United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 26, 2016
Executive Summary: Leaders on Taiwan must understand the global situation. If they frighten themselves to death with "united front" boogeymen, they are merely incarcerating themselves. Sha Hailin cannot form a united front against anyone. But if leaders on Taiwan continue making hairpin turns, they will make prisoners of us all.
Full Text Below:
Sha Hailin, Minister of the Shanghai City United Front, arrived in Taipei to participate in the Twin Cities Forum. The term "united front" is being blown up beyond all proportion. Sha Hailin's arrival on Taiwan is being spun as a conspiracy with Ko Wen-je against their common enemy Tsai Ing-wen. But this reads far too much into it. Viewing the cross-Strait situation in isolation from world events inevitably leads to misinterpretations.
The rise of Mainland China in the 21st century is irreversible. The 2001 collision between Mainland Chinese and US warplanes constituted a microcosmic version of the new global power struggle. To avoid triggering global concern over the coming years, Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao advanced his "peaceful rise" theory as a theoretical framework for the world's future power structure.
The term "peaceful rise" was later changed to "peaceful development" to underscore the Mainland's lack of hegemonic ambitions. This strategic label was later applied to cross-Strait relations, to highlight the unique history of cross-Strait relations over the past half-century. Divided rule and historic grievances were put into a larger strategic framework. They became local matters not fondly remembered by Zhongnanhai.
Just before Tsai Ing-wen was elected, Xi Jinping reaffirmed the 1992 Consensus. This was why. During last year's Ma Xi summit, Xi Jinping laid out the rules of the game. During Tsai Ing-wen's inauguration, she trotted out the ROC Constitution, and the Regulations Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the People of the Mainland China Area. But Beijing's rules of the game remained exactly the same. Beijing repeatedly demanded that she respond more fully. One reason for this, was fundamental changes in the global strategic picture.
Xi Jinping's opponent is not Tsai Ing-wen, but strategic opponent Barack Obama, or next year's Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Shinzo Abe. The CCP has no need to win over Ko Wen-je. It does not need Ko as leverage over Tsai Ing-wen. The US and Japan are hardly the only ones who can make Tsai Ing-wen flip.
Tsai Ing-wen was Lee Teng-hui's ghost writer. She was the actual author of the previous century's "two states theory”. Seventeen years later, she has become president. During her inauguration she pledged to conduct cross-Strait relations in accordance with the "one China" oriented ROC Constitution. Leave aside the fact that many of her supporters are members of the anti-Mainland, “natural Taiwan independence” oriented Sunflower Student Movement from two years ago. The fact is the Tsai government has been boxed in by the rise of Mainland China.
This is Tsai Ing-wen's dilemma. Changes in the global political and economic order have pushed Taiwan to margins. That was why Tsai confidant James Huang characterized Taiwan as an "ant". Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to cast herself as an anti-China [sic], pro-American, pro-Japan fellow traveler. She is hoping to blaze a new trail. But having been in power 100 days, Tsai Ing-wen and her administration remain trapped on a perilous beachhead, crying out in agony.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Tsai Ing-wen llongs for may be stillborn. Even many in the US oppose it. The New Southern Strategy is a castle in the air. As a result, the government has been forced to extend an olive branch to Beijing, in a gesture of goodwill. All roads to the outside have been blocked or severed. Export figures are not expected to improve. The economy is in a downward spiral. On top of which, Tsai remains a hostage of Taiwan independence forces. She flagrantly rejects the 1992 Consensus, the key to cross-Strait political consensus. Cause and effect are abundantly clear.
Sha Hailin is merely a member of the Shanghai City United Front. When Ma Ying-jeou was in power, such exchanges drew little attention. But Tsai Ing-wen has been in office 100 days. Sha has become the focus of DPP heavyweights. Is this not ironic? The spectre of a "united front" still haunts them. Is this not laughable? It is as if the Berlin Wall has yet to fall, and the Iron Curtain still stands. Taiwan remains trapped in a time warp, and refuses to move forward. Is this not pitiful?
The term "united front" is a term from the previous century. So too is the term "Taiwan independence". The DPP has never leveled with the people. It has never told them that "Taiwan independence" is an outmoded concept, a Cold War era view of the world. Why else would Tsai Ing-wen embrace overlapping sovereignty over the South China Sea and Chinese owned islands?
Leaders on Taiwan must understand the global situation. If they frighten themselves to death with "united front" boogeymen, they are merely incarcerating themselves. Sha Hailin cannot form a united front against anyone. But if leaders on Taiwan continue making hairpin turns, they will make prisoners of us all.
2016-08-26 01:15 聯合報 聯合報社論