Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Liu Shih-chung's Revelations and Evasions

Liu Shih-chung's Revelations and Evasions 
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
September 14, 2010

In his new book, American scholar Jeremy J. Stone has revealed that when Chen Shui-bian became president in 2000, he initially hoped to hold talks with Beijing on the basis of the 1992 Consensus and the One China Principle. As Stone put it, former Chen Shui-bian presidential aide Liu Shih-chung's new book, "History's Knots," has proven correct. Liu Shih-chung said that Stone hoped Chen Shui-bian would reach out to Mainland China, that he would become "Taiwan's Nixon," and that Chen Shui-bian did indeed entertain such a notion.

Liu's book describes the situation in 2000, when Chen Shui-bian was first elected president. Chen Shui-bian aspired to be "Taiwan's Nixon." Not only did he announce his "Four Noes Policy," he considered negotiating a "future One China" with Beijing. He echoed the concept of "under one roof" advanced by many people on both sides of the Strait. He expressed a commitment to the possibility of "political integration." But the book concludes that two years after Chen left office, Washington remains haunted by the "Chen Shui-bian nightmare." It is terrified that if the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, "another Chen Shui-bian" will appear.

Joseph Wu, former Chen administration Mainland Affairs Council Chief and Representative to the United States, wrote a preface to Liu's book. He said that when Chen Shui-bian was elected president in 2000, Liu Shih-chung became an Ah-Bian disciple and eventually a key staffer and a member of his brain trust. Therefore he was among the very few with a full understanding of Chen Shui-bian's policies and objectives. As a result of his role in the Chen administration, Joseph Wu participated in the pre-publication editing of Liu's book. That is why Liu Shih-chung's revelations and evaluations display an admirable frankness.

Liu's book describes Chen Shui-bian's policy background and evaluates his political moves, including "one country on each side," the "authoring of a new constitution," his "defensive referendum," his response to the "Anti-Secession Law," his "termination of the reunification process" and the "Referendum to join the UN." The book suggests that Chen made it impossible to initiate cross-Strait exchanges. Even worse, Washington viewed Chen Shui-bian with "hostility and mistrust," with "deep anger and resentment," and "lost all confidence in Chen Shui-bian." The result was the Democratic Progressive Party's election debacle in 2008.

Liu's book assesses Chen Shui-bian's policies outside the context of cross-Strait relations. It assesses them on the basis of their impact on Taipei/Washington relations. One might say that Liu's book is the diametric opposite of Chen Shui-bian's policies, which manipulated cross-Strait and Taipei/Washington relations entirely out of domestic election considerations. The blurb includes the following passages. "(Washington) took exception to (Chen Shui-bian's) habit of engaging only in domestic election moves, utterly ignoring their impact on cross-Strait relations." "The leader (Chen Shui-bian) ignored the need for consistency between election rhetoric and official statements. This made it difficult for Washington to trust Chen Shui-bian." The final result was that Stone's dreams of a "Taiwan's Nixon" was tranformed into a "Chen Shui-bian nightmare."

The book leaves the impression that Taiwan independence is just another election ploy incompatible with national survival and three-way coopetition between Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. This is the unintended implication of Liu's book. Liu's book states that the main reason the Chen Shui-bian regime failed was Chen Shui-bian's obstinate, hermetic, decision-making process, or his penchant for exploiting internal contradictions within the US bureaucracy. But these were merely tactical level problems. The real problem was at the strategic level. Eight agonizing years under the Chen Shui-bian regime confirmed that a Taiwan independence strategy is incompatible with a stable three-way Washington, Beijing, Taipei relationship. Chen Shui-bian knew this. As Liu's book notes, Ah-Bian clearly knew such a strategy was infeasible. He merely hoped to use Taiwan independence to divide the public for election advantage. He was utterly indifferent to the international repercussions on the three-way Washington, Beijing, Taipei relationship. He was only too happy to provoke the three parties for political gain. This is the most important revelation in Liu's book. It is also the point Liu Shih-chung has struggled hardest to conceal. The so-called "Chen Shui-bian nightmare" is really the "Taiwan independence nightmare."

According to Liu Shih-chung, when Chen Shui-bian is being good, he submits his inaugural speech to Washington for advance review. He consults personally with Washington on how to hold a referendum. But when he being bad, he responds to Washington's "punishment and retaliation" by embarking on a "Voyage to Nowhere" and "virtually becomes an enemy of the United States." When Chen Shui-bian is clear-headed, he favors "political integration." But when he goes off on a tangent, he announces "Four Demands and One No," (we demand independence, we demand the rectification of names, we demand a new constitution, we demand development, we have no left vs. right conflict, only reunification vs. independence conflict.) Does Chen bear the slightest resemblance to a president? To the leader of a nation? Or does he more closely resemble a drunk driver?

Liu Shih-chung helped Chen Shui-bian hide the truth. For example, when Chen Shui-bian announced his "Four Demands and One No," and "Referendum for UN membership," Liu Shih-chung spun it as Chen's aspirations for a political legacy after leaving office. He distorted the truth to protect Ah-Bian. The simple fact is that when Chen's corruption was exposed, he swiftly racheted up his Taiwan independence rhetoric. His goal was to lay claim to spiritual leadership of the Taiwan independence movement, thereby evading criminal prosecution once he stepped down from office. The March 19 Shooting Incident further undermined the legitimacy of the Chen regime. This led to Chen's subsequent desperation and brinksmanship. Liu's book glosses over this as well.

Liu's book aspires to be a reference source for future Democratic Progressive Party rulers. But it treats a national tragedy as if it were Chen Shui-bian's personal failure. It covers up the real reason for Chen's failure, the fact that Taiwan independence is utterly infeasible. For example, Liu's book implies that Chen Shui-bian's "Five Noes" left himself bound hand and foot. But given cross-Strait developments, even assuming the Democratic Progressive Party returned to power, what else could it do but reaffirm the "Five Noes?" What policy other than the "Five Noes" could allow the three way relationship between Washington, Beijing, and Taipei to continue?

Chen Shui-bian was mistaken. Liu's book makes this crystal clear. The Taiwan independence movement was even more mistaken. Liu's book attempts to tap dance around this fact. But as long as the Taiwan independence movement exists, as long as the Democratic Progressive Party rules, they will produce another desperado in the pattern of Chen Shui-bian.


美國學者史東(Jeremy J. Stone)在新書揭露,陳水扁在2000年就任總統之初,曾同意在「九二共識」的基礎上,以「一個中國」的原則與北京進行會談。這段敘述,在扁政府前總統府幕僚劉世忠的新著《歷史的糾結》(以下稱《劉著》)中獲得證實。劉世忠說:史東當時期許陳水扁打開中國大門,成為「台灣的尼克森」,而陳水扁確懷此一夢想。










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