Would Chen Yunlin Still Be Able to Visit with the DPP in Power?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 22, 2011
Chen Yunlin is not being allowed to visit Tainan City. Lai Ching-teh made this unfortunate declaration. But that is hardly the full extent of the problem. The problem goes far beyond this. If the DPP returns to power, will Chen Yunlin even be able to visit Taiwan? Will the SEF and ARATS still be able to conduct annual exchanges?
The Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Forum debuted today at a spa in Chungli. Tomorrow Chen Yunlin will bring a group of Mainland entrepreneurs to Taiwan. The Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Forum is the official mechanism for Vice Ministerial-level economic consultation and dialogue. Chen Yunlin's visit is a symbol of continuing cross-Strait economic coopetition. These two phenomenon represent a watershed in cross-Strait relations. They represent continued progress toward multifront, full range interaction. They represent the consolidation of cross-Strait "peaceful development."
These interactions are taking place on many fronts. Cross-Strait economic exchanges were originally driven by a random search for profits. Now governments on both sides are overseeing mutually advantageous integration. But this scenario may not have a chance to gel. Because next year's presidential election may lead to a third change in ruling parties. Cross-Strait relations will inevitably be put to the test. Today, the cross-Strait situation is one of peaceful development. It is a banquet in progress. But if the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, will that mean the party is over? This is a serious question. It is not one that a Democratic Progressive Party administration can dismiss by promising to "continue the cross-Strait policies of the previous administration."
Suppose Chen Yunlin can no longer visit Taiwan. Suppose the OECD can no longer be held. The results will be unmistakable. In the language of the common people, "Who is going to buy grandma's hard boiled eggs?" "If we can't sell our groupers to the Mainland, to whom are we going to sell them?" In the language of politics and economics, "If cross-Strait economic and trade relations undergo a sea change, does Taiwan have an alternate plan?"
This is not scare-mongering. It may well be a case of history repeating itself. In July 1999, Lee Teng-hui trotted out his "special state to state relations" thesis. ARATS President Wang Daohan was scheduled to visit Taiwan in three to four months. Instead he announced that the SEF and ARATS no longer had any basis on which they could conduct dialogue and exchanges, and canceled his plans to come to Taiwan. Soon afterwards, cross-Strait relations underwent swift deterioration. After Chen Shui-bian took office, he repudiated the 1992 Consensus. Relations between the two organizations went from bad to worse. Today, the two organizations are mending fences. This represents cross-Strait peace, win/win, and consensus. But what about next year?
If the Democratic Progressive Party regains power, will Chen Yunlin still be able to come? On the one hand, it depends upon whether a DPP regime would allow him to come. On the other hand, it depends upon whether he would want to come. First, consider whether the DPP would allow him to come. Chen Yunlin first visited Taiwan in 2009. Tsai Ing-wen led a mob and laid siege to the hotel, closing off all access. The streets ran with blood. Last year she provoked disturbances in Taichung. Recently, he was in danger of running into into Green Camp local officials. Under the circumstances, in the event the Democratic Progressive Party regains power, and Tsai Ing-wen becomes president, what could they possibly say that would induce Chen Yunlin to come?
Now let us consider whether he would want to come. Chen Yunlin said the Mainland's economic policy vis a vis Taiwan is predicated upon certain political conditions. "If one day opposition to Taiwan independence vanishes, if the 1992 Consensus evaporates, everything may be subject to reconsideration." Back then, Wang Daohan did not come. Will Chen Yunlin refuse to come next year?
Lai Ching-teh, under pressure from Taiwan independence elements, canceled Chen Yunlin's visit, One can imagine the dilemma the Democratic Progressive Party would face in the event it returned to power. The DPP cannot simply say "If we return to office we will continue the cross-Strait policy of the previous administration." It cannot simply sweep its dilemma under the rug. If the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, will Chen be able to come? Internally, it depends upon whether Deep Green hardliners take to the streets and make trouble. Externally, it depends upon whether a DPP regime would oppose Taiwan independence and uphold the 1992 Consensus. How would the DPP deal with these questions?
Should the DPP receive Chen Yunlin or not? That is the problem Lai Ching-teh faces. It is also the problem the Democratic Progressive Party would face in the event it returned to power. The DPP has harassed Chen Yunlin over the past several days. It may wait until the presidential election before it comes up with some plausible sounding rhetoric. If it returns to power and continues the previous administration's cross-Strait policy, will it continue to exchanges between the two organizations? Will it roll out the red carpet for Chen Yunlin, or will it attempt to humiliate him in the streets?