Without the “China Factor”, How Will the KMT Rise Again?
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 26, 2016
Executive Summary: The KMT remains the key. It must not remain idle while individuals fight its battles. It must provide checks and balances against the ruling DPP. It must not start strong only to end weak. It must gather its forces, unify the party, allies, and the public, and together oppose the DPP's agenda of Sinophobia. It must seek out people of goodwill from both sides, and together promote peaceful cross-Strait relations.
Full Text Below:
Since January 16, virtually all attention has been focused on the DPP. Only then President Ma Ying-jeou, who visited numerous offshore islands, and still active then premier Chang San-cheng, attracted media attention. In March the KMT was busy with its party chairmanship election. Since then it has done almost nothing of note. It has gradually vanished from the media spotlight. It even failed to comment on President Tsai's inaugural address, on Premier Lin Chuan's abrupt cancellation of revisions to school texts, and the dropping of indictments against Sunflower Student Movement rioters. The KMT did not see fit to comment on any of these major issues. Random individuals spoke out. Otherwise, the KMT was virtually invisible.
The KMT remains the second largest political party on Taiwan. With 35 seats in the Legislative Yuan, it should be checking and balancing the ruling DPP. This is especially true since the Kuomintang has major differences with the DPP over matters of history, national identity, and cross-Strait relations. Unless the KMT highlights its own values, and defends its own beliefs, it will not be able to check and balance the ruling DPP. It will not be able to provide Taiwan with guidance, and will probably be forgotten.
In President Tsai's inaugural address, she openly declared her intention to make cross-Strait relations a regional and global issue. She hopes that membership in the TPP and RCEP will enable her to promote her New Southern Strategy, and “bid farewell to previous over-dependence on a single market”. The single market she referred to was of course the Mainland market. President Tsai also echoed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "values diplomacy" rhetoric. She said the DPP wants to promote an "alliance of values". The allies she has in mind are of course the United States and Japan. The target of the alliance is of course the Beijing government. This military confrontation with the Mainland, along with economic alienation from the Mainland, constitutes President Tsai's foreign policy and strategic thinking for the next four years.
Consider the Mainland perception. President Tsai would "reach a consensus and adopt a unified stance against outsiders". By “outsiders” she means of course the Mainland. For the new government, the Mainland is a hostile entity, but one that must be dealt with. Therefore she will deal with it last. It is the “other” that must be dealt with through the "alliance of values". For President Tsai, "the two sides of the Strait are one family” has no appeal. For her, cross-Strait relations is an “adversarial relationship between two enemies”.
President Tsai's strategic blueprint is guaranteed to ring disaster down on Taiwan's head. This is why the KMT remains indispensable. The KMT must expose the DPP's fallacies. It must have the courage to criticize them. The KMT, aka Chinese Nationalist Party, must understand that if it loses its status as a voice for "China", it will lose its soul and its very reason for being. It will become nothing more than a “me too” edition of the DPP. If however, the Chinese Nationalist Party is willing to reinvest the term "Chinese" with meaning, it can find a renewed theoretical basis to establish peaceful relations with the Mainland. It can strengthen Taiwan and influence the Mainland.
The KMT must insist that Taiwan is a pluralistic society with Chinese culture at its core, and not, as the DPP insists, a pluralistic society without any core culture. The Constitution of the Republic of China is a constitution that does not permit separatism. The new government has no right to propose Taiwan independence. It has a duty to ensure that the nation remains whole. Cross-Strait relations are not foreign relations. They are relations between two governments within China that are in a state of civil war. The 1992 Consensus is the political foundation for current cross-Strait exchanges. The KMT must demand that the new government continue to uphold these principles. It must tell the people that Taiwan cannot participate in regional economic organizations unless it does so in concert with the Mainland. The KMT must loudly proclaim that legally the civil war is not over. It must tell the DPP that the more successful its campaign of de-Sinicization, the more people on the two sides are divided, then the more elusive cross-Strait peace will become, and the greater the possibility of military conflict.
During the Mainland's 30 years of reform and opening, Taiwan made significant contributions to its economic development. Taiwan also preserved traditional Chinese culture. These earned it the respect of the vast majority of people on the Mainland. The DPP is eager to sever all cultural and economic links with the Mainland. As opposition party, the KMT must continue to bear a heavy burden. Pessimistically speaking, it must not allow the Mainland to lose all hope of peaceful reunification. Optimistically speaking, it must let the Mainland feel that Taiwan can play an important part in the revitalization of the Chinese nation. Only then can Taiwan win hearts and minds on the Mainland. Only then, can it they win their respect.
There is no denying that following Taiwan's democratization, the public on Taiwan and the Mainland have become alienated from each other. In recent years Mainland China's power has increased. The cross-Strait balance of power has changed, militarily and economically. Foreign nations have quickly tilted toward the Mainland. The ability of the United States to contain the Mainland is clearly waning. The Mainland made unilateral concessions to Taiwan. But eight years of effort had little effect. Instead they put the DPP in office. Obviously the Mainland must rethink its Taiwan policy. It must not assume that small favors granted unilaterally will change Taiwan. It must think instead of the Mainland and Taiwan “merging into one”.
The KMT remains the key. It must not remain idle while individuals fight its battles. It must provide checks and balances against the ruling DPP. It must not start strong only to end weak. It must gather its forces, unify the party, allies, and the public, and together oppose the DPP's agenda of Sinophobia. It must seek out people of goodwill from both sides, and together promote peaceful cross-Strait relations.