China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 5, 2016
Executive Summary: As matters stand, it is hard to be optimistic about cross-Strait relations under a Tsai Ing-wen administration. There appears to be little room for compromise between the CCP and DPP over the proposition that “The two sides of the Strait are both part of one China." Cross-Strait relations appear to be moving towards a Cold Peace or even Cold War. The result could be a downward spiral that leads back to a Chen Shui-bian era policy path.
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As matters stand, it is hard to be optimistic about cross-Strait relations under a Tsai Ing-wen administration. There appears to be little room for compromise between the CCP and DPP over the proposition that “The two sides of the Strait are both part of one China." Cross-Strait relations appear to be moving towards a Cold Peace or even Cold War. The result could be a downward spiral that leads back to a Chen Shui-bian era policy path.
History has shown that a policy of conflict is unfavorable to internal stability on Taiwan. It undermines Taipei-Washington relations. It reduces Taiwan to a problem requiring adult supervision by the US and the Mainland, leaving Taiwan without a shred of dignity. Tsai Ing-wen should have learned this lesson by now. Presumably that is why she chose to “refrain from provocations”. But is merely “refraining from provocations” enough to ensure Taiwan's best interests?
The answer involves two parts. One. Beijing may occasionally apply pressure to Taipei. It may make unilateral moves, such as changing the old Mainland Travel Permits to smart cards. The public on Taiwan may react negatively. Populist sentiment on both sides may escalate during international events. Netizens may clash online. When that happens, how will the Tsai government "refrain from provocations"? Two. Consider the long-term. Is time really on our side? Ten years from now, who will be stronger? Who will be weaker? Who will benefit from our procrastination while we wait idly by for change?
Rationally speaking, we cannot expect the Mainland to collapse and save Taiwan. The Mainland's economic strength and East Asian political influence will continue to grow for at least the next 10 years, while US influence will inevitably decline. The Mainland is too big. Taiwan is too small. Cross-Strait peace will benefit Taiwan. Cross-Strait conflict will make Taiwan suffer. This is the simple truth. Taiwan enjoys institutional advantages. Mainland institutional advantages will not take effect for at least 20 years.
The Mainland economy is slowing down. But the global economy remains dependent upon opportunities offered by Mainland growth. The cross-Strait economy involves a high degree of interdependency. For the time being, Taiwan cannot avoid the impact of the Mainland economy. It cannot forsake the opportunities for economic growth the Mainland economy offers. If Taiwan were to forsake the Mainland, it would not find an adequate substitute.
Taiwan must confront another issue within the next few years. The Mainland leadership is currently promoting economic development. But it too must answer to public opinion. Economic growth alone is not enough. It must honor its political commitments. It must act against corruption. It must implement a social welfare system. These are all in the background. Reunifying the nation is number one of the list of CCP political commitments. Ruling party and political climate change on Taiwan has not led the CCP to change its Taiwan policy. Therefore it must introduce new policies that appeal to the public on Taiwan.
Taiwan faces a dilemma. It wants to split from the Mainland, but cannot. The Mainland uses both the carrot and the stick. It is using both, more and more vigorously. Under the circumstances, the conservative strategy of evasion, of maintaining the status quo, is self-deception. Such delaying tactics may win applause from the public. But by the time the public realizes the seriousness of the problem, a far more serious political storm will be upon us.
Cross-Strait relations have reached a critical juncture. Tsai Ing-wen must ask herself what sort of cross-Strait relationship she expects in the future. Two alternatives present themselves. Alternative One: Taiwan's advantages gradually diminish. The Mainland eventually dominates the situation. Taiwan is reunified unceremoniously, without dignity. Alternative Two: Taiwan uses its existing strengths to expand westward onto the Mainland. It rewrites the rules of the game, only in its favor. Tsai Ing-wen must appreciate Taiwan's dilemma, and make what is clearly the better choice.
The DPP government must use its remaining bargaining chips to consult with the Mainland. It must discuss political relations. It must play to its strengths during the negotiation process. It must make the most favorable arrangements for its future. But will it?
In fact, several of Tsai Ing-wen's predecessors, including Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, and Ma Ying-jeou, all hoped to do precisely that. They hoped to put these cross-Strait policies into practice. Some were highly controversial. The impact of some was less than ideal. But they at least wanted Taiwan to have some say in its future. As it turns out, Tsai Ing-wen is the most conservative advocate of "maintaining the status quo". This is clear evidence of diminishing self-confidence. During the Lee and Chen administrations, Taiwan still enjoyed significant advantages over the Mainland. By the time of the Ma Ying-jeou administration, Taiwan's advantages were on the wane. Taiwan gradually lost its bargaining chips vis a vis the Mainland. The Mainland is growing stronger. Taiwan is growing weaker. The trend continues. Can Tsai Ing-wen bring herself to use Taiwan's remaining bargaining chips to negotiate with the mainland? If she cannot, she will find bargaining with the Mainland even harder in the future.
Evasion is no way to solve problems, especially when the other side continues to dial up the pressure. Evasion merely gives the other side a greater advantage. Tsai Ing-wen must change her cross-Strait policy. She must seize the initiative. She must create more space for Taiwan to develop. In her inaugural speech, she must indicate a willingness to dialogue or even negotiate with the Mainland. Under a Democratic Progressive Party administration, the public will not worry that it is being “sold out”. The negotiation process can be fully overseen by the public. Political negotiations would not lead to social unrest. The cross-Strait stalemate could suddenly be broken, ushering in a new era in Taiwan's political circumstances.
兩岸同屬一中」分歧點上，看不出有轉圜或妥協空間， 兩岸關係以走向「冷和」或「冷鬥爭」局面可能性最大， 萬一螺旋向下，不無可能重新回到陳水扁時代的鬥爭路線。
更會傷害台美關係，讓台灣淪為「美中共管」，無尊嚴地位。 蔡英文應該已經記取教訓，才會決定對大陸「不挑釁」，但只是「 不挑釁」就能維持、創造台灣的最大利益嗎？
一是當面對大陸的壓力測試或類似「換發卡式台胞證」 這類單向對台政策，尤其遭到民意反彈時， 或兩岸民粹力量在國際活動或網路世界發生衝突時， 蔡政府要如何做到「不挑釁」？二是更長期的思考， 時間究竟站在哪一方？10年後或更久誰會愈來愈強， 誰會愈來愈弱？「以拖待變」對誰有利？
無論就經濟成長潛力或東亞區域政治而言，至少未來10年， 大陸國力將繼續增強，美國影響力難免式微，而且大陸太大、 台灣太小，「兩岸和，台灣有好處；兩岸鬥，台灣要吃虧」， 這是非常淺顯的道理。台灣有制度優勢， 但制度優勢面對崛起的大陸，至少需要20年時間驗證才能產生優勢 效果。
但全球經濟仍舊依賴大陸成長帶來的新機會， 兩岸經濟高度相互依賴，在可以預期的一段時間內， 台灣不可能迴避大陸經濟的影響， 當然不應該放棄大陸帶動成長的利基， 捨棄大陸台灣也不可能找到其他有意義的替代選擇。
現在的大陸領導除了必須繼續推動經濟發展外， 還必須面對民意的檢驗。換句話說，光是經濟增長還不夠， 仍必須兌現政治承諾，轟轟烈烈反腐行動及諸多福利制度的推動， 皆在此大背景下產生。 實現國家統一是中共所有政治承諾中至為重要的一項， 因此即便看到台灣內部政黨輪替與政治氣候的變化， 卻不改對台政策既定方針，必須繼續推出各項政策吸引台灣民眾。
大陸的吸引力和壓力卻接踵而至，兩者相互深化。在這種情況下， 逃避和維持現狀的保守策略只是掩耳盜鈴的拖延行徑， 或許可以在內部民意高支持下贏得一時的喝采， 但當民眾意識到問題嚴重性時，更為嚴重的政治風浪就會襲來。
蔡英文應該重新思考未來到底要面對何種狀態的兩岸關係。 可能的結局包括：台灣優勢漸漸流逝，最終由大陸主導局勢， 台灣淪入「沒有尊嚴的統一」，或利用現有優勢西進大陸， 進而創造有利的遊戲規則。充分認識台灣現在所面對的大環境， 後者顯然是較佳選擇。
在兩岸問題上都有過企圖心，並曾付諸實踐， 雖然部分作法極具爭議，或者效果不夠理想， 但至少證明他們都希望在兩岸發展走向上，台灣能有自己的定義。 蔡英文卻以最保守的「維持現狀」規避壓力， 這不能不說是自信心的倒退。當然， 這與李扁時期台灣對比大陸還有巨大優勢， 馬英九時代台灣優勢漸漸減少， 與大陸應對進退的籌碼逐漸流失有關。 而彼長我消的趨勢仍進一步惡化， 如果蔡英文不能把握台灣僅存的籌碼與大陸展開協商， 後續可能更難有討價還價的能力。