Friday, February 26, 2010

Foreign Diplomacy Must Be Neither Blue nor Green

Foreign Diplomacy Must Be Neither Blue nor Green
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 26, 2010

A Republic of China airliner donated to Panama for the purpose of disaster relief, is now being used as the Panamanian president's personal airliner. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has submitted a special report to the Control Yuan. The Control Yuan says our government was clearly duped. But it has urged both the Blue and Green parties to maintain a united diplomatic front. That is not merely how the Control Yuan sees it. That is also how the public sees it.

Frankly, the airliner misuse incident took us to the cleaners. The airliner was a donation, intended for disaster relief. But the president of Panama said he needed it for himself, even when it was needed for disaster relief. Since it was a gift, our government has no right to demand its return. It would be difficult to force the Panamanin president to use it as intended. If the Panamanian legislature or judiciary investigate, the government can of course explain the situation and provide information. Otherwise there is little it can do. Governments and politicians in Latin America are considerably less evolved than they are in more advanced nations. The ROC government looks askance at widespread corruption within these nations. Especially when their politicians embezzle foreign aid we have provided. It is even more intolerable that such corruption has given us a bad name. We have no desire to precipitate a show down and invite a backlash. Also, other politicians may not be any better. We could end up offending the current leader, when his replacements are no better. If the problem is not too serious, it is better to maintain the relationship, as long as it remains within tolerable limits. Therefore the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may have been disgruntled, but reacted in a low-keyed manner.

In fact, ever since Taipei and Beijing implemented their "diplomatic truce," the two sides have had a tacit understanding not to recruit the other's diplomatic allies. Governments hoping to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing have been rebuffed. In this regard, Beijing has indeed demonstrated genuine goodwill. Some governments don't understand this new form of cross-Strait interaction. They still resort to blackmail in attempts to extract concessions from Taipei. When they can't, they are shocked and disappointed. Taipei has examined its past practices. It is no longer willing to issue blank checks or swallow its pride. Requests for assistance require the submission of detailed plans. Economic aid requires closer monitoring and greater transparency. These changes require closer communication. They require support from each other's legislatures, citizenry, media, and judiciaries. Only then can we lay a foundation for diplomatic relations between two countries. Only then can we check and balance politicians' empty words or attempts at defamation.

The Control Yuan understands the government's diplomatic quandary. The Blue and Green camps must present a unified front to the outside world. They must not use diplomatic controversies to divide or embarrass society. Many people feel the same way. Taipei and Beijing have declared a temporary cease fire in their battle for Latin American diplomatic allies. The Republic of China's diplomatic service is no longer in constant fear of losing diplomatic allies. It no longer needs to nervously tally up its diplomatic allies. This is because Bejing has eased up, not because the cross-Strait strategic picture has changed. Perhaps over time, the international community will arrive at a new perspective. But a change has yet to occur. Taipei's status on the international stage remains inferior to Beijing's. Beijing's economic strength has also been elevated, relatively speaking, as a result of the global recession. This is the Big Picture Taipei faces. It will be the same no matter who comes to power, Blue or Green.

Behind closed doors, we may engage in lively political debate. But when we throw the doors open to the outside world, Republic of China citizens must act in unision. We share the same fate, the same national interests, and the same vision. We all want a peaceful, secure, prosperous, and dignified environment in which to live. On this there is no difference between any of us. Any political party must subordinate itself to this imperative, and attempt to fulfill the people's basic desires. No political party should use the national interest as a tool for political struggle. They should understand how difficult international diplomacy is. They must not stand on the sidelines and engage in sniping.

Taipei's diplomatic predicament has its roots on the opposite shore. In order to make any breakthroughs, cross-Strait relations must change. A peaceful form of interaction must be found, allowing Taipei to survive and prosper. A truce is not a rest break. Taipei cannot afford to rest. Taipei may engage in cross-Strait reconciliation and attempt to bring countrymen on both sides closer together. But Taipei has no other bargaining chips that can persuade Beijing to maintain a diplomatic truce. The truce provides Taipei with precious time and space, to ensure its future survival. It enables Taipei to maintain its relationships with existing diplomatic allies. Taipei must also seek to return to the international scene. It must shift its energies from past cross-Strait and diplomatic struggles to something more meaningful. For example, we have postponed our efforts to rejoin the United Nations. We have attempted instead to participate in organizations on the periphery, such as those concerned with civil aviation and climate change. The public hopes that our diplomatic service will eventually have something to show for its efforts. Whether Taipei will once again be invited to the World Health Assembly in May as an observer is now the focus of attention.

When it comes to the national interest, there is no Blue or Green. This includes viable, synergistic cross-Strait relations. This includes public aspirations regarding diplomacy, economics, and public welfare. Such a goal may be easy to talk about. But it is one that politicians must take seriously.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.26
社論-外交不分藍綠 台灣才能走出去








Thursday, February 25, 2010

Climate Change and the Green Revolution

Climate Change and the Green Revolution
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 25, 2010

The documentary film "± 2 ℃" documents climate change on Taiwan. It was filmed last August in the wake of Typhoon Morakot. Yesterday, five months later, it premiered in Japan. Government and business leaders attended in droves. The major media provided full coverage. The presidents of the five Yuan attended. Heads of major industrial firms turned out. This film was a sensation, and raised hopes for those concerned about environmental issues.

The documentary "± 2 ℃" was Taiwan's version of "An Inconvenient Truth." The documentary explores global warming and climate change from Taiwan's perspective. People on Taiwan will be among the first climate refugees. We hope the film will teach the public and the government the importance of environmental protection.

Global warming is an old problem. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Panel (IPCC) believes that a two Celsius degree rise in global temperature poses a threat to mankind's survival. If the temperature drops two Celsius degrees, our children and grandchildren may survive. The documentary touched off a new wave of concern for global warming on Taiwan. But besides being emotionally moved, how can the public and the government confront the problem and take effective action?

According to newspaper reports, when President Ma Ying-jeou presided over his Chinese New Years gathering in the presidential palace, he expressed concern over the climate change addressed in the film "± 2 ℃." President Ma urged staffers to implement energy-saving and carbon reduction measures. He urged them to save energy, water, paper, and oil, and work together to save the planet. Non-governmental environmental groups however have been critical. The government has asked the public to save energy and reduce carbon. But the Taiwan Power Company is still rushing to build power plants everywhere. The government continues to give priority to industries such as the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Company and major steel producers. The environment is under assault from massive construction projects and deforestation. Based on public and private sector reactions, we remain in the "concerned" stage. We have a long way to go before we actually implement concrete energy conservation and carbon reduction measures in our daily lives.

The Taiwan region has an island climate. It has the second highest population density in the world. Many are forced to live in places unfit for human habitation. Add to this rapid soil erosion and frequent typhoons. Taiwan will not escape a string of predictable disasters caused by global warming.

Climatologists have warned that global warming is a growing problem. Between 2020 and 2037, the polar icecaps will probably disappear. The sea level will rise six meters. Under the circumstances, people on Taiwan, in Vietnam, Bangladesh, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean will become the world's first climate refugees. Coastal plains on Taiwan lower than 100 meters above sea level will become uninhabitable. Chiayi Tungshih, Pingtung Linbian, Tungkang, and Yunlin Mailiao will be inundated. Next to succumb may be the Taipei Basin, Kaohsiung, and Lanyang Plain. If sea levels continue to rise, the next group to be impacted will be the river delta regions mentioned in the 2009 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report. The most endangered regions on Taiwan are the Lanyang plain, the Taipei Basin (Taipei) and Kaohsiung City.

Last year, during Typhoon Morakot, Mount Ali accumulated nearly 3000 millimeters of rainfall. Scholars estimate that if half of Typhoon Morakot's rainfall had fallen on the Shihmen Reservoir, the dam might have burst. Two or three hundred million tons of water would have inundated Sanxia in Taipei County, Tucheng, Banqiao, and Xinzhuang. Taipei City and Taipei County would have become a veritable "Waterworld." By that time, the Taipei 101 Building would have become a isolated island in the midst of raging waters.

Global warming is worsening. Heavy rainstorms are more frequent. Due to its topography, the prospects for Taiwan are grimmer than for Mainland China, Japan and other regions of Asia. In the future, typhoons will become more frequent and more powerful. Rainfall will become more extreme. Severe droughts are followed by heavy rains. Heat waves are followed by frigid winters. Soil erosion on Taiwan is increasingly serious. Morakot will not remain an isolated case.

Faced with such catastrophes, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Group has asked all governments, including the government of the Republic of China, to invest in a massive green revolution. At this critical moment, we propose that everyone write a letter to the President, urging him, as the leader of the nation, to save our nation, save our children, and fulfill our responsibilities to the global village. He must elevate climate security to the level of national security. The legislature is considering a greenhouse gas reduction act, to be known as the Climate Security Act. The bill will implement global warming measures. The national budget should also be re-allocated. In particular, the budget for national defense should be allocated to green energy, and vice-versa, increasing our investment in green energy. A comprehensive review of energy-consuming industries must be conducted. Only such measures will truly address the issue of climate change

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.25
社論-面對±2℃ 快進行大規模綠色革命










Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NSC Appointments and the Dual Leadership Dilemma

NSC Appointments and the Dual Leadership Dilemma
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 24, 2010

Yesterday Su Chi, the outgoing Secretary-General of the National Security Council, turned over his job to successor Hu Wei-chen. Everyones' attention is now focused on the differences between the two appointees. But everyone has ignored the institutional problems behind the personnel change. Bluntly speaking, President Ma Ying-jeou's "dual executive system" is in trouble and must be rescued.

Su Chi said his phase of the mission is complete, and that he is resigning for reasons of health and family. This of course was a ruse. The real reasons for his resignation are the controversies over foreign relief during the 8/8 Floods and US beef imports. These were major issues among the public and within the administration. Su Chi refused to clarify matters or to brook criticism. He valued his own image, and resigned in a huff. One might say that Su Chi couldn't stand the heat, so he got out of the kitchen. But at a deeper level, the main reason was the failure of the dual executive system.

The dual executive system is a legacy of the French Fifth Republic. In fact the dual executive system, according to both the spirit and the letter of the law, has a single central government leader. When the presidency and the legislature are controlled by the same party, the president is the chief executive. When the presidency and the legislature are not controlled by the same party, the president appoints a premier supported by a legislative majority. This premier is the chief executive. Rather than referring to it as a dual executive system, it would be more accurate to refer to it as an executive power rechanneling system, or chief executive rechanneling system. In other words, under the Fifth Republic, the leader's unique role is integrated into the system, because it rechannels authority as part of its day to day operations.

Our constitution is nominally modeled on the Fifth Republic's. But it is a semi-finished, pale imitation. According to current legal provisions, the president is responsible for cross-Strait relations, foreign diplomacy, and national defense. But the MAC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Defense are under the Executive Yuan. According to the constitution, the premier is the head of state. As a consequence, two problems have arisen. First, a dual executive system has arisen despite the rule of law. If the president presides over foreign affairs, why was foreign relief for the 8/8 Floods left up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Conversely, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must consult the National Security Council over foreign relief, how can the Presidential Office evade responsibility for the decision, and blame the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Secondly, problems have arisen over who formulates national policy. Take US beef imports. The National Security Council considers this a matter for presidential diplomacy. But the Department of Health must deal with its domestic political repercussions. When the National Security Council's decisions departed from the Department of Health's, a major political storm erupted. Nor was that all. During the US beef imports controversy, the Presidential Office, the cabinet, and the Executive Yuan House each found themselves on a different page. Eventually the KMT Chairman and the KMT legislative caucus amended the law, abrogating US beef import decisions made by the Presidential Office and the cabinet. What was this, if not a political circus?

Under the Lee Teng-hui regime, the dual-leadership system wreaked havoc. The public still recalls how Lee Teng-hui, speaking through Liu Tai-ying, humiliated Premier Vincent Siew. During the Chen Shui-bian era, Chen ignored the executive authority rechanneling system. His minority government stonewalled for eight years. Now Ma Ying-jeou is in office. He was elected president with a landslide 7.65 million votes. His party commands an absolute majority in the legislature. Yet he remains incapable of assuming "full authority and full responsibility." The Presidential Office, the cabinet, the Executive Yuan, and the party remain poorly coordinated. Deadlocks between the two executives are common. Su Chi's resignation underscores the seriousness of the problem.

France's dual executive system has already undergone transformation, to a rechanneling system. It should in fact be characterized as a single executive system. The legal provisions that assigned foreign diplomacy and national defense to the president have undermined the formulation of national policy, albeit not as seriously as the legal provisions that assigned cross-Strait issues, foreign diplomacy, and national defense to the president. As mentioned earlier, our dual executive system is a semi-finished, pale imitation of the French Fifth Republic's. It is a camel instead of a horse. Especially unfortunate is President Ma's leadership style. On the one hand, he adheres too rigidly to certain rules, in defiance of all logic. For example, he once declared that disaster preparedness measures and expressing sympathy for disaster victims, were the responsibility of the premier. On the other hand, President Ma lacks the ability to make things happen outside the institutional framework. The government and its policy-making system are fragmented. He lacks the ability to integrate the Presidential Office, the cabinet, the Executive Yuan, and the party, and assume "full authority and full responsibility." The inevitable result has been a dual executive system more akin to a camel than a horse.

The dual executive system is a "semi-finished product." It is deformed. Hence the need for a leadership better able to coordinate and repair the defects in the system. Given inadequate integration between the party and the government, Ma Ying-jeou must become a leader who assumes "full authority and full responsibility." He must ensure that his administration operates smoothly across the board.

2010.02.24 03:29 am








Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taoyuan International Airport Requires Tourism Marketing

Taoyuan International Airport Requires Tourism Marketing
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 23, 2010

A nation's international airport is its front door. Foreign visitors receive their first impression of a nation through its airport. Their last impression of a nation is also of its airport. Building technology on Taiwan may be advanced. But in many respects the Republic of China's front door is far from satisfactory.

International competition is fierce. It is like sailing against the wind. Failure to advance amounts to retreat. Other countries are progressing by leaps and bounds. If we merely mark time, we will soon be left behind. This is true for both airport facilities and airport services. Governments everywhere are scrambling to create a positive image of their country, by putting on their best face. But the Republic of China has been negligent. Its front door is tasteless and bland. The impression it leaves is negative.

Today the Airports Council International (ACI) made public its 2009 Airport Service Quality Awards. Asian countries shone. The top five airports were Seoul Incheon International Airport, Singapore Changi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, and Hyderabad Rajiv Ghandi International Airport. Incheon International Airport has come in first for five consecutive years. Changi and Chek Lap Kok Airport have also been leaders. They must be given credit for their international acclaim.

Now let's look at our own Taoyuan International Airport. In 2007 it ranked 14th. In 2008 it fell to 18th. In 2009 it plummeted to 27th. This is disgraceful and humiliating. Why are certain leading international airports always paragons? Taoyuan is the front door to one of Asia's Four Tigers. When even Beijing and Hyderabad are catching up, why is Taoyuan falling behind? The numbers do not lie, and warrant our attention.

Travelers who have visited the aforementioned Asian cities immediately notice the difference, the most obvious difference being popularity. Incheon, Changi, and Chek Lap Kok are popular. They are filled with a wide variety of passengers of different ethnic backgrounds and skin colors, wearing different kinds of clothing. The restaurants overflow with diners. The gift shops overflow with customers. The impression conveyed is one of cutting edge international metropolises, bubbling with dynamism.

Airline security measures, transfers, transiting, and customs clearance are often time consuming. Families loaded down with large and small packages find the experience especially burdensome. Passengers are often stuck at airports for a long time. If the facilities and services are well thought out, the impression it leaves will be dramatic. Word of mouth will spread.

Not every international airport makes the grade. But good airports leave visitors with long-lasting, positive impressions. Some have spacious and comfortable lounge areas, smoking areas, and rest rooms. Some have internet services indispensable to the modern traveler. Some airports understand the needs of transit passengers. They provide showers, hair salons, and leisure facilities, allowing the weary traveler to recuperate. Some provide locally themed restaurants and shops attractive to international travelers.

Taoyuan International Airport, by contrast, is in many respects rather rudimentary. The restaurants are unimpressive, both in quantity and quality. They fail to showcase Taiwan's rich cuisine, and the prices range from excessive to outrageous. The shops lack local color. The terminal building lacks style, both inside and outside. It lacks an overall concept. It fails to provide the services consumers expect and need. Even the handcarts are difficult to use. Travelers are feel alienated and out in the cold. Add to this inconvenient transportation links to the outside world. The Taoyuan Airport and other domestic airports lack connections to local MRT systems. In short, Taoyuan is not an airport befitting an international city.

Other international airports are boldly designed and intelligently operated. By contrast, our tired administrative practices are clearly behind the times. Given existing practices, any breakthrough is unlikely. Therefore international airport operations should be placed under the auspices of the central government. Both the "software" and the "hardware" for the Taoyuan International Airport must be upgraded. Transportation must facilitate the marketing of local tourism, local culture, and other tourist resources. Ways must be found to transform Taiwan into an Asian transportation hub. The upgrading of airport services is merely one link in this chain.

A unified effort is required because Taoyuan International Airport lacks patronage. A lack of patronage increases operating costs. To overcome this problem requires greater government support, at least initially. In the long term however, what is required is a bold and farsighted national marketing plan. Dressing up the nation's front door will require more than just a coat of paint.

It will require higher level decision-making. High-level decision-makers must realize the importance of this issue. Taoyuan International Airport's ranking has been falling steadily. The central government must realize that this is not about Taoyuan Airport alone.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.23
社論-結合觀光行銷 桃園機場才不會輸人












Friday, February 12, 2010

ECFA: Among the Clouds

ECFA: Among the Clouds
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 12, 2010

President Ma Ying-jeou recently took to the battlefield. He spoke directly to the public, explaining the necessity of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). But yesterday National Security Council Secretary General Su Chi announced his resignation, explaining that "this phase of the mission has been accomplished." Communications between President Ma and the public, and between President Ma and his advisors appear to have broken down yet again.

President Ma is of course not so naive as to imagine that a single speech will allay public doubts. But his recent speech has raised new concerns. It has made the prospect of ECFA even more remote. It highlights the government's confused strategy to promote ECFA. ECFA now resides among the clouds.

President Ma's press conference was entitled "Presidential Report: Cross-Strait Economic Agreement." It used plain language to explain its purpose: "helping people do business, enhancing Taiwan's competitiveness." It stressed ECFA's legitimacy. But in order to benefit from this huge business opportunity, some sectors must pay a price. President Ma did not evade this point. He proposed remedies. He attempted to allay public concerns about diminished sovereignty. He said the administration would pay close attention to concerns about equality, dignity, reciprocity and proportionality. In general, President Ma was sincere in his communications. He displayed confidence in his policy. But in terms of content, he seemed to be spinning his wheels. Things he was afraid to speak remained unspoken. Not only did existing doubts remain, even more doubts were raised.

The first doubt concerns the timetable. President Ma said there is no timetable for signing ECFA. But MAC, the Executive Yuan, and the Presidential Office all made clear that the target date was the Fifth Chiang-Chen Meeting during the first half of this year. Now President Ma says there is no timetable. Is President Ma reverting to "political language?" Or as SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung put it, have negotiations over ECFA entered a "more difficult" stage? Current signs suggest it is the latter. President Ma's remark that he has no timetable may also be true. Changes are being made to ECFA's original timetable.

The second doubt relates to the first. If negotiations over ECFA are "more difficult," just how much more difficult are they? Ever since the administration began promoting ECFA, the issues have been over-simplified. To defuse public concerns, this must be addressed. The administration emphasizes only the benefits of signing ECFA. It never talks about where the two sides disagree. Disagreements include terminology, tax relief and tax increase issues, market opening, and the scope and direction of long-term economic cooperation. These disagreements constitute barriers. Problems abound. But so far none of them have been discussed. Perhaps the administration considers it too hard to explain. But to play down the complexity leaves the public with the impression the administration is engaging in "black ops." It raises suspicions about the government's negotiations. CommonWealth Magazine recently released its survey of 1000 Leading CEOs. Ninety percent of them supported ECFA. But nearly half of the CEOs worried that the administration would not be able to protect Taiwan's interests. If even the elites have such misgivings, then misgivings at the grassroots level are probably even deeper.

Can the administration state the issues clearly? That is our third doubt. The administration has sketched out ECFA's broad outlines. But it remains vague about the specifics. The two sides are currently discussing the content of ECFA. Both sides are negotiating over their own interests. Obviously neither side can show its hand prematurely. Obviously the administration cannot say anything for the moment. Therefore the public has been told the same thing about ECFA a thousand times. Hearing the same message a thousand times leads to numbness or even skepticism. Negotiations are ongoing. The details of any imminent market opening have yet to be revealed. Our side has asked for tariff relief. President Ma declared in advance that he would not allow Mainland agricultural products in. This has slowed negotiations to a crawl. How will ECFA look when it finally emerges from the talks? The administration can't be sure. Therefore how can President Ma make it any clearer?

These doubts show that the administration underestimated the ability of the public to rationally debate the issue from day one. It overestimated the power of political ideology. It prettified, simplified, diluted, and blurred the issue. The counterproductive result was public skepticism. After the Spring Festival, the ruling and opposition parties must communicate more closely over ECFA. ECFA must be brought back down to earth, out of the clouds. It must become tangible to the public. The Ma administration must redouble its efforts.

Su Chi may have "accomplished this phase of the mission." But President Ma hasn't.

2010.02.12 03:34 am









Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ma Administration Should Change Its Strategy for ECFA

The Ma Administration Should Change Its Strategy for ECFA
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 11, 2010

On Februrary 9, President Ma personally took to the frontlines. He went on live television and explained the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to the public. But after listening to President Ma's speech, pundits said that while they appreciated President Ma's sincerity, the commander in chief personally taking to the frontlines failed to win them over on ECFA.

President Ma's speaking style stresses detailed reasoning and logic. Such a style may convince a rational audience. But it will put emotionally-oriented members of the public to sleep. The problem is that everyone thinks the administration needs to convince emotionally-oriented members of the public. That is why the Ministry of Economic Affairs recently suggested "inviting Yen Ching-piao to present an argument." The Ma Administration should do a better job of communicating the meaning of ECFA to the public. But what strategy should it adopt? What PR theme will do the trick? This is something to which it needs to give serious thought. It must look before it leaps. Here are our views on the matter, and our recommendations.

Until recently, the tug of war between the ruling and opposition parties over ECFA involved the DPP going on the offensive, and the KMT adopting a defensive posture. Going on the offensive meant the DPP alleging that once ECFA was signed, certain industries would be affected and certain people would lose their jobs. It meant alleging that economic and trade exchanges between Taiwan and the Chinese Mainland involved hidden risks. it meant alleging that once ECFA was signed, the lives of farmers would become difficult. Adopting a defensive posture meant the KMT frantically arguing this won't happen and that won't happen. It mean frantically arguing that the unemployed would be given counseling, that job applicants would be given loans, and so on and so forth.

Simply put, the DPP is resorting to fear-mongering. It is alleging all manner of negative consequences once ECFA is signed. The KMT is saying "Don't be afraid." It is saying the administration will adopt preventive measures A, B, and C to forestall those negative consequences. But when the administration repeatedly stresses that it will adopt preventive measures A, B, and C, that amounts to an admission that the Democratic Progressive Party's fears are valid. In essence, the KMT is at a disadvantage. Besides, fear-mongering requires no evidence. As long as people experience fear, one has succeeded. But appeals such as "Don't be afraid" require proof. One must endlessly prove that preventive measures A, B, and C will be effective. ECFA hasn't even been signed. The impact on industry has yet to occur. Obviously it is impossible to prove that policies will prove effective in the future. The Ma Administration has been on the receiving end of punishment all the way because it adopted a defensive strategy, in which it bears the entire burden of proof.

We feel that instead of enumerating the benefits of signing ECFA, the administration should make clear the "dire consequences of not signing ECFA." The DPP was in power for eight years. East Asian economic integration increased step by step. Taiwan's trade advantage diminished bit by bit. ASEAN plus One or ASEAN plus Three are gradually taking shape. Taiwan is already "waiting to die." Its GDP is shrinking. Research institutions have known the score for a long time. If the situation fails to improve, in ten years Taiwan will become another Cuba or North Korea. The Ma Administration must break the impasse. It must make clear the consequences of not signing ECFA to the public, through either numbers or words. It must expose the DPP's phobic, Closed Door Mentality. It must make clear that not signing ECFA amounts to perpetuating the Democratic Progressive Party's phobic, Closed Door Policy.

President Ma needs one more change to his strategy. Industrialists, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs who favor ECFA must come forward. They must speak out on behalf of the policy. As everyone knows, signing ECFA will negatively impact a small number of industries. But it will benefit the vast majority of industries. That being the case, why don't the beneficiaries of the policy speak out in its favor? When those impacted by the policy raise a hue and cry, why don't these businesses respond? Take the financial industry for example. The news is filled with reports of financial heads engaging in breach of trust or money laundering. Few of them fulfill their responsibility to society. ECFA may broaden the scope of their operations and increase their profits. They have a clear moral obligation to assist industries negatively impacted by the policy. They have no excuse to sit on the sidelines. The Ma Administration should get the silent beneficiaries of the policy to work with the rest of the community. This will make its media battle much easier.

Beneficiaries of ECFA must speak out in unision. On the one hand they must do so because they are the beneficiaries. They understand the issue the best. On the other hand they must let the DPP understand that it is making an enemy of Taiwan's economy as a whole, and not just the ruling KMT. ECFA was originally perceived as merely the pet project of President Ma and his financial and economic cabinet officials. But many industries have since spoken up. ECFA is now a public welfare issue. Initially the DPP could criticize the President and denounce his ministers with impunity. But in fact its opponent is society as a whole. Therefore the ruling KMT should line up the hundreds of industries benefitting from ECFA in front of the Democratic Progressive Party, and see if the DPP has the guts to vent its spleen at the snation's industries.

The aforementioned proposition is very simple. It can be summed up in two sentences. "Strategically, the administration must go on the offensive. Propaganda-wise, industry must speak out." Instead of micromanaging his subordinates' tactics, Ma Ying-jeou should change his strategy.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.11









Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Democratic Progressive Party Has No Reason to Oppose Absentee Voting

The Democratic Progressive Party Has No Reason to Oppose Absentee Voting
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 10, 2010

The right to vote is one the most basic rights in a democracy. Absentee voting is democratic and progressive. The DPP's opposition to absentee voting is anti-democratic and anti-progressive.
The purpose of absentee voting is to increase political participation by giving citizens unable to return home the opportunity to exercise their voting rights. Transportation barriers and occupational factors deprive many members of the public the opportunity to vote. Absentee voting clears away such barriers, ensuring these citizens' their political rights. Such provisions were implemented in other democratic nations years ago. It is long overdue in the Republic of China. In theory, this ought to have unqualified bipartisan support. Who knew the the DPP would vehemently oppose it?

First, let us be clear. This measure, promoted by the Ministry of the Interior, is not about electronic voting. Nor does it apply to Taiwan businessmen living overseas or on the Chinese mainland. It applies only to Republic of China citizens living in the "Taiwan Region of the ROC." It does not apply to the vast numbers of young people studying or working abroad. It does not apply to the military, police and other special occupations. It does not apply to prison inmates. It originally included Taiwan businessmen living overseas or on mainland China. But because keeping track of overseas absentee ballots might be difficult, the Ministry of the Interior decided not to include Taiwan businessmen living overseas or on the Chinese mainland for the time being. Nevertheless the DPP still obstinately opposes absentee voting. It refuses to allow citizens the means to participate in politics. Its attitude is utterly incomprensible.

The Republic of China has undergone shocks from two ruling party changes. Yet the Blue vs. Green deadlock persists. Many people are disheartened. Recent voter turnouts are substantially lower. Allowing absentee voting would make political participation more convenient. It would help ensure everyones' right to express his political opinion. It is clearly necessary. During the Chen administration, Yu Shyi-kun and Premier Su Tseng-chang indicated their support for an absentee voting system. Who knew that as soon as the ruling party changed, the Green Camp would flip flop? Who knew that as soon as the DPP's political status changed, its political convictions would change?

One of the Democratic Progressive Party's objections for opposing absentee voting is that absentee voting may make manipulating the vote count easier. This objection has two aspects. On the one hand, the Taiwan Region of the ROC has held democratic elections for decades. It has developed a highly effective system for election monitoring. It is extremely difficult for anyone to engage in election fraud at the polling stations. The most appalling incidents of election fraud have occurred outside the polling stations. In recent years, all major incidents of election fraud were committed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. During the 2004 presidential election, we had the 3/19 Shooting Incident. The Chen regime issued an executive order forbidding members of the military to leave their barracks. As a result, many citizens were unable to return home to vote. This was an even more chilling means of election fraud than vote stealing. Members of the military prevented from voting were not merely denied the right to cast absentee ballots. They were deprived of their right to return to their voting districts in order to cast their ballots in person.

On the other hand, traditional means of election fraud are seldom seen. The new approach to election fraud is through administrative means. During the 2004 presidential election, the gap between the Chen/Lu ticket and the Lien/Soong ticket was less than 30,000 votes. The number of invalid ballots was as high as 337,000 votes. A quick check of previous presidential election results shows that in 1996 the number of invalid ballots was 117,000. In 2000 it was 122,000. In 2008 it was again only 117,000. In other words, in 2004 the number of invalid ballots was almost three times the average. How can the public not suspect election fraud?

Absentee voting is not electronic voting. It is merely a way for citizens already registered to vote, to to cast their ballots in advance, in accordance with law. One must still go to the polling station in person, with one's identity card and chop in order to cast one's ballot. The polling stations will be normal polling stations. The polling stations where military personnel cast their ballots will not be under the auspices of the military. The polling stations for police personnel will not be ad hoc polling stations specially created for the police. During questioning, DPP officials said there must be supervisory staff. Of course there will be supervisory staff! What sort of question is that?

Some basic concepts must be clarified. Making the exercise of one's voting rights more convenient has nothing whatsoever to do with political manipulation and election fraud. If politicians have personal integrity and self-restraint, there will be no 3/19 Shooting Incidents. There will be no incidents of political manipulation. If laws are strictly enforced, if voting is strictly monitored, it will be impossible to engage in election fraud. These are all matters for which the government and politicians must take responsibility. How can one invoke anti-election fraud measures as a pretext to oppose absentee voting? How can one oppose measures making it more convenient for citizens to exercise their voting rights?

Cross-Strait relations and the political climate on Taiwan are closely related. Hundreds of thousands of Taiwan businessmen and their family members living on the mainland have been denied the right to vote in elections, at all levels. This constitutes a major defect in the political system. Absentee voting is highly controversial. Its credibility will not be easy to establish. We do not think that electronic voting should be implemented precipitously. But what reason is there to oppose the implementation of absentee voting within the "Taiwan Region of the ROC" providing proper measures are taken to prevent election fraud?

Is the Democratic Progressive Party in fact anti-democratic and anti-progress?

2010.02.10 03:22 am










Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Candle in the Wind? The European Credit Crisis

Candle in the Wind? The European Credit Crisis
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 9, 2010

An economic recovery was in sight. The financial markets were on the rise. But a European credit crisis destroyed all optimism and hope. A second recession has renewed concerns about the financial crisis. We are not that pessimistic about future developments. But this incident shows that financial markets and economies around the world remain fragile, and each nation's financial stability remains important.

The Greek, Spanish, and Portuguese debt crises have revealed how precarious the situation is. All three are Eurozone Member States. This raises concerns that the entire Eurozone's economic and financial situation may be at risk. Recently, the European and the American stock markets tumbled in response. Asian stocks were also affected. During last week's "Black Friday" global stock markets tumbled.

On Monday the global financial situation gradually stabilized. On Saturday selling pressure on the Taiwan stock market eased because it was the only market open in the world. On Monday it rose slightly, up three points at closing. Asian stocks continued to fall in response to negative reports. But the decline was not as steep. Last Thursday the British, French, and German markets continued their downward spiral. After negative reports and a sell-off, the markets rose on Monday morning. The financial situation has gradually stabilized.

Globally speaking the European credit crisis is more serious than the Dubai credit crisis. No matter how prominent Dubai might be, it was after all, merely media attention. Based on the size of its economy, Dubai's impact on global financial markets is limited. The impact of Dubai's financial crisis on international markets lasted only one or two days. The European credit crisis is different. First, these three countries' economies are much larger than Dubai's. Their impact is naturally going to be greater. Secondly, these three countries are members of the Eurozone. Those most worried about the market, are not worried about individual countries such as Greece. They are worried about the negative impact on the entire Eurozone. The impact does not compare to that of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and the financial tsunami. But it is definitely greater than Dubai's, and merits our attention.

Financial markets have stabilized. But Europe's debt crisis is not over. The market is still waiting to see how the Eurozone countries deal with the aftermath. More bad news and the market will once again tumble. The financial tsunami taught the nations of the world a lesson. They will not allow the crisis to fester. The only issue is approach and timing. Just how far must the market fall before it bottoms out?

Lest we forget, the global financial tsunami struck in early August, 2007. The sub-prime mortgage crisis had already struck. For two days in a row, the European Central Bank injected a total of 200 billion USD into the market. The U.S. Federal Reserve followed up with capital injections amounting to 33 billion USD. But after the storm subsided, a chain reaction occurred. Citigroup, AIG and other financial giants, announced huge losses. By the first quarter of 2008 the storm had expanded. By the second half it had swept the world. Therefore the European credit crisis must not be taken lightly. Financial markets have stabilized over the past few days. But that does not mean the crisis has ended.

The European credit crisis shows that the global economy is recovering. Financial markets are growing and have stabilized. But they remain candles in the wind. Without special attention, their flames can easily be extinguished. This is particularly true during a financial tsunami. Governments and central banks spread money around in attempts to rescue the market and save their economies. But after they have stabilized the market, these governments are weakened. They are far less financially solvent than before. Two more tests will follow. One. The government will gradually withdraw its market supports. Normal, private sector market forces will assert themselves. Two. Even more importantly, the ability of governments to support themselves will be put to the test.

After they spread money around to save the economy, governments' financial positions deteriorate. They become heavily indebted. This is not limited to the four nations analysts have mocked as the "ou zhu si guo," or "four Euro-piggy nations." Germany remains strong. But the United States, Japan, Britain and France are in very poor condition. Their deficits are at record highs. They are under immense debt pressure. None of this is news. Fortunately these economies are large enough. They have large enough economic bases. Therefore they may be able to hold out.

The Republic of China's economy has already been integrated into the global financial system. But it is a small economy. It is unable to influence and change the global financial system. It can only passively accept and cope. The Dubai and European credit crises underscore the importance of government financial stability. When the financial tsunami struck, the nations of the world threw money at the problem. Onlookers may be reluctant to criticize the government's finances. But the tsunami has subsided. For the sake of long term economic development, the government must return to normal. It must seek financial stability. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the credit crisis will not appear on Taiwan.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.09
社論-風中之燭? 從歐洲債信危機談起










Monday, February 8, 2010

A Ruling and Opposition Party Summit Can Be More than Political Gamesmanship

A Ruling and Opposition Party Summit Can Be More than Political Gamesmanship
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 8, 2010

Former Vice President Annette is the founder of the Jade Mountain Weekly. Yesterday she interviewed President Ma Ying-jeou at the Presidential Palace. The two engaged in a number of ascerbic exchanges. Afterwards Annette Lu appeared on a TV talk show. She revealed that she had posed the very same questions to former President Chen Shui-bian.
Annette Lu referred to this dialogue as a "Ruling and Opposition Leaders National Policy Debate." Next week's issue of Jade Mountain Weekly may well be characterized as a "Virtual Debate between Ma and Chen on National Policy." Call it a dialogue. Call it a debate. The person Ma Ying-jeou most needs to dialogue with or debate is DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen. It is not Annette Lu. Even less is it Chen Shui-bian.

The Ma administration has been in office for one year and eight months. Pundits have repeatedly stressed the need for direct communications between the ruling and opposition parties. But they have never been able to bring about a meeting between the "two Yings," i.e., Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen. According to Annette Lu, Ma has already made it known that he has agreed to such a meeting. Tsai has already acknowledged receipt of Ma's invitation. The very next day however, Tsai Ing-wen announced that while the DPP did not oppose communications between the ruling and opposition parties, "The important thing is that we need to know that the KMT is sincere. Communications must be over substantive issues. If the meeting is merely for the sake of political gamesmanship, there is no really no need."

Tsai Ing-wen's remark is nothing new. In 2008, the DPP lost the presidential election. Morale hit bottom. In the 2009 legislative by-election it scored a victory. Pundits called for a meeting between the "two Yings." A national policy dialogue between ruling and opposition leaders would be beneficial to political development and social harmony. Which party has or lacks political momentum would not be an issue. But Tsai Ing-wen refused to say anything other than "If the meeting is merely for the sake of political gamesmanship, there is no really no need." Ma Ying-jeou repeatedly offered Tsai Ing-wen both verbal and written invitations, but Tsai slammed the door in his face.

Tsai Ing-wen cited "political gamesmanship" as her reason to turn down the president's invitations. She did so with little hesitation. Anyone familiar with politicians' political calculations, knows that "political gamesmanship" is one of the most basic skills of the professional politician. But Tsai Ing-wen ignored a simple fact. Ma Ying-jeou is the one politician for whom this charge simply does not stick. Ma Ying-jeou is widely known as the one person least adept at political gamesmanship. He has been in office one year and eight months. His approval rating has hit rock bottom. Some pundits are even accusing him of "incompetence," largely because he lacks political finesse and is woefully inept at political gamesmanship.

During the Lee Teng-hui era, Huang Hsin-chieh, Shih Ming-teh, Hsu Hsin-liang, and newcomer Chen Shui-bian were all President Lee Teng-hui's guests of honor. The Democratic Progressive Party had just been reborn from the "dang wai" (party outsider) movement. The circumstances were favorable to the party. But its substantive strength was still considerably less than the KMT's. None of the Democratic Progressive Party leaders at the time criticized President Lee of poltical gamesmanship. None of them turned down his invitations. When Chen Shui-bian was in office, he urged opposition leaders to communicate with him. At the time the KMT and PFP had enough legislative seats to impeach Chen. Yet neither the chairmen of the two parties, Lien Chan and James Soong, refused to dialogue with the government. On the contrary. It was Chen Shui-bian who engaged in out of the blue political gamesmanship when he met with Lien Chan and James Soong. First he met with Lien Chan. No sooner had Lien Chan left the presidential palace, than the Executive Yuan announced that it was halting work on the Number Four Nuclear Plant. This led to a series of political repercussions. Lien Chan was no longer willing to meet with Chen. Nevertheless James Soong was still willing to participate in a secret meeting with Chen Shui-bian. Again the one who resorted to political gamesmanship was Chen Shui-bian. First he met with Soong. Then he spread rumors of a "Secret Soong Chen Meeting" between Soong and Mainland official Chen Yunlin.

Lien Chan and James Soong's experiences with ruling and opposition party "communications" have less than pleasant, thanks to Chen Shui-bian and the DPP. Is Tsai Ing-wen concerned that Ma Ying-jeou will engage in the same political gamesmanship that the DPP and Chen Shui-bian engaged in with Lien Chan and James Soong? If so, Tsai Ing-wen's concerns are misplaced. If Ma Ying-jeou had a tenth of Chen Shui-bian's skill at political gamesmanship, he would not be in his current predicament.

If Tsai Ing-wen's objection is that "communications must be over substantive issues," that is another matter. After all, dialogue between political leaders is not idle chatter. Before ruling and opposition party leaders engage in dialogue, they must make careful preparations. The two parties differ on a number of policies, particularly cross-Strait policy. No dialogue can avoid these issues. Therefore the two sides must consider how to allow compromise and concessions. Only then is a dialogue possible. Only then can "substantive issues" be dealt with. Such a goal may appear difficult. But it is not that difficult. Take a random example. Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin I-hsiung was determined to amend the laws, lowering the threshold for public referendums. Would Tsai Ing-wen refuse to allow this party elder to visit the presidential palace? Take another example. Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng and SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung believe the legislature should set up a cross-Strait affairs group. Ma Ying-jeou has so far refused to comment. Would Tsai Ing-wen refuse to meet with Ma in order to get the ball rolling? Years ago the KMT proposed setting up a cross-Strait affairs group. At the time DPP presidential office and executive branch leaders were the ones who stonewalled. Could that be why Tsai Ing-wen is embarrassed to broach the issue?

The Ma administration has been in office for one year and eight months. Ma Ying-jeou is no longer a leader who commands the support of over 70% of the public. Tsai Ing-wen is no longer the Democratic Progressive Party savior who cleaned up the mess left by Chen Shui-bian. A "two Yings" meeting would not benefit either leader at the expense of the other. It would merely benefit the Republic of China. It would merely give a little consideration to its many problems. Tsai Ing-wen must have the courage to transcend the DPP's usual political calculations and mindset. Only then can she emerge from under the shadow of the party's "Princes." Only then can she transform herself into a leader worthy of leading the nation.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.08
朝野高峰會 可以不是政治操作









Saturday, February 6, 2010

Soft Power More Important to Taiwan's Security

Soft Power More Important to Taiwan's Security
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 6, 2010

The Obama administration has approved an arms sale to Taipei. Taipei has yet to discuss the sale or respond in any clear manner. Instead, strong protests from Beijing have attracted international attention. In particular, a thesis projecting a naval battle in 2015 has depicted Beijing sinking a U.S. aircraft carrier, and provoked rampant speculation. No matter where Taipei-Washington military procurements might lead, any analysis must consider the triangular relationship between Washington, Beijing, and Taipei.
Washington's arms sales to Taipei have long been viewed as a barometer of Washington's commitment to Taipei. This remains true today. President Obama approved this arms sale to Taipei. Taipei must cough up over 200 billion NTD. Yet the Ma administration felt obligated to "thank" Washington. That is why Washington must face Beijing's wrath.

The Ma administration went through the motions of thanking Washington for the arms sale. But the political atmosphere on Taiwan and on the international stage is undergoing subtle changes. From a government perspective, the sale did not include the submarines and F16C/D fighters Taipei wanted the most. Some say this proves Washington is favoring Beijing and dumping Taiwan. From a public perspective, non-governmental organizations have long opposed arms sales and objected to the government's budget allocations. Also, the price of US arms has skyrocketed. As a result, members of the public may not be falling over themselves with gratitude because "The Americans are willing to sell weapons to us." To some extent this reflects greater public confidence that cross-Strait relations are increasingly stable and peaceful.

More importantly, Mainland China is rising. The international community and the United States have formed G2. The tug of war between the two powers has become the new strategic focal point. Some say the probability of large-scale military conflict breaking out between the superpowers is nearly nil. In the event military confrontation across the Taiwan Strait escalates, some netizens scoff, it will not matter how much "tribute" Taipei gave the United States, or how many weapons it bought. Arms purchases are at best "whistling in the dark." Such remarks may be caustic. But Taipei lacks the ability to "maintain peace through strength." That much is indisputable.

As we can see, arms procurement issues are rife with paradoxes. First, Taipei offers Washington money, not to purchase weapons, but protection. Secondly, Washington is willing to protect Taipei, but only for its own interests. Thirdly, even if Taipei buys these weapons, in the event war actually breaks out, weapons by themselves will not Taipei to protect itself. Washington, Beijing, and Taipei have a triangular relationship. Is Taipei's role in this triangle purely involuntary?

Not necessarily. Taipei lacks the ability to "maintain peace through strength." Therefore we must use other means to avoid war. We must take preventive measures. We have no alternative. Taipei must use "soft power" to defend itself and maintain regional stability.

There are many forms of "soft power." The most important is an advanced form of democracy. Economic strength is of course another. Mainland China is rising. Taiwan's relative economic influence has diminished. But in areas such as the electronics industry, Taiwan remains important. Among these, talent and intellect are an important source of strength. Internationally renowed author Thomas Friedman said that Taiwan's human talent was its most important sustainable asset. Culture is another such force. When President Ma visited Central America, he passed through the United States. His host, the Mayor of Los Angeles, personally asked President Ma to help students in Los Angeles learn Chinese. This is one of Taiwan's many cultural assets.

Taipei must have the wisdom to make use of its "soft power." It can use its leverage to ensure peace between Mainland China and the United States. Taipei has used this leverage in the past. The Lee Teng-hui regime prided itself on "making the situation worse," and for being a "troublemaker." It mistakenly assumed that Taiwan independence forces could help the United States contain Mainland China's rise. But such was not the case. Mainland China's rise is a foregone conclusion. The strategic interests of the United States, Japan and other major powers have long ago changed. Some say that only if Taipei-Washington relations are stable, will cross-Strait relations be stable. In fact all three sides of the triangle formed by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei must be stable before the triangular relationship can be stable. That is why Taipei has a crucial role to play. At least it is no longer making trouble and undermining regional security. It is a small but nimble force poised between two larger forces. If it plays its role well, it will be exercising its soft power and ensuring Taiwan's security.

The arms sales controversy continues to rage. Taipei can apply pressure, not by waging war, but by encouraging Mainland China's peaceful rise. The Republic of China has experience with democracy. It has the ability to show Chinese societies the world over the nature of soft power.

2010.02.06 03:31 am



但就算這次馬政府行禮如儀感謝美國的軍售,台灣內部和國際間的氣氛還是經歷了一些微妙的變化。從政府角度而言,由於這批軍售並未包括台灣最想要的潛艦和 F16C/D型戰機,有人反而擔心,這更證明了美國繼續偏向「脫台傾中」的立場。從民間而言,由於多年來各種民間團體持續推動反軍武和關注國家預算分配的議題,且這次美方軍售價錢漲得太兇,所以一般民意未見得對於「美國人肯賣武器給我們」表現歡欣感恩。相當程度上,這也是兩岸關係日趨平穩、國人對和平的信心增強的一種反映。







Friday, February 5, 2010

Five Cities Elections: KMT Nominations Most Critical

Five Cities Elections: KMT Nominations Most Critical
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 5, 2010

For the sake of the Five City Elections, the KMT recently changed the staff of its local party headquarters. It actively began recruiting private sector talent. It is making a genuine effort. But its organizational reform efforts may not yield results in time. A short term backlash may undercut its campaign momentum. Most important of all, its nominees must be acceptable to grass-roots voters. The candidates may not be deficient in any respect. They must boast both clean images and governing ability. Only then can they create synergy during the election.

After years of thinning out, KMT party strength is considerably diminished at the grassroots. Compared to its early years, the KMT has fewer human resources, less equipment, and is smaller in scale. When party officials conducted field visits in the past, it was all pomp and circumstance. They were the equals of county executives and city mayors. Their decisions were final. County executives and city mayors could only nod. Even central and local level elected officials were at their beck and call. But the golden age for authoritarian political parties has passed. Today when party officials conduct field visits, they must bow and scrape, and often get the cold shoulder. When nominees for local elections find themselves at loggerheads, they ask central party officials to mediate, not always with success.

Times have changed. Officials from party headquarters have become a nightmare for party workers. They may have devoted a lifetime to the party. But the highest level to which they can probably rise, is local party headquarters chairman. But their positions have now become crosses to bear. In recent years, such positions have become a place to put party officials out to pasture. Outgoing legislators who want to run but who are unelectable, candidates who were pressured to withdraw, and anyone who unsuccessfully sought office, can be placed in these support positions. Such support positions are sources of friction due to post election grievances and local or clan interests. Mediating between the heads of local factions Is even more difficult.

During the January legislative election, the first thing KMT Secretary-General Ching Pu-chung did was to fine tune personnel assignments at local party headquarters. His intention was clear. Swap out unsuitable party officials. Replace them with new people who don't hold old grudges. The advantage is that without old grudges they need not consider personal feelings. The disadvantage is they have no name recognition. They couldn't appeal to peoples' feelings even if they wanted to. But at least old hatreds will not be directed at the new officials. How much front line fighting ability will the newly appointed officials actually demonstrate? We will have to wait and see. Ching Pu-chung should plan for the worst. Local party mediation is a hands-on process. It is unnecessary to trouble the party chairman.

Next, Ching Pu-chung recruited outsiders to conduct an evaluation of the party's use of human resources, and to recruit campaign volunteers for the Five Cities Elections. Judging by past elections, the Democratic Progressive Party, whether it was in the opposition or in office, made far better use of volunteers than the KMT. Young DPP volunteers wrote songs, choreographed dances, and set up websites. Old DPP volunteers engaged in word of mouth campaigning through radio and television talk shows, in the parks, and local farmers markets. These volunteers were campaign workers during the election, and party supporters after the election. They do not seek official assignments. While the KMT was in the opposition for eight years, it began studying this approach. But it never got the hang of it. To recruit older volunteers it always had to mobilize. The most spontaneous of volunteers were older women. But even they were recruited through womens' groups. Youth groups were once an important force behind KMT strength. Youth groups shone at public relations during the Kuan Chung era. But it is far more difficult for young people to rise through the ranks of the KMT than the DPP. The most successful example of a volunteer effort in recent years was the Red Shirt Army. But that was a spontaneous movement. The Chen corruption case outraged the public, creating a supportive social climate. When the Chen corruption case ended, the Red Shirt Army lost its rallying point. Its supporters each had their own political preferences. This political force is unlikely to play a key role in the future.

Ching Pu-chung hopes to use outside forces to transform the party, and to consolidate its volunteer forces. This is an important part of the KMT's effort to change itself into a "campaign machine." This is forward and creative thinking. It is also more in line with the new social and political climate. The reason it has led to criticism has to do with Ching Pu-chung's nominees. They are too controversial. Their character, values, and personal styles have led to fault-finding. Ching Pu-chung has only himself to blame for not investigating his nominees in advance. He must ask these "party outsiders" to talk less and do more, and let the results speak for themselves.

But no matter how one changes one's organizational structure, they remain internal political party matters. Strengthening party efficiency does not equate with election success. The KMT must strengthen itself as an election machine. Election victory must be its highest goal. If one cannot win elections and remain in office, then any party transformation loses its significance. Therefore in the face of any election, the party's nominations remain the key to its success. Loss of political momentum because legislators fought each other during the legislative by-elections is not a major problem. The Five Cities Elections are a far more serious matter. Winning or losing will immediately affect the 2012 Presidential Election.

The DPP is slighter weaker in the central Taiwan region. But it is stronger in the two southern cities. It has many strong candidates. In the north its "Princes" are readying for battle. By contrast, the KMT has no heavy hitters in the south. The New Taipei City Mayor may have trouble winning re-election. The party is unaccustomed to internal debate. It is unable to put forth qualified candidates. Even pollsters are having trouble taking the political temperature. The nomination process and candidates may be flexible. But for the sake of momentum it would be better to present its roster of candidates, and engage in public debate. Election controversy is nothing to fear. Only lively public debate can create momentum. In order to win the Five Cities Elections, the third and most important thing the KMT must do is encourage its leading candidates. The "Princes" of the party must have to the courage to say: I stand behind you!

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.05
社論-國民黨五都選舉 提名最關鍵







但是,不論在組織上如何調整改造,都屬政黨內部事務,強化黨的效能不表示能與勝選畫上等號,國民黨既要調整成選舉機器,勝選就是最高目標,若無法延續勝選延續政權,黨的精實改造就失去意義。因此,面對任何選舉,提名就是黨成敗的關鍵。立委補選輸贏拚氣勢,問題不大;五都選戰就嚴肅多了,輸贏立刻牽動二○ 一二總統大選。


Thursday, February 4, 2010

One China, Different Interpretations, Revisited

One China, Different Interpretations, Revisited
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 4, 2010

Cross-Strait negotiations must undergo a rational process. This will allow the two sides to arrive at clearer objectives. This is what makes so-called "process orientation" different from past "goal orientation."

From a goal oriented perspective, four outcomes are possible. 1. Taiwan independence. 2. Maintenance of the status quo. 3. A Roof Theory political affiliation, such as a confederation or the European Union model. 4. Reunification. These four goals all require a process, namely, "One China, Different Interpretations."

Take independence. The Taiwan independence movement is a parasite in need of a host. Without a One China Constitution to hide behind, the Taiwan independence movement would be a parasite without a host. The Taiwan independence movement, including Chen Shui-bian's eight year long Taiwan independence regime, were parasites inside the Republic of China. They were afraid to jettison the Republic of China, the talisman they knew was sheltering them. Furthermore, given macro level developments globally, on the Chinese Mainland, and on Taiwan, Taiwan independence cannot possibly become the common goal for Taipei and Beijing. The Taiwan independence movement can do nothing, other than reside parasitically within the Republic of China, provoking internal strife.

Now take the other three possible goal oriented outcomes. Maintaining the status quo may be process oriented. The Roof Theory and reunification may be goal oriented. But they still require some sort of process. These processes should be consistent with peace and democracy, and acceptable to the international community. They must establish a civilized example consistent with mankind's expectations. The process will be time-consuming. Without "One China, Different Interpretations," such a process would be difficult to sustain.

Maintaining the status quo means maintaining both the Republic of China and the Peoples Republic of China. It means maintaining the status quo stipulated in the One China Constitution. The existence of the status quo is actually quite straightforward. The real dispute is over Different Interpretations. The two sides have yet to establish a protocol for expressing what they mean by Different Interpretations. Therefore whether the "Republic of China" is "part of China" has yet to be settled. Therefore whether "Taiwanese" are "Chinese" has yet to be settled. If these two major political identity issues cannot be settled, even maintaining the cross-Strait status quo will be difficult. The goal oriented Roof Theory and reunification will be more difficult still.

As mentioned earlier, any goal oriented program must be peaceful and democratic. Before embarking on any goal oriented program, the public on Taiwan must establish what they mean by "China" and "Chinese." Otherwise, how can they work toward any goal oriented objective? Can the vast majority of the public on Taiwan make the leap from the "Republic of China" to the Roof Theory, or a Third Concept of China? Can they make the leap to any standardized definition of "China," as the basis of their political identity? Without a process, there can be no goals to speak of.

The problem wioth goal orientation is its over-emphasis on a "future One China." It offers no solutions to how to deal with One China today. Process orientation focuses on ongoing processes. It seeks a rational process in order to arrive at clearer goals.

In fact, in 1997, former ARATS chairman Wang Daohan spoke of "One China, In Progress." This was the first time process orientation appeared in cross-Strait dialogue. One need only point to his One China, In Progress to understand Wang's ideological position. He said, "One China does not mean the People's Republic of China. Nor does it mean the Republic of China. It means a unified China created by compatriots on both sides." This is the Roof Theory, the One China, Different Interpretations Theory. Wang said, "The so-called one China, is a yet to be reunified China, a unified China that we are both moving towards." This is the Roof Theory, the One China, Different Interpretations Theory, and process orientation. Wang even said that One China is not present tense, because it is difficult to achieve in the present. But neither is it future tense, because that would reduce One China to a remote destination whose path is riddled with obstacles. Therefore why not refer to it as One China, In Progress? This again is process orientation, One China, Different Interpretations, and the Roof Theory. Suddenly One China has become One China, In Progress.

One China, Different Interpretations is One China, In Progress. One China, In Progress is One China, Different Interpretations. We already have what we need. Why look elsewhere?

Looking back today, Wang had the reputation, the position, and the status. When he put forth his One China, In Progress, his vision was advanced, and his thinking flexible. The horizons he offered were broad, and the road he opened was wide. He was far ahead of his juniors. As we can see, those in the know understood the problems bedeviling Taipei and Beijing. But when it came to Different Interpretations, their views were as different as night and day. In recent years, some in Beijing have said: "Although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they are still part of One China." In March 2008, Hu Jintao spoke of One China, Different Interpretations on the hotline with George W. Bush. This was a variation on Wang's theory. But he apparently experienced a failure of nerve. He stopped referring to it. He retracted it. He hesitated, concerned about the implications. As a result the One China, Different Interpretations and One China, In Progress argument was not given adequate support. Process orientation also lost ground. Under the circumstances how can the two sides seek clearer goals? Ten years ago, Wang could be so open and enterprising. Ten years later, why have we become so closed and timid?

Without a rational process, we cannot clarify our goals. If Beijing will not accept the idea that the "Republic of China is part of China," how can the public on Taiwan accept "China" and consider themselves "Chinese?"

2010.02.04 03:26 am












Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stable Taipei-Washington Relations are a Prerequisite for Stable Cross-Strait Relations

Stable Taipei-Washington Relations are a Prerequisite for Stable Cross-Strait Relations
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
February 3, 2010

Washington has announced that it will sell 6.4 billion USD worth of weapons to Taipei. Taipei-Washington relations remain stable. But warning signs have appeared. This enormous arms purchase does not include conventional submarines and F-16C/Ds for preemptive defense. It falls far short of our expectations. Frankly, Washington's arms sales to Taipei are on the decline. The Ma administration must be cautious. Because without stable Taipei-Washington relations, there can be no stable cross-Strait relations.
Warming cross-Strait relations have definitely contributed to cross-Strait peace and regional stability. But the relationship remains in the stage of trade and economics and business talks. Significant political differences remain. In particular Beijing has not renounced the use of force against Taipei. The two sides have yet to formally end hostilities. Therefore stable Taipei-Washington relations remain important. This is the result of history, but it is also an objective necessity.

President Ma has reiterated that arms procurements will give Taipei an increased sense of security and self-confidence, allowing it to increase its interaction with the mainland. In other words, without substantive power, cross-Strait negotiations will overwhelmingly favor Beijing. Cross-Strait consultations under such circumstances would never yield positive results. Contrast the Republic of China government and the Hong Kong government. One of the obvious differences is that the Republic of China government has a defensive capability. This gives it a considerably stronger hand at the negotiating table.

Arms sales are a key indicator of stability in Taipei-Washington relations. This particular arms sale accounts for 69% of Taipei's annual defense budget. This may sound frightening, but it is all part of an uncompleted arms purchase from the past. It is nothing new. Washington could have approved this arms purchase immediately, but it delayed for over half a year. This is unprecedented for Taipei-Washington arms sales, and suggests a warning sign. Some people are wondering: could this be the last major arms deal between Taipei and Washington?

Such concerns cannot be completely ruled out. Barack Obama has not been in office long. His advisers are familiar with Asian-Pacific Affairs and cross-Strait affairs. They also understand the Taiwan situation. But key staffers may not share their perceptions, particularly regarding Beijing. Obama's advisers appear to have made their own calculations. This may mean new changes to the future of Taipei-Washington relations.

According to the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, congress did not "obligate" the executive branch to sell arms to Taipei. It merely authorized it to sell defensive weapons to Taipei. Strictly speaking, it is non-binding. The real reason Washington is willing to provide Taipei with defensive weapons has nothing to do with the act itself. It has to do with its political commitment to the island's freedom. The Taiwan Relations Act may include security provisions. But Taipei-Washington arms sales still require Washington's political commitment.

Taipei-Washington arms sales does not amount to a black and white political commitment. Its strength depends upon whether the strategic interests of Taipei and Washington coincide. It is also influenced by the rise of Mainland China. Past US administrations have maintained a balance between Taipei and Beijing. If the Obama administration regards the latter as more important than the former, the Ma administration must beware. This would not be a matter of whether Washington "sells out Taiwan." This would be the inevitable result of strategic developments on the international stage.

Recently the mainstream media in the US, including the New York Times, gave prominent coverage to Washington's commitment to selling weapons to Taipei. The sale was a backlash against Bejing's aggressiveness over the past year. This backlash however, should not inspire schadenfreude. If relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorate, cross-Strait relations will not benefit. No matter which side Taipei takes, it will be in the wrong. If Taipei-Washington relations undergo a chill, confidence on Taiwan will collapse. The resultant chaos will make peaceful cross-Strait relations impossible.

Beijing's antipathy towards Washington's arms sales to Taipei is understandable. Arms sales affect the political relationship between Washington, Bejing, and Taipei. The arms sale may not be the same as cross-Strait politics, but it is definitely a case of "shelving disputes." Since the issue of arms sales can not be resolved in the short term, why not shelve it? Doing everything possible to block arms sales between Washington and Taipei will not help cross-Strait reconciliation. It can only heighten a sense of crisis ion Taiwan.

From a military perspective, Beijing is worried that Taipei will "resist reunification by force" or "maintain the status quo in perpetuity." Actually such concerns are superfluous. Washington has never sold offensive weapons to Taipei. Taipei lacks both strategic depth and defensive autonomy. It cannot withstand long-term ideological turmoil and risk. Its armaments are limited to the minimum required for defense. With the emergence of non-traditional security issues, the ROC military is undergoing restructuring. When the earthquake struck Haiti, Republic of China C-130 transport planes crossed the Pacific to provide disaster relief. The armed forces are undergoing transformation. What threat do they constitute?

Beijing has reiterated that following cross-Strait reunification, the ROC could retain its military. If Beijing means that the ROC military will be nothing more than a police force to maintain law and order, then it is badly lacking in sincerity. Military forces are military forces because they have specialized equipment, specialized training, and specialized tasks. These come mainly from the United States. To ban arms sales between Washington and Taipei is tantamount to cutting off the military's umbilical cord. Our military forces would no longer be military forces. How can Beijing justify such a position? It can only leave the public on Taiwan the impression that Beijing is engaged in a war of reunification.

Washington-Taipei arms sales are the touchstone for stable Taipei-Washington relations. Cross-Strait relations have improved. The defensive needs of the ROC can be adjusted and its armed forces restructured accordingly. But Taipei-Washington relations must not be terminated because of threats. Experience has shown that without stable Taipei-Washington relations, there can be no stable cross-Strait relations. The Ma administration in particular needs to have a sense of proportion. It must not paint itself into a corner.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.02.03
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