Chen Shui-bian's Taiwan Independence Makeup
The "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite"
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
July 26, 2007
Frank Hsieh says that the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" campaign has already been launched. "Now even President Chen cannot call a halt to the process."
Frank Hsieh's comments in the US about the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" were akin to microsurgery. They were intended to draw a bright line between himself and Chen Shui-bian. Although Frank Hsieh signed the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite," his key phrase was "Diplomatic policy is President Chen Shui-bian's prerogative." What he was actually saying was that the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" was Chen Shui-bian's pet project.
Frank Hsieh said that "Now even President Chen cannot call a halt to the process." In fact, the law states that "only the president can call a halt to the process." Is it really the case that Chen Shui-bian cannot call a halt to the process? After all, the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" is still in the second phase of its signature drive. As long as Chen Shui-bian moderates the signature drive, he can cite the high-minded justification that "The public values Taiwan US relations, understands the need to maintain cross straits peace and ensure domestic tranquility," then allow the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" drive to throttle down and make a soft landing.
In fact, Chen Shui-bian's tone has already softened. He recently said "I have not ruled out the possibility of combining the presidential election with the plebiscite." The implication being he hadn't ruled out the possibility of not combining the presidential election with the plebiscite, either. This was not his original, dogmatic posture. Since this is the case, then a face saving measure during the second phase signature drive would be a smart move on the part of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Now let's look at how Chen Shui-bian, Frank Hsieh, and the Democratic Progressive Party determined the pros and cons of carrying the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" petition drive all the way to the bitter end. First, Chen Shui-bian's formal application to "Join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" has already been rejected out of hand by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and returned unread. On the one hand, since Chen Shui-bian has already made the decision to submit the application on his own, without public authorization, why bother with a pro forma "first board the train, then buy the ticket" plebiscite? On the other hand, since the application has already been rejected, what's the point of holding a plebiscite at all?
Second, the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" is merely a masochistic "butting your head against the wall diplomacy" electioneering gimmick intended to win sympathy votes. Therefore the DPP needs to determine just how beneficial it will be to its election prospects. As of today, the election is still seven months away, and it has unexpectedly hit a wall. Frank Hsieh "was surprised" at how firmly the US opposed the plebiscite. The European Union, Japan, Russia, and other major nations all declined to support the plebiscite. The manner in which the United Nations rejected the application came close to a slap in the face. Will hitting a wall this early in the game induce voters to cast sympathy votes for the DPP seven months from now? Or will it merely inspire contempt for the DPP's incompetence? This is something that the DPP must carefully determine. Recent polls indicate that 27.8 % of the public thinks Ma Ying-jeou has a better chance of getting Taiwan into the UN than Frank Hsieh. Only 18.9 % think Frank Hsieh has a better chance of getting Taiwan into the UN than Ma Ying-jeou. Obviously the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" is a phony issue, just like the question, "Do you want to win first prize in the lottery?" It is not necessarily advantageous to the DPP's electioneering efforts.
Third, the issue most worth paying attention to is whether Frank Hsieh should draw a line between himself and Chen Shui-bian. Frank Hsieh's main theme during his talks in the US were about severing ties with Chen Shui-bian. He said "The Five Noes are missing at least one No." What he meant was that "Four Noes" remain in effect. He also said that, "Taiwan is already independent, therefore it has no need for a Taiwan independence plebiscite, has no need for an independence movement, and has no need to declare independence." He drew a line between himself and Chen Shui-bian's "Four Imperatives and One Non-issue." Frank Hsieh cannot publicly commit to the "Five Noes," but he was indicating to the US that he would make such a pledge if elected. He also said that he cannot withdraw the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" petition, but he indicated that if elected, the plebiscite would no longer be an issue after March next year. These declarations suggest that Chen Shui-bian is holding Frank Hsieh hostage. The "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" and the "Four Imperatives and One Non-issue" bombshells are Chen Shui-bian's pet projects, not Frank Hsieh's. Why exactly is Chen Shui-bian holding Frank Hsieh hostage? How can Frank Hsieh campaign under such circumstances? If Frank Hsieh cannot get the Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan independence monkeys off his back, what guarantee do voters have that after he is elected he won't remain a hostage of Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan independence hardliners?
Fourth, lastly, we must carry out a realistic cost/benefit analysis. According to insider information, US reaction to the "Join the UN in the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" was extremely negative. This was apparent from Frank Hsieh's hesitant manner while discussing the issue. The US feels that the "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" is a "Plebiscite intended to change the Status Quo," and has already caused Taipei/Washington relations to degenerate to their lowest level in seven years. Japan, Russia, the European Union, other major nations, and the Secretary General of the United Nations have all expressed their opposition. For the Republic of China government, this is not merely an isolated defeat. It is a defeat that has further consolidated an international consensus in favor of a "One China" as defined by the CCP, rather than as defined by the KMT and by the 1992 Consensus. It is not a temporary setback. It is a setback that has cast a long shadow over Taipei/Washington relations and undermined trust between the DPP and the US government. Chen Shui-bian is recklessly "burning down the house in order to keep warm." Can the DPP tolerate this behavior? Can the people?
The "Join the UN under the name of Taiwan Plebiscite" and the "Four Imperatives and One Non-issue" initiatives are not helpful to Frank Hsieh's election prospects. Nor are they helpful to the DPP's rational interests. All they do is apply a heavy and politically costly layer of make-up over the face of a corrupt Chen Shui-bian, transforming him into a "Champion of Taiwan independence." Must Frank Hsieh pick up the tab for Chen Shui-bian? Must the DPP pick up the tab for Chen Shui-bian? But above all, must the people pick up the tab for Chen Shui-bian?
2007.07.26 03:32 am