Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The DPP Cheers Chen Chu to Avoid an Internal Debate

The DPP Cheers Chen Chu to Avoid an Internal Debate
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 27, 2009

The final impact of Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland on the Democratic Progressive Party remains to be seen. But hardline Taiwan independence advocate Wang Hsing-nan's suggestion that Chen Chu be awarded the Blue Sky White Sun Medal to fellow hardline Taiwan independence advocate Chen Chu is truly laughable.

During Chen Chu's official visit to Beijing, she uttered the words, "our central government's President Ma Ying-jeou." Theoretically and substantively, it was tantamount to proclaiming to the Beijing authorities that the DPP has revised its definition of Taiwan independence.

When word of her remarks got back to Taipei, the Democratic Progressive Party virtually mobilized the entire party, praising Chen Chu for having the wisdom and courage to "assert our national sovereignty." The DPP deftly shifted the focus away from an issue that deserves deep thought and close consideration.

Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland should have motivated the DPP to conduct a major internal debate on national identity and cross-Strait policy. But now it seems the entire party has reached a quiet understanding. The DPP will put a lid on the entire affair and never mention it again. Even Taiwan independence elements are biting their tongues. Chen Chu's words: "our central government's President Ma Ying-jeou," was a potential source of inner-party turmoil. Even this has been blown up into a major political achievement. This is both pathetic and risible.

Let's take a closer look at Chen Chu's language. The Democratic Progressive Party continues to champion its Taiwan independence Party Platform and its Resolution for a Normal Nation. So why did Chen Chu reaffirm the Republic of China in front of the Beijing authorities? The DPP expressed gratitude and appreciation to Chen Chu for her impromptu statement. But let's look at the logical contradiction behind the DPP's position. Why does the DPP affirm the Republic of China in front of Beijing, but run wild through the streets of Taiwan waving "Nation of Taiwan" flags?

This behavior is typical of the Democratic Progressive Party. It seeks only to achieve an immediate impact. It refuses to confront its self-contradictions. Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland was a major event. Perhaps amidst the DPP's "Ah Q" applause, it lost sight of the larger issue. Perhaps the proposal that Chen Chu be awarded a medal, is merely a means of defusing its embarrassment. Perhaps this is the reason the DPP is reluctant and afraid to debate the issue.

Every time an opportunity arises for a debate, the DPP has demonstrated a remarkable ability to disappear. This is perhaps the reason the DPP has been able to repeatedly squeak by. But it is also the reason the DPP remains trapped and must continue looking for a way out. Therefore every time we see the pragmatist/reformists within the Democratic Progressive Party clash with the fundamentalists, they end up hugging each other moments later. Principles that should have been clarified, are deliberately kept muddy. The party is still being held hostage by a tiny number of radicals.

Over the past two decades, The KMT has undergone several major schisms. Jaw Shaw-kang split and formed the New Party. James Soong split and formed the People First Party. In general, the minority that split represented changing mainstream public opinion. Although the schisms brought down the KMT, they also checked tyrants within the party. Finally, after eight years out of office, the KMT has been rebuilt both in its form and in its values. Schisms within the Democratic Progressive Party, on the other hand, are quite different. Hardline advocates of Taiwan independence and hardline supporters of Chen Shui-bian are few and far between. They consider Chen Shui-bian their spiritual leader, but they lack bona fide leaders such as Jaw Shao-kang and James Soong. All they have is the likes of Koo Kuan-min and Huang Ching-ling. Worse still, they lack the wherewithal to split from the Democratic Progressive Party on their own initiative. The DPP does not dare to disassociate itself from them. They dare not disassociate themselves from the DPP. Therefore the DPP remains incapable of using Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland as a catalyst for internal debate. Taiwan independence elements within the Democratic Progressive Party need only raise high the Nation of Taiwan banner, and the Democratic Progressive Party will be forced to salute. It will forever remain their hostage, forever incapable of driving them out. So why bother to debate?

Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chu took the Taiwan independence elements by surprise. Taiwan independence elements have been badly hurt, yet dare not complain. This truly is a miracle. Chen Chu kept her May 17 Mainland itinerary secret. Tsai Ing-wen ensured that the May 17 protest march ended peacefully. Taiwan independence elements felt they had been played for fools. Yet the leadership of the Democratic Progressive Party remains afraid to debate the issue. Why begin a major debate over a small number of hardline advocates of Taiwan independence and hardline supporters of Chen Shui-bian? The hardline advocates of Taiwan independence do not want to debate the DPP leadership. They merely want to take them hostage. Isn't this the very reason hardline advocates of Taiwan independence and hardline supporters of Chen Shui-bian are still able to hijack the DPP?

Chen Chu affirmed the Republic of China in front of the Beijing authorities. Her gesture must not be seen merely as an impromptu gesture. Rather, it sums up the DPP's dilemma. Unless the DPP resolves its internal contradictions, how can DPP supporters be expected "to grow," as Tsai Ing-wen hopes?

The DPP must conduct a comprehensive review of its position regarding national identity and cross-Strait policy. Only then will it be able to establish a viable program for governing the nation. It must not engage in self-deception by suggesting that Chen Chu be awarded a medal. Instead, it should do some serious soul-searching.

2009.05.27 05:32 am












Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lausanne and Standard & Poor's Warning

Lausanne and Standard & Poor's Warning
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 26, 2009

International rating agencies seem to be out of step with Taiwan's political rhythms. Taiwan's stock market rose sharply. Media polls clearly show support for government leaders increasing. Yet on the first anniversary of President Ma's inauguration, these agencies issued a number of reports unfavorable to Taiwan.

On May 20, the Management School in Lausanne, Switzerland (IMD) released its Global Competitiveness Report. Taiwan fell 10 places. Moreover, Taiwan's setback was the largest of the Four Asian Tigers. It even lost out to mainland China. Standard & Poor's, the leading international credit rating agency, also released its "stress test" data assessments. Assuming that the economic recession lasts until 2012, it concluded that Taiwan's sovereign credit rating would drop five grades, to BBB. It would be bring up the rear in the Asian region. It would fall behind the Chinese mainland. These two messages were issued by an internationally respected rating agency, and merit serious consideration.

Let's look at the IMD and Standard & Poor's ratings. At first they seem to share no common ground. The IMD believes that five challenges face Taiwan: innovation and the attraction of talent, the creation of a sustainable environment, the promotion of cross-strait relations, effective corporate governance, and financial reforms. The Standard & Poor's assessment notes the budget deficit, debt structure, and financial system. Compare the two assessments and the obvious common ground is the government's finances. The Liu cabinet's debt crisis is undeniably Taiwan's Achilles Heel. The two assessments released on May 20 are not the only ones. The Standard & Poor's ratings earlier this year, and the Fitch credit rating last year, downgraded Taiwan's ratings due to the same concerns. The Ma administration's response to Taiwan's downgraded ratings has focused on Taiwan's R&D and innovation. Actually, all the administration's policies need money. A government's financial solvency is unquestionably more important than anything else.

We already know Taiwan's Achilles Heel. Therefore we hope the Ma administration will address the problem, and not offer some officialese excuse. For example, high-level cabinet members have cited "a depressed global economy, and increased government spending" as an excuse for Taiwan's worsening deficit. But this argument is at variance with the facts. The financial tsunami and economic depression have swept the globe. Every nation has responded by increasing government spending. So why have the ROC's finances deteriorated more than other countries, and resulted in a rapid downgrading of our sovereign credit rating? All nations face the same recession. So why have our finances deteriorated while our competitors' have improved? This reveals we have special problems that must be confronted honestly.

Over the past year, the harshest domestic criticism of the cabinet has been reserved for the international economic recession. This substantially increased the administration's public expenditures. Yet the administration chose to launch a series of tax cut measures, including income tax cuts, business tax cuts, inheritance tax cuts, and excise tax cuts. These amount to over 100 billion NT per annum, and represent a serious increase in our deficit. Increasing spending while reducing taxes is self-contradictory. Pleasing both sides is impossible. With the economic downturn at home and abroad, and reduced corporate profits, everyone wants a tax cut. Therefore the time is not right for tax cuts. But the Liu cabinet refused to listen, and insisted on looking into tax cuts. It was unable to say no to special interest groups. The predictable result was a loss of revenue, and a deterioration in the government's finances.

In addition to urgent financial problems, the ROC government needs to increase its efficiency and carry out basic infrastructure projects. The IMD rating included over 300 items. One third of these were a survey of opinion leaders. Government efficiency would not show up in the current economic data. But they would leave an impression in the minds of corporate leaders. For example, the Executive Yuan ritually launches a new industry every week. But much of the content is merely a repackaging of the policies of various ministries. It was in a hurry to release its economic recovery program before May 20. But it lacked depth and substance. The administration does not appear to have followed up on the first few policies it implemented. Various ministries often use product placement to promote their policies. But business leaders see right through the government's ineffectual show. This repackaging of the government's policies fail to achieve anything of substance. This is another crisis the Ma administration faces.

The TAIEX rallied just before May 20. But international rating agencies poured cold water on the rally. Anyone who looked only at the TAIEX would say the cabinet is doing better. Anyone who read only the IMD report would recommend that the Cabinet make immediate changes. The welfare of the public on Taiwan over the next few years depends upon how President Ma interprets this discordant data.

2009.05.26 04:01 am








Friday, May 22, 2009

Chen Chu Breaks the Ice

Chen Chu Breaks the Ice
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 22, 2009

Chen Chu departed from Kaohsiung In the morning. By the afternoon, she had arrived directly in Beijing and was meeting with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong. For the DPP, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland was an ice-breaker. It meant that the Green Camp's unconditional opposition to Beijing has changed. It is time for the DPP's inconsistent Mainland policy to undergo a major revision.

Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland has aroused much concern. The public does not oppose her visit. But it has been taken aback by the DPP's peculiar double standard. After all, the Green Camp just took to the streets on May 17 to denounce Ma for "selling out Taiwan." Then on May 21, its highest ranking public official led a delegation to Beijing. Even party elders and Taiwan independence elements are gnashing their teeth. How is the DPP to explain itself to the general public? Chen Chu's mainland visit reveals that the May 17 protest march had a tough shell, but a brittle core. It also revealed that the DPP's tortured rhetoric can no longer conceal its internal contradictions.

In fact, the DPP has become increasingly aware of the need for exchanges with the CCP. But politically they cling to their anti-Beijing rhetoric. They remain determined to depict the KMT's efforts to improve cross-Strait relations as "betraying Taiwan." Even more incredibly, the DPP clearly knew of Chen Chu's plan to visit the Mainland. But to avoid embarrassment during the protest march they suppressed this information. They assumed their head the sand tactics would allow them to squeak by. In fact, their strategy of self-deception merely made fools of Deep Green True Believers, casting them into a bottomless abyss of lost faith.

Chen Chu's trip was full of twists and turns. She has a powerful desire to play the role of an ice-breaker. But she also knows she faces enormous resistance, particularly from the Green Camp. Therefore she sneaked around and repeatedly changed her story. On May 17 Chen Chu joined the pro-independence march in Kaohsiung mid-stream. Then, under the pretext she was heading north to join the march in Taipei, she ran off. She never appeared at the main venue in Kaohsiung. Her exceptionally low-keyed behavior was an effort to avoid spoiling her chance to visit the Mainland. It was also an effort to avoid intensifying outside criticism of the DPP for saying one thing and doing another.

Nor should we overlook the high degree of goodwill shown toward Chen Chu. This was also a breakthrough for Beijing authorities vis a vis the DPP. They even granted her the courtesy of clearing customs without a "Taiwan Compatriot Entry Permit." They allowed her to enter as the "Mayor of Kaohsiung." They even put up billboards on streets in downtown Beijing urging the public to "See the World Games in Kaohsiung." These were compromises the two sides reached for the sake of this ice-breaking visit. Therefore, even though the International Real Estate Federation Awards Ceremony was postponed, Chen Chu still valued this hard-won opportunity and chose to attend as planned. Clearly bilateral relations is not just a "kill or be killed" zero-sum game.

The Kaohsiung World Games forced the Democratic Progressive Party to deal with Beijing. Perhaps this was accidental. But for the Democratic Progressive Party it is also an opportunity to make a breakthrough. Promoting the games necessitates more extensive and direct cross-Strait contacts and exchanges. But so does promoting the economy, trade, tourism, and cultural exchanges. Chen Chu's visit furthers the overall interests of Kaohsiung citizens. But so does the Ma administration's promotion of cross-Strait personnel, capital, and educational exchanges. Why must the DPP smear Ma's policy as "betraying Taiwan?" Since Chen Chu visited the Mainland with such awe-inspiring righteousness, what are we to make of the Green Camp's habit of equating "visiting the Mainland" with "sympathizing with Beijing," and "sympathizing with Beijing" with "betraying Taiwan?" Isn't this kind of thinking ready for the shredder?

Actually, the Mayor of Kaohsiung's visit to the Mainland is nine years too late. In July 2000, then Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh wanted to visit Xiamen as part of a Sister Cities exchange. He was prevented from doing so by newly inaugurated President Chen Shui-bian and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen. The trip was aborted. The result was Chen Chu's ice-breaking visit nine years later. Nine years later, Taiwan independence player Chen Shui-bian is in prison for corruption. Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen has changed her position in support of Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland. From the DPP's perspective, it wasted nine years. As it waffled indecisively, it lost both political power and public support. Isn't it time the DPP amended its outdated Mainland policy?

For Taiwan, Chen Chu's visit carries greater significance than merely promoting the Kaohsiung World Games. It means the public interest is more important than personal ideology. With the participation of the Democratic Progressive Party, cross-Strait interaction will become more diverse. This is a plus. The DPP has stepped forward and met directly with Beijing. It is no longer hiding behind the KMT, sniping from the sidelines. This is something it must do to act responsibly. The only problem is, how will the Democratic Progressive Party convince grass-roots supporters to support Chen Chu's visit to the Mainland?

Chen Chu departed from Kaohsiung, made a detour to Ketagelan Boulevard, then arrived in Beijing. Chen Chu's ice-breaking trip was roundabout and rife with posturing. But the outside world should not rush to condemn the show Chen Chu put on. The bilateral strategic picture is clear. It will not unfold according to Chen Chu's personal whims.

2009.05.22 05:45 am










Ah-Bian Does Not Measure Up to Roh Moo-hyun

Ah-Bian Does Not Measure Up to Roh Moo-hyun
China Post editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 22, 2009

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, amidst suspicions of bribery, lept off a cliff and committed suicide. He came from a poor family. He studied hard to pass the bar exams. He became a human rights lawyer and champion of clean government. His job performance while in power was mediocre. It went from good to bad. After he stepped down corruption scandals erupted. Because his wife and children demanded bribes from businessmen while he was in office, they became subjects of investigation. He says he was unaware that his family members extorted bribes. But he publicly said he could not face the public. He deeply regretted disappointing his fellow countrymen, and eventually chose suicide.

Roh Moo-hyun and Chen Shui-bian are similar in so many ways, making it difficult not to make comparisons. But no matter how similar their stories may be, one cannot deduce from Roh Moo-hyun's corruption whether Chen Shui-bian was also guilty of corruption.

Criminal cases must be turned over to the trial courts for judgment. The behavior of Chen Shui-bian and his family in the wake of the scandals have inevitably led the public to arrive at certain conclusions about whether Chen Shui-bian is guilty of corruption. Nevertheless we insist on upholding the principle of the presumption of innocence. We respect the judgment of the courts, and refuse to make rash judgments.

But we cannot deny that Roh Moo-hyun's feelings of remorse and decision to commit suicide, have held up a mirror to our own former head of state and his attitude while confronting his own corruption scandals.

We feel regret and sadness over Roh Moo-hyun' decision to end his own life. We would never encourage anyone to follow his example. But we must point out that Roh Moo-hyun's suicide has nothing to do with the administration of justice. It was purely a political and moral gesture. The public has long looked forward to the emergence of this sort of political ethics on Taiwan, but it has never made an appearance, leaving the public deeply disappointed.

President Chen Shui-bian left office in August of last year. Because he was unable to hide his overseas money-laundering, he confessed to committing illegal acts, and offered a public apology. This led to brief bout of criticism by the Green Camp. But the scope of the scandal continued to expand. The amount of money involved was appalling, and left Roh Moo-hyun far behind. Although the scandal became worse and worse, Chen Shui-bian's expression of remorse vanished like a puff of smoke. He maintained repeatedly he was innocent, and a victim of political persecution. Chen Shui-bian and Roh Moo-hyun were indeed quite different.

The Democratic Progressive Party organized a May 17 protest march. It took to the streets to denounce Ma Ying-jeou. It exercised the right of opposition parties to express dissent. What the public on Taiwan noted with a cold eye however, was the complete absence of DPP criticism of Chen Shui-bian's money-laundering scandal. On the contrary, Chairman Tsai Ing-wen accused the ruling KMT of violating Chen Shui-bian's human rights, in order to humiliate the Democratic Progressive Party. Whether the court's taking of Chen Shui-bian into custody constitutes an infringement of human rights is a serious issue that merits scrutiny. But whether Chen Shui-bian was taken into custody on orders from the ruling administration is a different matter entirely.

The evidence of Chen administration money-laundering is overwhelming. He established a vast number of overseas accounts. The amount of wealth he accumulated during his eight years in power is no secret. No evidence exists that ruling KMT officials have engaged in political persecution. Green Camp representatives accuse the ruling KMT of manipulating the judiciary and engaging in political persecution. They make unfounded accusations, but offer no evidence. As to how Ah-Bian, Ah-Cheng, and their children moved such vast sums of "campaign contributions" overseas, they remain silent. Contrast the two, and one is bound to find their allegations of political persecution and human rights violations utterly unconvincing.

Suppose the situation were reversed. Suppose Ma Ying-jeou had acquired vast sums of campaign contributions, or set up overseas accounts containing vast sums of money. Would the Green Camp criticize such abuses? Whenever the Green Camp utters the words "clean government," its political and moral double standards have opened it up to ridicule. The Presbyterian Church's accusation that the Democratic Progressive Party has failed to reflect upon Chen Shui-bian's mistakes is not without reason.

What about Chen Shui-bian himself? He has cited his illness, his medical treatment, and written books to accuse the courts of political persecution. His most recent tactic has been to fire his defense counsel, and refuse to talk with the public defender. This of course is his right as a criminal defendant. But isn't his strategy of forcing a showdown with the courts unbecoming of an attorney at law and an officer of the court, not to mention a former head of state? Chen Shui-bian may not act as if he doesn't care. But anyone in the know, must have some feelings about the matter.

A former head of state must face justice as a result of his money scandals. Instead he has given up his rights of as the accused to a legal defense. He has done so in defiance of common sense, for the sake of political posturing. Is he intentionally attempting to create enmity between himself and the court? Has he truly been wronged and helpless to seek legal redress? Or is he all too aware of his own guilt and imminent conviction, and therefore establishing a preemptive claim to political persecution? Has he completely lost his political and moral compass? Does he really expect the world to believe he is fighting for justice and the lofty ideal of human rights? How much political legitimacy does he still have? How many people will actually believe him?

No matter what attitude Chen Shui-bian assumes as he faces justice, the court's ruling, his guilt or innocence, his sentence light or heavy, will be subject to close scrutiny by the public, in accordance with the rule of law.

Preventing the abuse of power by political leaders attempting to enrich themselves and undermine the body politic by punishing them after they commit a crime is hardly the ideal solution. The ideal solution is to increase accountability by forcing politicians to demonstrate political integrity and abide by moral standards, by demanding that the ruling and opposition parties share responsibility. Chen Shui-bian does not measure up to Roh Moo-hyun. Let's hope that does not mean that Taiwan does not measure up to South Korea!

中時電子報 新聞
新聞速報 2009.05.25
扁不如盧 希望不代表台不如韓














Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yeh Chin-chuan's Tears vs. the Youth Corps Member's Lap Dog

Yeh Chin-chuan's Tears vs. the Youth Corps Member's Lap Dog
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 21, 2009

Yeh Chin-chuan wept. Why he wept involves a complex political tale. But the plot of this complex political tale that unfolded in Geneva is actually quite simple. It was merely a noisy debate between two political groups.

One Huang Hai-ning and several other students organized a heckling team. They interrupted a dinner in Geneva hosted by Yeh Chin-chuan for the Ministers of Health of allied nations. They harangued Yeh Chin-chuan, demanding to know, "Under what name are you participating in the WHA?" Behind this rhetorical question however, was a prescripted agenda. Yeh must use the name "Republic of China" or "Taiwan" when participating in the WHA, otherwise he is "selling out Taiwan." That is why Huang continually screamed, "Yeh Chin-chuan, don't sell out Taiwan!" Yeh Chin-chuan was eventually driven to tears by her accusations.

Huang Hai-ning and others offered no logical arguments. They were perhaps adopting an all or nothing, do or die stance regarding participation in WHO activities. Failure to join using the official name of the nation constituted a national humiliation. It meant loss and defeat, even betrayal. The tune sung by Huang Hai-ning and others was full of solemnity and pathos. She was a former DPP Youth Corps member and the daughter of a retired DPP party worker.

Meanwhile, Yeh Chin-chuan was playing a different tune. He provided a dramatic counterpoint to Huang Hai-ning. He offered an entirely different logic. He adopted a low-keyed approach. His reasoning was that it is not necessary to join using the official name of the nation. After one has joined, the meaning of one's nation will become clear enough. Only then will one have the opportunity to proclaim what one is. Only then can one look forward to achieving one's goal.

Two entirely different ways of thinking collided in Geneva. It wasn't really a debate. It was merely a one-sided shouting of verbal abuse. But this is a serious topic worthy of serious thought. It should not be concluded amidst the smoke and confusion of whether to file a complaint and whether to step down. If it is given serious thought, then Yeh Chin-chuan's tears will not be wasted. Whereas the Youth Corps member's travel expenses from France to Switzerland will be.

These Youth Corps members' tune is something even Chen Shui-bian never took seriously. Chen Shui-bian once threatened to push for a "plebiscite on WHO membership." But he never followed through. Last year, he sent a letter to WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, demanding "admission to the WHO in the name of Taiwan," and participation in WHO activities as an observer. Both of Chen Shui-bian's registered letters were eventually returned, unread. These lap dog wielding Youth Corps members, couldn't achieve anything more than Chen Shui-bian. Perhaps they were merely putting on a show. Perhaps they were making what they knew to be impossible demands upon Yeh Chin-chuan, demanding that he do what the Democratic Progressive Party couldn't do.

The interaction between the two groups was not a genuine debate. It was merely political theater, staged for domestic consumption. Its real significance was revealed the next day, during staged protests. Yeh Chin-chuan sat in the World Health Assembly as an official observer. Mainland Chinese Minister of Health Chen Zhu walked over to Yeh Chin-chuan, and was introduced. Yeh Chin-chuan and Chen Zhu greeted each other and conversed. The two men bridged a thirty-eight year gap, and made history.

Yeh Chin-chuan's four-minute speech received a full minute of applause. The scene carried real weight. In 1971 the United Nations General Assembly, at Albania's behest, adopted UN Resolution 2758, expelling Taipei from the United Nations, and replacing it with Beijing. Thirty-eight years later, Republic of China officials met for the first time with officials of the other side, at the same time, in the same room, inside a UN organization. Both sides used official titles while addressing each other. The scene was loaded with historical and political significance. If it turns out to be no match for a handful of noisy Youth Corps members, is that not Taiwan's loss?

Twice Chen Shui-bian sent letters applying for WHO membership. Twice they were returned. If they hadn't been, the first Director of Health to become a WHA observer might have been Twu Shing-Jer, instead of Yeh Chin-chuan. If Twu Shing-Jer had attended the WHA under the name of "Chinese Taipei," would the Youth Corps member armed with her lap dog still have rushed fto Geneva from Paris to heckle him?

If Twu Shing-Jer were still President Chen Shui-bian's Director of Health, would Twu Shing-Jer say that the new strain of influenza is best gift he could give President Chen Shui-bian? Six years ago, when Twu Shing-Jer was Director of Health, the public never heard him say SARS was a gift for President Chen Shui-bian.

The Youth Corps member asserted that Yeh Chin-chuan and Taiwan had been humiliated. But we hardly need Youth Corps members to remind us of that. Most of the public on Taiwan is aware of the humiliation involved in attending the WHA under the name "Chinese Taipei." Our nation is near suffocation. Yeh Chin-chuan wants to give it a chance to take a deep breath. Yet these Youth Corps members accuse him of enduring humiliation merely for the sake of survival. In the debate over national identity, haven't these always been the two views?

2009.05.21 05:18 am












Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Standing on the Front Line, Responding to Public Expectations

Standing on the Front Line, Responding to Public Expectations
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 20, 2009

President Ma Ying-jeou has been in office one year. The dominant feeling during this year has been frustration with the Ma administration for failing to live up to its potential.

President Ma's performance has fallen far short of public expectations. Two very different reasons are responsible for this, and both apply. First, President Ma erred, provoking public dissatisfaction. Secondly, on other issues, President Ma did not err. Instead, public expectations were unrealistic. In other words, some problems are due to President Ma's errors. Other problems are due to unrealistic public expectations.

President Ma Ying-jeou's main goal during the remainder of his term should be to identify the gaps between his performance and public expectations, and to fill them. If President Ma has erred, he must swiftly make amends. If the public has unrealistic expectations, he must communicate with the public and convince them otherwise. The president's performance will inevitably fall short of public expectations. But the shortfalls must be kept to a minimum.

Actually, when President Ma took office a year ago, the situation was more perious than first imagined. Taipei's relations with Beijing had reached new lows. Taipei's relations with Washington had also reached new lows. Taiwan's economic dependence on mainland China had reached new highs. The mainland's influence on Taiwan's political and economic lifeblood had also reached new highs. Cross-Strait relations had come to a head, and were ready for a showdown. Chen Shui-bian and the DPP had milked the national identity issue and "ethnic" relations issue for all they were worth. The Chen corruption case had devastated the system of legal justice and social justice beyond repair. Problems plagued the nation, inside and out. Add to this a global financial tsunami that occurs only once in a century. Faced with such perilous circumstances, what kind of president did Ma Ying-jeou aspire to be? What did the public expect Ma Ying-jeou to do? This is where the gap appeared.

What kind of President did Ma Ying-jeou aspire to be? The Chen Shui-bian regime was fierce, tyrannical, and reckless. By contrast, Ma Ying-jeou was none of these things. He believed that people in political office must be upright, that integrity must be foremost. Chen Shui-bian was willing "to do whatever it takes." Ma Ying-jeou, by contrast, imposes limits upon himself. For example, Ma Ying-jeou declared that he was "retreating to the second line." The result was Liu Chao-hsuan became the most respected Premier in the past two decades. Ma never humiliated Vincent Siew the way Liu Tai-ying and Su Chi-cheng did. Ma never abused Premiers the way Chen Shui-bian did. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, in order to demagogue cross-Strait relations and Taipei-Washington relations, resorted to posturing and provoking external crises, to be used as political bargaining chips. Chen Shui-bian was fierce, tyrannical, and reckless to the extreme. During his "lost voyage" he ordered Air Force One flown to Libya as a gesture of protest. Ma Ying-jeou's policy was to transit on the west coast of the US, coming and going. Some suggested that he transit on the east coast, but he ignored such suggestions, saying he wanted to "keep things simple." Even Jason Hu felt Ma's style was "too bland." How does one explain Ma's style anyway?

What kind of president does the public expect Ma Ying-jeou to be? When Ma Ying-jeou said he was "retreating to the second line," the public subjected him to overwhelming criticism and ridicule. The public felt that the separation of powers between the president and the premier was something they needed to settle between themselves. But as the president, as the spiritual and political leader of the nation Ma had a responsibility to stand on the front line. Ma said "Chen Yunlin can address me as Mr. Ma," "Taiwan and mainland China are two regions," and "If re-elected I would not rule out political talks." President Ma probably felt he was merely stating some simple facts. But he really should have known his statement would provoke jibes about "Regional Administrator Ma." The public wonders how Ma can be so oblivious to the impact of his remarks. Chen Tsung-ming has refused to step down. The pre-trial investigation and the Chen corruption case have not progressed as the public hoped they would. Many people consider this President Ma's responsibility. Yet Ma's only response has been to say, "I respect the independence of the judiciary." Cross-Strait policy involves walking a tightrope. Some accuse him of "sympathizing with [Mainland] China, and selling out Taiwan." Others accuse him of promoting an "independent Taiwan and the two-states theory." As we can see, the public has sharply divergent expectations of Ma Ying-jeou.

Ma Ying-jeou got elected on the basis of his "Better Immediately!" campaign slogan. The subsequent gap between public expectations was of course, huge. Also, many factors, such as the rise and fall of cross-Strait relations were not under his control. The financial tsunami made matters worse. The Chen corruption case dragged on, making many people impatient. Faced with criticism from within and without, many members of the public almost hoped that Ma Ying-jeou would display a few "fierce, tyrannical, and reckless" traits. Instead, Ma Ying-jeou's forebearance was interpreted as weakness and incompetence. In fact Ma Ying-jeou could easily say the words or make the gestures needed to win over populist sentiment. So how did he get to be labeled as "weak and incompetent?" Is this the result of a gap in public expectations? Or is Ma Ying-jeou a person who simply will not live up to his potential?

What does Ma Ying-jeou expect of himself as a president? What does the public on Taiwan expect of him as a president? For the answers to these two questions, and to bridge the gap between public expectations and Ma's performance, we need to answer an even more fundamental question: Given the Republic of China's internal and external circumstances, what kind of leader does it need?

President Ma must stand on the front line. No matter what the separation of powers between the President and Premier might be, no matter how the party and government might interface, President Ma has symbolic and political responsibility to stand on the front line. He must stand on the front line. But Taiwan cannot endure another populist president who lives by demagoguery. Externally, he must persuade Beijing to maintain a win-win relationship. Internally, he must persuade Taiwan independence elements to see the error of their ways, and heal society's wounds. The president has taken a position on the front lines. He must be patient on the international front and forgiving on the domestic front. The president is standing on the front line, taking the point. It would be an easy matter for him to make a show of being a powerful leader, fierce, tyrannical, and reckless. But standing on the front line, taking the point, he must bite his tongue, he must make concessions. he must avoid doing the things he shouldn't do. That may well be beyond the abilities of ordinary mortals. To what extent must he remain silent? To what extent must he make concessions? How can he do what must be done, and refuse to do what must not be done? How can he avoid accusations that he has not lived up to his potential.

The public is frustrated with the Ma administration for not living up to its potential. The potential the public expects it to live up to may not be all that great. Ma Ying-jeou's own expectations may be simple and transparent. The problem is understanding our situation inside and out. What kind of potential should national leaders fulfill? Only after we have answered this question, can we fill the gap between public expectations and the president's performance.

站上第一線 回應恨鐵不成鋼的期待
2009.05.20 05:46 am












Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is "Sympathizing with China" synonymous with "Selling Out Taiwan?"

Is "Sympathizing with China" synonymous with "Selling Out Taiwan?"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 19, 2009

The theme of the May 17 protest march was "Oppose Sympathizing with China, Defend Taiwan." Its four demands were "Defend Taiwan. Ensure Sovereignty. Help the Unemployed. Protect the Disadvantaged." Unfortunately the marchers were unaware of the internal contradictions in their own demands.

Their fundamental reasoning is that "Sympathizing with [Mainland] China" means one is incapable of "Defending Taiwan." Supposedly this has two harmful effects. First, sovereignty will be lost. Second, financial hardship will follow.

Why do we say the marchers' demands contain inherent contradictions? First of all, "Sympathizing with China" is not necessarily antithetical to "Defending Taiwan. Protecting Taiwan." If "Sympathizing with China" means establishing a policy of "Cross-Strait Goodwill," of creating a mutually-beneficial, win-win scenario, then "Sympathizing with [Mainland] China" is hardly going to bring disaster down upon Taiwan, and may well bring benefits. Equating "Sympathizing with China" with "selling out Taiwan" is a logical non sequiteur. Opinion polls show that although a majority of respondents believe the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy is indeed "Sympathizing with China," it also feels that such a policy benefits Taiwan. As we can see, "Sympathizing with China" is not necessarily "Selling out Taiwan." In fact, a policy of "Sympathizing with China" can also be rooted in a desire to "Defend Taiwan. Protect Taiwan." It can also be motivated by the real world advantages of "Defending Taiwan. Protecting Taiwan."

Will "Sympathizing with China" lead to a loss in sovereignty? To answer this question, we must first understand the Republic of China's current status regarding its sovereignty. The sovereignty of the Republic of China has been been dealt a series of traumatic blows. For example, it cannot join the United Nations. It must use the name "Chinese Taipei" when participating in certain international events. These are painful to our citizens. The Ma administration's cross-Strait policy cannot fully express our sovereignty. But at least we can use the name "Chinese Taipei" while participating in WHA activities. At least no more nations have broken off diplomatic relations with us. At least we are establishing a framework for cross-Strait exchanges based on the premise of "1992 Consensus. One China, Different Interpretations," in which we refrain from repudiating each others‘ status. These subtle but significant achievements were hard won. But they have unquestionably enhanced our sovereignty. Nor has the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy undermined our sovereignty on Taiwan. The Republic of China flag continues to flutter above the Presidential Palace. Republic of China elections continue to be held, just as they always have been. The Republic of China Legislature continues to be plagued by opposition DPP antics such as locking the doors to the Legislature in protest. Tens of thousands of Mainland tourists come and go beneath the Republic of China flag every day. One could argue that the Republic of China's sovereignty has been significantly improved during this period.

Has "Sympathizing with China" led to economic difficulties? In fact, most people affirm the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy precisely because it contributes to Taiwan's economic development. The deepening of cross-Strait economic exchanges is bound to impact some sectors or businesses. We must respond appropriately. But the overall situation has unquestionably been beneficial to Taiwan. Besides, cross-Strait exchanges are an economic path we cannot refuse to take. On the one hand, the DPP complains of economic hardship. On the other hand, it contradicts itself by blasting any policy it accuses of "Sympathizing with China." Cross-Strait exchanges are essential to Taiwan's economy. On this we have a broad social consensus. This is why most people do not equate "Sympathizing with China" with "Selling out Taiwan." From an economic perspective, "Sympathizing with China" may even be motivated by a desire to "Defend Taiwan."

During the May 17 protest march, Yeh Chin-chuan led a delegation to the WHA. His trip touched on the matter of sovereignty. At the Cross-Strait Forum in Xiamen Wang Yi announced Beijing's "Eight Benefits for Taiwan" program. This, and the "Western Straits Economic Zone" were both the result of "economic exchanges." The Democratic Progressive Party says it champions our sovereignty. How then can it object to participation in the WHA? The DPP says it hopes to revive the economy. How then can it oppose Beijing's "Eight Benefits for Taiwan?"

The Democratic Progressive Party's vigilance regarding the risks of cross-Strait exchanges deserves affirmation. Yet its May 17 protest march was all about Taiwan independence. This is hardly the answer to the Republic of China's sovereignty and economic problems. The DPP sees the May 17 protest march as a case of successful political mobilization. But the protest march merely mired the DPP ever more deeply in Taiwan independence thinking. This poses a hidden danger for the DPP. The Ma administration proposes an amicable Mainland policy that "Sympathizes with China." If it can continue showing that dignity and sovereignty correlate positively with economic development, then the Democratic Progressive Party's strategy of equating "Sympathizing with China" with "Selling out Taiwan" will no longer be viable. How else can one explain Chen Chu's trip to the Mainland?

The May 17 protest march was a major revelation to both Beijing and Taipei. It implied that although the public opposes "Selling out Taiwan," it does not oppose "Sympathizing with China." What constitutes "Sympathizing with China?" What constitutes "Selling out Taiwan?" The Ma administration knows. So does Beijing. So does the public on Taiwan. That is why we advocate "inviting the other side to a dance," but do not advocate "inviting the other side to its own funeral."

2009.05.19 05:55 am









Monday, May 18, 2009

May 17: A Success If Concluded on May 18

May 17: A Success If Concluded on May 18
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 18, 2009

The Ma/Liu government has been in office for one year. On May 17 the DPP launched a "Denounce Ma, Defend Taiwan" protest march. Green Camp supporters have felt frustrated for the past year. They eagerly took to the streets despite the hot sun. Meanwhile, the Cross-Strait Forum opened on the Mainland. Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang, who rejoined the DPP during last year's presidential election, was also in attendance. He said that the Democratic Progressive Party could denounce Ma if it wanted, but "Opposing China" was pointless. President Ma Ying-jeou, target of the denunciations, chose to go south to the Hsingchu Technology Park. He said he understood the DPP's denunciations. He hoped the march could end peacefully. The low profile, moderate demeanor of the ruling KMT contrasted sharply with the high profile, combative demeanor of the opposition DPP.

The Taipei Police Department estimated fewer than 80,000 protestors. The Democratic Progressive Party claimed up to 600,000 people. It was obviously pleased with its mobilization. Leave aside whether 600,000 or 80,000 protestors attended. The Democratic Progressive Party can not evade the fact that the approval rating of Ma Ying-jeou, the target of their denunciations, has already rebounded from its low during last year's global financial tsunami. It now stands at over 55%. On the other hand, the latest TVBS poll puts DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen's approval ratings at a new low of 30%.

Core support for the Democratic Progressive Party remains stuck between 30 to 45%. It has not increased in over two decades. Eight years of Chen Shui-bian administration corruption may even have caused it to shrink. The Democratic Progressive Party is pleased with itself because Ketagelan Road is packed full of people. But let's not forget that: First, this crowd was bussed in from southern and central Taiwan. Secondly, this crowd represents the hard core of the Democratic Progressive Party's shrinking support. Thirdly, and most importantly, this crowd consists of Democratic Progressive Party True Believers. They cannot help the Democratic Progressive Party return to power.

The Democratic Progressive Party denounced the Ma administration for "selling out Taiwan." How exactly is Ma supposed to have sold Taiwan out? Director of Health Yeh Chin-chuan is in Geneva preparing to attend the WHO Conference. The Democratic Progressive Party complained that the official WHA website shows Taiwan as a province of China. Yeh Chin-chuan angrily shot back, "That happened in 2005. That was the handiwork of the incompetent Chen Shui-bian administration. Don't blame that on me!" Increasing the Republic of China's breathing room should transcend Blue and Green. It should be something upon which both camps agree. We have many different ways to go about it. The results may also be very different. The Republic of China has found a way to make contact with the international community. The only problem is the Democratic Progressive Party is unwilling to face up to it. They left a mess. Now the Ma administration must clean it up.

The Democratic Progressive Party has its own rationale vis a vis Beijing. When President Chen Shui-bian ran for president, he touted his "New Centrist Path." Unfortunately, despite eight years in power, Taiwan independence forces have left the party in a mess. Even though it is now in the opposition, it remains bound hand and foot. Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang denounced Ma Ying-jeou but also has dealings with the Mainland. Hsu has proposed "Boldly Going West." Some Democratic Progressive Party members have underground channels to Beijing, Shanghai, or Xiamen, But officially they must denounce deals with the mainland as "selling out Taiwan." Former Premier Frank Hsieh was also former Mayor of Kaohsiung. He had a chance to visit the mainland. But Chen Shui-bian stopped him dead in his tracks. On the eve of the May 17 "Denounce Ma" protest march, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu publicly confirmed that she would visit Beijing on May 21. This time, she will not be so unlucky as to encounter a president and party chairman who will forbid her from making the trip.

The two sides have carried on normal exchanges for years. Political and ideological interference aside, neither the Blue nor Green camps have "sold out Taiwan." This past year, the Ma administration has relaxed cross-Strait policy. But in fact, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was unable to interrupt cross-strait exchanges during its eight years in office. The more tightly the government controled official exchanges, the closer non-governmental exchanges became. Increased cross-Strait relations are an irreversible trend. How can fanatical Democratic Progressive Party protests prevent them? Put bluntly, even pro-Taiwan independence businesses need the mainland market.

The Democratic Progressive Party may be satisfied with its 30% share of public support. But those in power cannot ignore the increasing rigid 30% Green Camp core support. We conducted a poll on the first anniversary of the Ma administration. Satisfaction with the Ma administration on cross-Strait policy and the outcome of recent consultations has risen significantly. It now exceeds 50%. Have these initiatives have put the sovereignty of the Republic of China at risk? The number that thinks so has also significantly increased. It now stands at 30%. The DPP cannot return to power based on the support of 30% of the electorate. But the 30% of the electorate denouncing Ma and opposing Beijing can polarize society. That may be why the Ma/Liu government's response to the May 17 protest march was so low keyed and moderate.

Taiwan has been politically liberalized for over 20 years. Social polarization reached its zenith under the Chen Shui-bian administration's eight years in office. The wounds inflicted on society by such divisions obviously cannot be healed overnight. As Premier Liu Chao-hsuan said, "Having different opinions is not a bad thing. Only this can force the government to watch its every step." Social consensus is also established step-by-step. The May 17 protest march should be seen as normal for a democracy. The success of May 17 should not measured by its numbers. It should be measured by whether it ends peacefully on May 18. Only such a result can rebuild public confidence in the Democratic Progressive Party.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.05.18
社論-五一八圓滿散場 五一七才算成功









Friday, May 15, 2009

Tsai Ing-wen's Justification as DPP Chairperson Shattered

Tsai Ing-wen's Justification as DPP Chairperson Shattered
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 15, 2009

Yesterday Tsai Ing-wen visited Chen Shui-bian at the Taipei Detention Center. To understand the meaning of her gesture, we need ask only, "What would have happened if Tsai Ing-wen refused to visit Chen Shui-bian?"

Everyones' attention has been focused on President Ma Ying-jeou's first year in office. But DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen has also been DPP Chairperson for one year. One year ago, Tsai Ing-wen vowed to lead the DPP toward an "Era without Chen Shui-bian." But one year later, as an anniversary present, Tsai Ing-wen has actually visited the Taipei Detention Center.

Pale Green elements at all levels, reformist elements within the party, centrist voters, and others who still have expectations of the Democratic Progressive Party, have hoped that as DPP Chairperson, Tsai Ing-wen could lead the DPP out of the shadow of Chen Shui-bian. When she took office a year ago, she said that only by soul-searching can the DPP regain the public trust. But yesterday, when Tsai Ing-wen marched into the Taipei Detention Center, she symbolically signaled that the hopes of distancing the DPP from Chen Shui-bian over the past year have been shattered. Tsai Ing-wen's justification as DPP Chairman has also been shattered.

Politicians who hold important positions know that their political image depends on an implicit contract with society. Tsai Ing-wen's political image was predicated upon ridding the Democratic Progressive Party of Chen influences, on meeting the needs of the party and the expectations of society. This is the contract Chairman Tsai Ing-wen reached with reformers within the party and mainstream society. Today however, Tsai Ing-wen submitted her instrument of surrender to Chen Shui-bian. Her raison d'etre as DPP Chairperson has been nullified. Did Tsai Ing-wen betray her promise to reform the Democratic Progressive Party? Or did the DPP destroy Tsai Ing-wen?

Looking back, what would have happened had Tsai Ing-wen refused to visit Chen Shui-bian? The problem is Chen Shui-bian has used the May 17 protest march to take Tsai Ing-wen hostage. Tsai Ing-wen envisioned the May 17 march as an opportunity to "Denounce Ma, Defend Taiwan." But Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan independence forces have used the event to "Denounce Tsai, Defend Ah-Bian." First, Taiwan independence elements threatened to stage their own, separate protest in southern Taiwan. Next, Chen Shui-bian called for north and south to join forces. He called for Taiwan independence forces in the south to end their march in Kaohsiung and head north. One can imagine the "support Chen Shui-bian" and "denounce Tsai" slogans and incidents that were likely to occur. During past demonstrations, Tsai Ing-wen forbade support Chen Shui-bian banners and gestures. But this line of defense has now been broken. If Tsai were to hold firm, the denunciations of Tsai on May 17 would be ugly indeed.

Tsai Ing-wen's visit to the Taipei Detention Center was an attempt to preempt potential protests against her during the march. Gathered crowds have repeatedly asked her why she hadn't visited Chen Shui-bian. They denounced her as "heartless," right to her face. If Tsai Ing-wen did not bow to them, all sorts of embarrassing denunciations of Tsai were likely to occur. But on the other hand, this May 17 "Denounce Ma" march has become a kind of anvil on which Tsai Ing-wen's political image is being reforged. Tsai Ing-wen has effectively shredded her contract with society. Tsai Ing-wen, from this day hence, will no longer be the Tsai Ing-wen on whom so many people pinned their hopes.

This visit was obviously arranged. Frank Hsieh was first in line. Su Tseng-chang was second, but could not see him due to visiting restrictions. As a result Tsai and Su both went yesterday. Hsieh, Su, and Tsai have not been to the Taipei Detention Center in over one hundred days. Obviously they each have their own political calculus. But for each of them to schedule visits now was of course by mutual agreement. Each of them is looking after his or her own interests. If we look at past protest marches, Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP Central Committee's impregnable line of defense has now been breached in a hundred different places. Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan independence forces are now on the offensive. They once had to bite their tongues. Now they are the tail wagging the dog. Now they are in control. Taiwan independence forces want not merely to protest that Chen Shui-bian has been a victim of injustice. They want to hold Chen Shui-bian up as the spiritual leader of the DPP and the Taiwan independence movement. They have hijacked every Green Camp protest march held since last year's march on May 20. Again and again, they have used protests agains Ma as opportunities to further their own agenda. They have finally succeeded in forcing Tsai Ing-wen to visit the Taipei Detention Center. They have successfully transformed the protests into a denunciation of Tsai and a defense of Ah-Bian. Yesterday, when Tsai Ing-wen marched into the Taipei Detention Center, she effectively conceded leadership to Chen Shui-bian and the forces of Taiwan independence forces. Was this Tsai Ing-wen's intent when she orginally sought the party chairmanship last year? Is this the implicit contract drawn up between Tsai Ing-wen and reformers within the party and mainstream society?

We can now attempt to answer this question. What would have happened had Tsai Ing-wen refused to visit the Taipei Detention Center? Had she refused to visit the Taipei Detention Center, Taiwan independence forces would have used May 17 to force a showdown with her. She would have been put on the spot. The march would have been ruined. Therefore it is reasonable to speculate that Tsai Ing-wen visited the Taipei Detention Center in exchange for promises from Taiwan independence forces not to provoke a showdown on May 17. Tsai Ing-wen's status as chairperson and her political future requires the recognition and blessing of Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan independence elements.

Yesterday Tsai Ing-wen's raison d'etre as DPP Party Chairperson was shattered.

2009.05.15 06:03 am










Thursday, May 14, 2009

A March Not Rooted in Self-Pity?

A March Not Rooted in Self-Pity?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 14, 2009

The DPP got its start on the streets. It has no other strengths. All it knows is how to butt heads with the system. To its embarrassment, 20 years after the party was founded, the political situation has changed. Most embarrassing of all, this 20 year period includes eight years of Democratic Progressive Party rule. Yet its eight years in power failed to teach the DPP the importance of obeying the law. The DPP often forgets that when it butts heads with the system, the DPP was at one time the defender of the system.

For politicians to suffer from amnesia is not surprising. For the sake of power, they must change with the political winds. They must always weave some sort of rationale to convince themselves they are always right, and their opponents are always wrong. Unfortunately for them, the public's memory is better than theirs. What they did and what they said, the public remembers. It has been nearly a year since the second change in ruling parties. On the eve of the first anniversary of the Ma/Liu government's inauguration, the Democratic Progressive Party is again taking to the streets. It is organizing a May 17 "Protest Ma, Defend Taiwan March." As the opposition party, opposition to the party in power is perfectly normal. The Democratic Progressive Party has called for full public mobilization. It has set quotas for the marchers, and quotas for the tour buses, lest the public forget the Democratic Progressive Party aptitude at "remaking the world."

This is the first street demonstration launched by the DPP since it lost power. The Democratic Progressive Party has also produced two promotional videos. The first asks people whether they had enough to eat? It mocks the Ma administration for the past year's economic recession. Unfortunately for the DPP, the stock market refused to cooperate. It rose eight days in a row. The second video features former DPP Chairman Huang Hsing-chieh. He called for the masses to summon their past enthusiasm. Twenty years ago he strenuously protested the "ten thousand year parliament." He won support for direct presidential elections. But people were unmoved. Without these two films, people might not have been so strongly reminded of how far the DPP degenerated once it tasted power. It might not have felt such anguish over the eight years Taiwan lost as a result of Democratic Progressive Party misrule.

The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. It trumpeted its defense of "Taiwan's sovereignty." Meanwhile, the ROC found itself in dire diplomatic straits. Cross-Strait relations became increasingly tense. We were unable to join the WHO. We even became known in the international community as a troublemaker. The DPP government built "international airports" in cities and counties all over the island. These airports soon resembled ghost towns. The DPP's talk of doubling tourism became an empty boast. Its "Two Trillion, Twin Stars" plan was a day late and a dollar short. In the end it was only the Ma administration's mainland policy that brought Taiwan and foreign capital back to the island, and Mainland tourists to Taiwan to boost spending. The Democratic Progressive Party is castigating the Ma administration for "selling out Taiwan" even as the ROC is preparing to attend the WHA as an observer.

The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. It shouted empty "wage war on behalf of the economy" slogans for eight years. In the end the only war it waged was on behalf of its own ideology. Now that it is again out of power, the Democratic Progressive Party has reverted to peddling its false idol of Taiwan independence. It is attempting to delude the public on Taiwan. DPP officials denounce the Ma administration for recognizing Mainland academic credentials, even as their own spouses work toward degrees at Mainland universities. DPP officials obstruct the opening of cross-strait economic and trade, even as its own officials conduct business on the Mainland. DPP officials shout themselves hoarse denouncing the Parade and Assembly Law as a relic of the martial law era. Meanwhile they forget that they were in power for eight years, during which they made not the slightest move to amend this unconstitutional law. DPP officials accuse the Ma administration of turning the clock back on democracy. Meanwhile have they ever reflected upon their own eight years in office? What if anything did they do for democracy? Twenty years after Taiwan's political liberalization, all they can do is spout the same old political platitudes, and play the same old political games.

For an opposition party to engage in confrontation is perfectly natural. But it must offer convincing reasons for its opposition. If it cannot offer hard data to prove its case, at least it should offer a reasoned argument. What is the DPP's argument? DPP officials have declared they will take to the streets. They may even even stay overnight. They boast that they are even "willing to be arrested and jailed." In order to avoid conflicts, the Taipei City Government has urged the KMT to withdraw its application for a similar permit on May 18. It is allowing the DPP to protest. But the DPP is utterly unappreciative. It is unwilling to abide by existing legal norms. it forgets that when the Red Shirt Army took to the streets to protest Chen Shui-bian and his family's corruption, the DPP invoked the very same law they oppose to prevent the Red Shirt Army from passing through cities and counties ruled by the Democratic Progressive Party.

The primary battlefield in a democracy is in the halls of parliament. Yet the DPP had the temerity to barricade itself inside the Legislature, preventing the Legislature from conducting business. Its primary motive in taking to the streets is to provoke violent conflict. When the Democratic Progressive Party was in power it sanctimoniously demanded that opposition parties behave as the "loyal opposition." But the Pan Blue opposition parties never barricaded themselves inside the Legislature by attaching locks to the doors of the Legislature. They never led the masses onto the streets for the express purpose of provoking violent clashes. Now that the DPP is in the opposition, it refuses to behave as a loyal opposition party. But the least it can do is behave as a responsible opposition party. If it has the ability to lead the masses onto the streets, it has the responsibilty to ensure that they safely return home. It should at least be able to find its own way home.

The ROC has undergone two ruling party changes. Its political system is not in danger of collapsing, dire warnings by the Democratic Progressive Party to the contrary notwithstanding. Instead, it is the Democratic Progressive Party that faces a crisis. The Democratic Progressive Party is doing nothing for the public on Taiwan. It is doing nothing for social progress. At least it should do something for itself. It should hold a peaceful demonstration. it should refrain from mawkish appeals to self-pity. It should ensure that incidents of violence do not leave an indelible stamp on the DPP's forehead reading, "The Party of Violence."

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.05.14









Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good Cross-Strait Economic Relations Equals Good Cross-Strait Political Relations

Good Cross-Strait Economic Relations Equals Good Cross-Strait Political Relations
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 12, 2009

ECFA is not on the agenda of the fourth round of talks later this year, leading to all sorts of speculation and debate. Some people think it has merely been postponed, not ruled out. Some people think Beijing has no intention of going along with it, and that ECFA is probably done for.

Over the past year, the two sides have made unprecedented progress in cross-Strait relations. But the rapid development of cross-Strait relations means economics must be brought in synch with politics. Some people think the Ma administration's concept of "first economics, then politics" is "only economics, no politics." They think the Ma administration is too pro-Beijing. They fear that if Taiwan's economy is integrated with the Mainland's, Taiwan's poltical system will be as well. Others think that the Ma administration's concept of "first economics, then politics" is perceived by Beijing as a variation of the two-states theory. They think cross-Strait mutual trust is on the brink of disintegration, and that is why the mainland has little interest in ECFA.

These two viewpoints differ sharply. But they are a matter of opinion. One side thinks Ma Ying-jeou is pro-Beijing, and therefore Taiwan will be swallowed up by the mainland. The other side thinks Ma Ying-jeou is pro-independence, and Beijing has targeted him for punishment.

Actually, the Ma administration is not the only one to endorse the concept of "first economics, then politics." The Beijing authorities also hold this view. Their intention is to ease the pressure on both sides, to create more breathing room, to separate economics from politics, and to give economics priority over politics. But what isn't political between the two sides? How can the institutionalization of cross-Strait economic interaction not have political repercussions? Are the three links purely economic? Aren't they political? Are financial agreement purely economic? Aren't they political?

The rapid institutionalization of cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges over the past year was a highly political decision. The two sides knew what the political impact would be. The political impact may make Taiwan independence even less possible. But Beijing also knows it must forsake military force as a means of achieving reunification. Cross-Strait relations are currently in a state of "neither reunification, nor independence, both reunification, and independence." It is in an upward spriral, contained within a framework of peaceful development.

Such a strategy ensures that Taiwan is unable to declare independence, and that Beijing is unable to compel reunification. Beijing hopes that Taiwan independence sentiment on Taiwan will fade. The Ma administration hopes to turn cross-Strait hostility into a win-win scenario of peaceful coexistence. Beijing hopes of course to move toward reunification. It knows it must first convince the public on Taiwan. It must pass the test of democracy. The Ma administration does not advocate Taiwan independence. But "no independence" plus "no reunification" involves a delicate balance. Under the circumstances, Beijing knows that no government on Taiwan that advocates reunification can survive. The Ma administration also knows the "two states theory" cannot resolve the cross-Strait impasse.

In this delicate balance, what Taipei wants is for Beijing to realize that Taipei is not hostile toward it. What Beijing wants is for the public on Taiwan to understand that improved cross-Strait relations will enhance Taipei's dignity and interests. After all, the Taiwan region has a vibrant system of government. The majority of the public wants to maintain the status quo. Therefore the authorities in Taipei dare not engage in Taiwan independence. Nor can the authorities in Beijing demote the authorities in Taipei to the status of Beijing's "caretaker government." Beijing is unlikely to harbor such illusions. Therefore Beijing is unlikely to resort to violence to achieve reunification. It cannot turn Taipei into its charity case via procurement policies. That is not what the public on Taiwan wants from cross-Strait relations. Nor can it make the public on Taiwan feel good about cross-Strait relations by such means. Most importantly, it is not conducive to Taipei's survival and development. If the ROC finds it difficult to survive and develop because Beijing undermines cross-Strait relations, Beijing will also feel the pressure.

Therefore, we believe ECFA has merely been postponed, not necessarily ruled out. If our speculation is incorrect, we hope the situation can be turned around. After all, ECFA or CECA was Hu Jintao's idea, as formulated in his Six Points. High ranking officials in Beijing have repeatedly declared that "the name is not important." The authorities on both sides claim that ECFA is "economic in nature." But as we said earlier, it is essentially a political decision, and will have profound a political impact. Because of ECFA, the two sides will have a better framework for win/win, mutually beneficial peaceful development.

It is unnecessary to put bilateral opportunities and thinking over the past year into a stereotypical "reunification vs. independence" framework. As long as the two sides maintain good economic relations, there will be good political relations. The political impact will be positive. The result will be better than independence, and also better than reunification.

Therefore declaimers that the two sides are "only talking about economics and not politics" are untrue.

2009.05.13 04:38 am











Peace Dividend, Capital Convergence

Peace Dividend, Capital Convergence
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 12, 2009

Huge Rise! Swift Rise! Wild Rise! Insane Rise! Reckless Rise! The Fourth Chiang/Chen Meeting reached four agreements and one consensus. Increasing stock market momentum then inspired the above headlines.

We have enjoyed an eight-day winning streak. This wave of stock market rises is a response to a changed reality. It also reflects the expectations of society. The phenomenon can be summed up as "peace dividend, capital convergence."

By "response to a changed reality," we mean that investors can see the practical results of the institutionalization of cross-Strait trade and economic interaction. By "expectations of society," we mean that the practical achievements may be less than perfect. But investor psychology has idealized its potential.

In fact, a huge gap remains between real word achievements and society's expectations, Investors refer to this wave of market rises as "market psychology." That means psychological factors have overridden actual market conditions. So the next question is, how can the energy behind this capital be directed into specific investments such as trade? Otherwise, if we remain stuck in speculation, the stock market will remain mere "market psychology." A stock market bubble can pop in the blink of an eye.

The atmosphere of a "peace dividend" has formed. But we talk about dividends, we should first establish what we mean by peace. Only then can we ensure that any dividend does not come to nothing. Peace should mean that cross-Strait relations will be conducted on the basis of the general welfare and rule by the people. It should eschew force and intrigue. This will avoid the dilemma of "who will gobble up whom." It should be a mutually beneficial "What's good for you is good for me, what's good for me is good for you" win/win scenario.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan said that for cross-Strait exchanges, rhythm is more important than tempo. Actually, for cross-Strait exchanges, melody is even more important than rhythm or tempo. As long as the melody is "peaceful development / win-win," and as long as we keep the public welfare and the rule of the people in mind, the rhythm and tempo will come naturally. Conversely, if we deviate from the theme of "peaceful development/ win-win," the rhythm and tempo are sure to lose synch, resulting in mere noise. In other words, without peace as the melody, any expectation of a dividend will be in vain.

The guiding theme of cross-Strait relations is the "peace dividend." At the operational level it is the "convergence of three forms of capital." The convergence of the three forms of capital creates a virtuous circle. The reality and imagined potential of mainland capital has restored the vitality and power of Taiwan capital. If Taiwan capital and mainland capital are invested in production, they will attract foreign capital. Three forms of capital will then converge. Two conditions are essential. First, the capital must not be "hot money." It must be invested in production, not merely be used to speculate. Second, foreign capital must pass certain benchmark tests. Inflows of foreign capital will prove that Taiwan's economy is showing genuine improvement. Of course this includes Taiwan's ability to successfully sign FTA with other countries.

Overall improvements and upgrades in cross-Strait relations and economic and trade exchanges should create a positive market trend. But some individuals are still opposed, still skeptical, still uneasy. That is because they lack confidence and harbor deep suspicions regarding cross-Strait "peaceful development / win-win." They worry, won't Taiwan will be gobbled up by the mainland? Won't Taiwan become feedstock for Beijing's "procurement policy?"

Such concerns are understandable. But there is no need for excessive pessimism. Beijing has chosen a cross-Strait policy of peaceful development over force. That means it must uphold the general welfare and the rule of the people. The framework for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations must maintain the dignity and defend the interests of the public on Taiwan. Beijing will of course express goodwill by allowing mainland tourists to come to Taiwan to spend money. It is unlikely to imagine that it can "buy" Taiwan by means of mainland capital. In fact Taiwan cannot be be supported by mainland capital alone. Therefore Beijing's policies must hew to the principle of "peaceful development / win-win." They must maintain the dignity of the public on Taiwan. The public on Taiwan must feel that a "peaceful development / win-win" cross-strait policy is trustworthy and worth pursuing.

When improving cross-Strait relations, peace is more important than money. Without genuine peace, any capital will be at political risk. Conversely, the establishment of a theme of "peaceful development / win-win" will surely honor peace, the rule of the people, and the public welfare. With peace as the melody, the rhythm and tempo will follow in due course.

和平紅利 三資匯流
2009.05.12 03:28 am











Monday, May 11, 2009

Cross-Strait Relations: Time for Problem Solving

Cross-Strait Relations: Time for Problem Solving
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
May 11, 2009

The one year anniversary of the Ma administration's inauguration is approaching. Although the broad outlines remain unclear, President Ma's cross-Strait concepts and policies have increasingly diverged from the Green Camp's. These differences show up in the opening of cross-Strait transportation, tourism, finance, culture, and education. More importantly, the thinking behind Ma's policies is entirely different. President Ma's public declarations since April have made this abundantly clear. His rhetoric has two themes. One is that "geography trumps history." The other is "first economics, then politics." At first glance these two themes are nothing new. But in the context of cross-Straits relations over the past several decades, the differences are quite striking.

His emphasis on "geography over history" stresses Taiwan's geographical location, and not historical disputes. He hopes to take maximum advantage of the world's top five economic regions, including the US to the east, Japan to the north, the Mainland to the west, and ASEAN to the south. He hopes to make Taiwan the hub of these economic zones. Frankly, this is nothing new. Lee Teng-hui's so-called "Asia-Pacific Regional Operations Center" plan and Chen Shui-bian's "global operations center" were also based on Taiwan's unique geographical location. Since this is nothing new, why has it remained stuck in the slogan stage over the past decade, regardless of how many "Such and Such Center" concepts have been floated? The key lies in not thinking in terms of historical disputes.

For a long time the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and politics on Taiwan have remained mired in historical enmities. Countless contradictions and tensions prevented normal interaction and dialogue. This made it impossible for cross-Strait relations to fully enter a post-Cold War, post-Civil War era. By the same token, the historical tragedy has prevented society on Taiwan from fully entering a post-authoritarian, post-colonial era. Japan's Representative to Taipei Masaki Saito said "Taiwan's status is undetermined." This Immediately triggered different reactions and suspicions. It makes no difference whether Saito made these remarks intentionally or accidentally. If the incident escalates, it will surely have serious political consequences. The Ma administration chose to cool matters immediately, The dispute ended quickly. If not for its "geography trumps history" thinking, it could have generated plenty of political hay.

If we want geography to trump history and maximize our marginal utility, we must of course think "first economics, then politics." Ma's public statements have repeatedly stressed that he will only deal with cross-Strait economic issues. After all, current cross-Strait economic issues, such as the signing of a MOU, which affects financial interaction, or ECFA, which affects broader economic cooperation, are complex and difficult enough. They cannot be rushed. They will require considerable consultation and communication. They will require the gradual establishment of relevant mechanisms. Perhaps this is why President Ma told the media in Singapore that he would consider discussing cross-Strait political issues only if he was re-elected in 2012. Perhaps this explains why so far President Ma has not made any high level reponse to the highly political "Hu's Six Points."

Ma's "first economics, then politics" thinking is also not novel or original. But it is an important reversal in the handling of cross-Strait issues. When politics trumped economics, cross-Strait relations remained mired in confrontation and demagoguery, rather than the solving of concrete problems. When the two sides could only engage in confrontation and demagoguery, cross-Strait relations could only remain hostile and trapped in a vicious circle of conflict. The same was true on Taiwan. It could never shake off mutual suspicion and mutual recriminations. A perfect example is the cross-Strait stalemate, which has extended to confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan over the past few years.

Once economics trumps politics, then cross-Strait relations ceases to be a tool for politicians to manipulate. It becomes a means of solving practical problems, one after another. Taiwan is no longer being manipulated by means of such political issues as plebiscites, the authoring of a new constitution, and the founding of a new nation. Such issues intensify cross-Strait conflict and increase confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties. Consultations on cross-Strait shipping, tourism, investment, academic credentials involve only rational calculation, not the manipulation of negative emotions. More importantly, it forces politicians who would plunge the world into chaos to withdraw from the political stage. It permits professionals with specific problem solving abilities to make their debut.

Of course, no one would be so obtuse as set aside all historical disputes on the basis that "geography trumps history." Nor would anyone deliberately ignore political factors because he advocated "first economics, then politics." Indeed many problems are difficult to de-politicize. A leader demonstrates his political wisdom by how he handles such difficulties.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.05.11