區，美、韓順勢啟動「 薩德」反飛彈系統協商議程，激起北京激烈的反應。另一方面， 美國聯準會警告全球將陷入新一波的經濟風險，歐洲、 日本相繼實施負利率影響銀行業獲利，加上美元下跌、 油價等原物料價格續跌等因素，各國投資人信心脆弱， 全球股市都慘跌。這兩個涉及國際政治與經濟的變局， 對台灣都不是好消息。
則是美國國務院亞太副助理國務卿董雲裳日前在國會眾院聽證會上指 出，蔡英文曾向美方重申會持續維持現狀， 也了解持續追求讓兩岸關係和平穩定的義務；同時， 蔡英文打算和北京當局合作，試著持續馬英九處理兩岸關係的方式。 董雲裳同時也提及， 國務卿凱瑞於上個月底在北京會晤大陸國家主席習近平時， 曾強烈表達希望見到兩岸穩定與交流持續下去；中方官員則表示， 要看看蔡英文就此會提出什麼建議。
所傳遞的實質內涵並不多， 但美方會主動將其與蔡英文及習近平的對話內容對外公布， 還是有其不尋常的暗示與提醒。國人都清楚， 蔡英文曾不只一次強調會「維持現狀」，北京卻繼續重申， 還在等待蔡英文如何表態，正如許多大陸學者明示「 球在民進黨手上」。其中關鍵很清楚， 就是蔡英文究竟還承不承認九二共識，或有其他可接受的替代方案。 對北京當局而言，「九二共識」或「兩岸同屬一中」，是過去8年兩 岸互動交流的基礎，一旦新政府表明不承認，無論「求同存異」、「 九二精神」、「歷史事實」之類的修辭遊戲，對北京而言， 無疑就是片面的「改變現狀」，一旦一中的前提不復存在， 兩岸關係就算不會倒回到8年前， 恐怕也會陷入一段很長期的不確定階段。
台灣處在兩岸關係不確定的風險中，或許還有些許自主遊走的空間， 但目前的全球乃至東亞，全都處在不確定風險中。 朝鮮半島形勢激化，有論者預言「新冷戰」將復燃， 雖說有些危言聳聽，但證諸歷史只要朝鮮半島出狀況， 台灣從來都不可能完全置身事外，更不必說已經激化的南海爭議， 台灣更是無所逃於天地之間，在這場複雜的大國博弈中， 台灣走錯任何一步，都會陷入進退失據的境地。
還有一場更大規模的國際經濟賽局，這場賽局同樣殘酷。 趕在年前亦就是本月初，12國的貿易部長終於在美國亞特蘭大就「 跨太平洋夥伴協定」（TPP）達成協議， 台灣雖數度表達參與意願，卻卡在美豬議題上， 短期內要突破障礙恐不樂觀。與此同時， 以大陸為首的東亞經濟整合正逐漸發酵，繼東南亞之後， 中韓與中澳自由貿易協定（FTA）陸續洽簽完成，中日FTA談判 亦已端上檯面，區域貿易的比較優勢已經衝擊到台灣， 偏偏台灣因為政治紛擾，除了得面對「兩岸監督條例」 漫長立法進程，後續的服貿、 貨貿兩大協定的審查更是面臨高度不確定， 加上已經啟動的亞投行根本沒台灣玩的份，講得直白一些， 目前東亞刻正在緊密進行的幾波經濟整合賽局， 台灣全都被排除在外，嘗試想想，一旦全球景氣復甦， 台灣處在不利的遊戲規則下，競爭力恐怕還會再一路探底。
錯以為自己是世界的中心，別人都得繞著你轉， 馬政府藉由穩健的兩岸關係所打開的活路外交， 在新政府眼中彷彿不值一提，綠朝新貴們堅信， 承認中華民國憲政體制是最大讓步， 九二共識是一個可以討價還價的籌碼，將黨派立場凌駕國際觀思維， 恐將很快面臨嚴酷的考驗。