Can Taiwan Build a Platform with a Total War Strategy?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 28, 2011
Summary: Tokyo and Taipei have signed an investment agreement. This proves two things. One. the positive effects of ECFA are beginning to show, and are accelerating. Two. The Ma administration's peace strategy has stabilized cross-Strait relations. It has also increased Taipei's international breathing space. By contrast, the Chen regime's "total war strategy" only brought hardship and suffering upon the nation. This much is abundantly clear.
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Tokyo and Taipei have signed an investment agreement. This proves two things. One. the positive effects of ECFA are beginning to show, and are accelerating. Two. The Ma administration's peace strategy has stabilized cross-Strait relations. It has also increased Taipei's international breathing space. By contrast, the Chen regime's "total war strategy" only brought hardship and suffering upon the nation. This much is abundantly clear.
ECFA is merely a cross-Strait economic cooperation framework. But its impact has already exceeded the impact of cross-Strait interaction. Its impact has already exceeded the impact of economics and investment. Taipei and Tokyo have signed an investment agreement. This shows that the impact of ECFA has widened out. Its scope is no longer merely cross-Strait, but international. Its nature is no longer merely economic, but diplomatic. In short, Taiwan boasts a mature economy that enjoys a unique advantage -- it understands the Chinese mainland. ECFA shows that Taiwan has a role to play. It is no longer merely a case of "Go west, young man!" Taiwan can serve as a launching pad and middleman for those venturing forth to the Chinese mainland.
It's ironic when you think about it. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian loudly thumped the tub for "Taiwan's primacy." Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the public, they imposed a Closed Door Policy upon the nation, sealing it shut, forcing its people to miss once in a lifetime opportunities that came with globalization. Many people on Taiwan hoped to transform Taiwan into an Asia-Pacific operations center. Their dreams came to naught. Today, ECFA and the Taipei/Tokyo Investment Agreement are partial remedies to their monumental blunders.
If the Democratic Progressive Party were in office today, Taipei and Tokyo could not have signed such an agreement. The reasons are not hard to imagine. One. The Democratic Progressive Party has done its utmost to incite cross-Strait confrontation whenever possible. Under such circumstances, Taiwan could never function as a gateway to the Chinese mainland. Two. The DPP has a narcissistic strategic outlook. It constantly seeks to create conflict and launch attacks. Japan would never choose Taiwan as an auxiliary base of operations, With so many variables, the investment risks would be far too great. During Chen Shui-bian's eight long years of misrule, Taiwan acquired a reputation as "isolationist." This is the reason why.
On the one hand, the DPP challenges the effectiveness of ECFA. On the other hand, it contradicts itself, and accuses the Ma administration of "selling out Taiwan." The DPP merely exposes its ignorance and ambivalence regarding cross-Strait strategy. As we all know, ECFA is merely one indicator of economic and trade relations. Other indicators are even more significant. The agreement conveys a message of peace, and implies a state of truce. Based on this atmosphere of peace, cross-Strait exchanges can increase. Taiwan can become a launching pad for entry into the Chinese mainland. Even more importantly, other nations engaged in exchanges with Taipei once had to fret about Beijing's reaction. This problem is gradually receding. Improvements of this kind are far more important than cross-Strait economic growth alone.
Consider the most obvious example. Over the past three years, our nation has squandered fewer and fewer resources on diplomatic confrontation. Our citizens may now travel abroad and enjoy preferential visa-free treatment in 117 countries. These are concrete achievements that truly enhance "Taiwan's dignity." Washington has reportedly promised visa-free treatment as well. It may be formally implemented early next year. Citizens of the ROC hoping to visit the United States must line up in front of the AIT, to await cross-examination. This will become a thing of the past. Is this not something to be proud of? Chen Shui-bian used ersatz state visits as a pretext to transit the United States. In a fit of petulance he even embarked on a round the world "lost voyage." He used the nation's dignity as a bargaining chip, in a reckless gamble to further his own political ambition. Contrast the two individuals. Under whose administration did the people of Taiwan experience greater dignity? Is it even necessary to ask?
The DPP often says that "Taiwan must stand up and venture forth." Upon first hearing this rallying cry, one may feel a sense of tragic heroism. But on closer scrutiny, one realizes it is actually a perversion of logic. To insist that one must "stand up and venture forth," presumes that one is trapped and besieged, that one must rise up and take arms. In reality, even when times were their toughest, Taiwan businessmen ventured forth into the world with only a suitcase. Who was prevented from venturing forth? Who needed the DPP's "Pity poor me!" act? Just who is standing before the nation's door, blocking the way, preventing its citizens from venturing forth into the world? Just who is provoking conflict everywhere, then feigning victimization? Just who is defaming others, accusing them of "selling out Taiwan?" Who else, but the DPP?
Today, Taipei and Tokyo signed an investment agreement. This shows that if Taiwan can transform itself into a mature, business-friendly, international platform, it will have no trouble persuading international investors to establish operations headquarters on Taiwan, from which they can venture forth to the Chinese mainland. Such a Taiwan will be able to feel pride and self-confidence. Such a Taiwan need not put on a show of "standing up and venturing forth." Such a Taiwan need not make a ridiculous detour by "venturing forth into the world before venturing forth into [Mainland] China ."
Weaker states survive not by building impenetrable fortresses. They survive by becoming middlemen for international trade and commerce. That is their most secure defense. The peace they secure can be shared by all. Only one political party on Taiwan stands to gain a political advantage by adopting self-destructive national policies. The DPP knows which party that is, but makes a point not to tell.