Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Can Chen Chu invite Bo Xi to Kaohsiung?

Can Chen Chu invite Bo Xi to Kaohsiung?
A Translation
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 7, 2010

During the 60s, author Pai Hsien-yung wrote "The Eternal Ying Hsueh-yian." The most he could do with his delicate brush strokes in Taipei, was to replicate fading memories of Shanghai. He could never have imagined that a half century later, a Shanghai mayor would pay an official visit to Taipei.

Pai Hsien-yung, Chang Ai-ling and other surviving emigres from Shanghai to Taipei brought with them remnants of Shanghai style to Taipei. But long separated by the "black water" of the Taiwan Strait, Shanghai is merely a nostalgic dream for a small number of people in Taipei. To natives of Taipei, Shanghai is a distant mirage. Just how prosperous and just how extravagant were the ten miles of foreign concessions? They have never witnessed for themselves. But yesterday Han Zheng flew across the Taiwan Strait. He became part of Taipei's history and cultural legacy. He made exchanges between the two cities far more real.

After several decades of development, both Taipei and Shanghai have sought to position themselves in the international marketplace. Both are located at the center of East Asia. Both are competing fiercely for the role of regional hub. But a wave of democratization on Taiwan led to a countercurrent of "be patient, avoid haste" thinking, and put Taiwan out of the running for over ten years. The role of regional economic hub was relinquished to Shanghai.

Taiwan forfeited its strategic political and economic goal of becoming the Asia-Pacific operations center. It focused all its energy on "amending the constitution and rectifying names." Politics degenerated into "ethnic" struggles, or to be more precise, communal group struggles. Shanghai meanwhile, shrugged off the shackles of dogmatic socialist ideology. It experimented with reform. It opened itself up as an SAR and re-embraced the world.

After Ma Ying-jeou took office, many of his policies, major and minor, have become targets of criticism. But his plan to restore Taipei's competitiveness was unquestionably correct. During his term as Taipei mayor, he favored direct links from Taipei's Songshan Airport to Shanghai. He wanted Shanghai and Taipei to be mentioned in the same breath. Once he was elected president, he pushed through direct links, and spoke of making Tokyo, Shanghai and Taipei three points of a Golden Triangle. He hoped to reestablish Taipei's competitiveness with Shanghai.

Han Zheng's visit to Taipei moves us one step closer to just such a possibility. Today's world involves both competition and cooperation. Such "coopetition" is not always between nations. Often it is between cities. If Taipei and Shanghai can reenact the scenario from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," this might break "monolithic" cross-Strait relations into smaller and leaner "fragmentary" relations, enabling us to achieve more precisely targeted goals.

Consider the Five Cities elections at the end of the year. Five directly administered municipalities are undergoing replacement surgery for their political skeletons. If the new skeleton develops properly, these five metropolises will become five powerful engines of economic growth for the island. They will help the nation reverse its sinking fortunes and leap ahead. But this new skeleton requires all five metropolises to move in unision. Otherwise they will tear the body apart. This includes cross-Strait policy. As we have mentioned before, the DPP is solidly rooted in the Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan regions. This is the result of successful indoctrination in Taiwan independence ideology and its Closed Door Policy. The DPP should use Greater Tainan's human resources and cultural assets, along with Greater Kaohsiung's resources as a seaport to offer a new urban vision. Otherwise, southern Taiwan will be unable to rise, and Taiwan will find it hard to escape the same fate.

Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan will soon be upgraded. When Han Zheng makes his official visit to Taipei, that may be the right moment for Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan to consider "Municipal Level Cross-Strait Policy." Take ECFA. Do Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan really wish to continue haranguing their opponents for "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan?" Or do they wish to take advantage of the conditions created by ECFA to encourage investment?

Last year Chen Chu visited Shanghai for the sake of the World Games in Kaohsiung, and officially met with Han Zheng. Chen Chu was clearly seeking a political and economic solution for Kaohsiung's dilemma. But Han Zheng will end his visit in Taichung. He will meet with Jason Hu, He cannot visit Kaohsiung again and meet with Chen Chu. Internal Blue vs. Green political struggles on Taiwan are bounded by Cho Shui Creek. Han Zheng will not cross the Cho Shui Creek during his visit. The most fatal wounds have been inflicted upon Taiwan by cross-Strait policies that divide both the island and the Taiwan Strait.

Taipei has Yin Hsueh-yian or Ching Ta-ban. Tainan has the first Confucian temple on Taiwan. Merchantmen from Kaohsiung harbor have sailed as far up the Yangtze River as Chongqing. If Chen Chu would invite Chongqing Mayor Bo Xi to Kaohsiung as part of her campaign platform, perhaps it could change the cross-Straits thinking that has torn Taiwan apart at the Cho Shui Creek.

2010.04.07 03:02 am











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