Tsai Ing-wen's Unilateralism
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 1, 2011
Summary: Tsai Ing-wen's recent actions were unmitigated unilateralism. If not wishful thinking, then they were willful unilateralism. If the Democratic Progressive Party is content to remain an opposition party, it can of course persist in wishful thinking. But if Tsai Ing-wen Tsai becomes president, and the DPP becomes the ruling party, willful unilateralism could precipitate the worst political and economic disaster in six decades. Unilateralism. Bush can get away with it. But can Tsai Ing-wen?
Full Text below:
Tsai Ing-wen's recent actions were unmitigated unilateralism. If not wishful thinking, then they were willful unilateralism.
If the Democratic Progressive Party is content to remain an opposition party, it can of course persist in wishful thinking. But if Tsai Ing-wen Tsai becomes president, and the DPP becomes the ruling party, willful unilateralism could precipitate the worst political and economic disaster in six decades.
U.S. President George W. Bush is a textbook case of unilateralism. He fabricated a lie. He said the US discovered weapons of mass destruction. People the world over seriously questioned the invasion of Iraq. Eventually even the mainstream media in the United States doubted the legitimacy of the invasion. By then however, the US was already neck-deep in the Iraqi quagmire, unable to extricate itself; Bush did not consult with other nations. He disregarded domestic opinion. He had all the answers, and assumed an arrogant, high-handed posture. His unilateralism totally ignored other people and their viewpoints.
Tsai Ing-wen bears more than a passing resemblance to George W. Bush. But does Tsai Ing-wen have the wherewithal to be a female George W. Bush? Bush wove a fanciful tale about weapons of mass destruction. He turned nothing into something. Tsai Ing-wen, on the other hand, insists that "The 1992 Consensus does not exist." She is struggling mightily to turn something into nothing. Bush was dealing with Iraq, a nation far less powerful than the United States. Essentially the strong was bullying the weak. Bush could hurt others without being hurt himself. But Tsai Ing-wen knows perfectly well that she is dealing with the Chinese mainland, which as she herself admits in "Taiwan Next: The Platform for the Coming Decade," is "a great nation on the rise." Yet she appears to have no regard for the Chinese mainland whatsoever. She even presumes to lecture the Chinese mainland. She chides them, reminding them to think twice before acting. She implies that Beijing must bear total responsibility for any and all consequences. But when push comes to shove, who will be hurt the most? Tsai Ing-wen's arrogance exceeds even Bush's. Tsai Ing-wen's recklessness is even more terrifying than Bush's.
What is unilateralism? Unilateralism is how the government of a large and powerful nation conducts itself when implementing its foreign policy. Unilateralism is acting without regard for the interests of other nations, without regard for the opinions of other nations, without regard even for the opinions of its own citizens. Unilateralism is the adoption of an unyielding posture, merely because one has the power to get away with it. Unilateralism is the refusal to negotiate, and the willfully defiance of previously reached commercial or political agreements and understandings. Unilateralism is wanton and destructive behavior.
Bush has engaged in unilateralism. Tsai Ing-wen seems to be engaging in it as well. But Tsai Ing-wen is not George W. Bush. Taipei is not Washington. Beijing is not Baghdad. Compared to Iraq, the United States is a large and powerful nation. But even then, US unilateralism led to US humiliation. Suppose Taipei and Beijing have a showdown? Does Tsai Ing-wen really intend to adopt a condescending, unilateralist posture, in which "I count for everything, and you count for nothing?" Iraq and the United States have long been at loggerheads. During 9/11, Bush Jr. became famous, for good reason. But relations between Taipei and Beijing are more peaceful and mutually beneficial than they have been in 60 years. What does Tsai Ing-wen want? To maintain the peace? Or to start a war? Bush Jr. falsely accused Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein issued denial after denial, to no avail. Both Taipei and Bejing consider the 1992 Consensus the premise and foundation for peaceful development. Does Tsai Ing-wen really intend to engage in unilateralism? Does she really intend to insist that the 1992 consensus does not exist? Her attitude is that no one else counts. Not the Ma administration. Not Beijing. Not Washington. No one else in the world counts.
Consider Taipei/Washington relations. Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly argued that ECFA has strategically weakened and marginalized the U.S. in Southeast Asia. But the U.S. has repeatedly praised ECFA, loudly and publicly, as a crowning achievement of the Ma administration, as a cross-Strait policy victory. The United States knows this is all predicated upon the 1992 Consensus. Does Tsai Ing-wen really think otherwise? Therefore, when Tsai Ing-wen repudiates the 1992 Consensus, she is not butting heads with the Ma administration. She is not butting heads with Beijing. She is butting heads with the United States and the United States' cross-Strait policy. The U.S. government's One China Policy implies "One China, Different Interpretations." When Tsai Ing-wen flaunts her unilateralism, what is saying, but that what the United States says doesn't count?
As we all know, Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy contains fundamental contradictions. On the one hand, it repudiates the 1992 Consensus. On the other hand, it upholds ECFA. Of course, if Tsai Ing-wen is crazy enough, she can repudiate the 1992 Consensus. This is probably the only area where she can cling to her willful unilateralism. But can she repudiate ECFA, cross-Strait peace, and the exchanges that ECFA have made possible? When the time comes, Beijing could preempt Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP, by adopting the very same unilateralism practiced by Tsai and the DPP.
Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP insist that Beijing will not, cannot, and dare not, call a halt to ECFA and other cross-Strait exchanges. But Beijing has repeatedly made clear that if Taipei repudiates the 1992 Consensus, if it ceases to oppose Taiwan independence, the underpinnings for ECFA will no longer exist. In that case, how long can the edifice known as ECFA continue to stand? If Tsai Ing-wen clings to unilateralism, the edifice will collapse. The political and economic disaster that will follow, will be far worse than what occurred in the wake of the 1958 bombardment and the ROC withdrawal from the UN. The situation today is different. Any catastrophe will be both political and economic in nature. Any consequences will be both massive and irreversible.
The repercussions for the Taiwan independence movement will be even more grievous. If Tsai Ing-wen is elected, Beijing will immediately insist that she recognize the 1992 Consensus. If she refuses, she will face political and economic disaster. She will deal a lethal blow to the Taiwan independence movement. Taiwan independence will become anathema to the public on Taiwan. On the other hand, suppose Tsai Ing-wen performs an about face and recognizes the 1992 Consensus? There is a 95% chance of this. The Taiwan independence movement will also be done for. In other words, Tsai Ing-wen will either recognize the 1992 Consensus or she will not. Either way, President Tsai's administration will lose all credibility. The Taiwan independence movement will be dealt a mortal blow. Taiwan independence advocates must understand the inevitable consequences.
The 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations are ways to ensure that neither side adopts a unilateralist posture. They are ways to seek common ground. They affirm bilateralism as the basis for cross-Strait interaction. They maintain the "no [immediate] reunification, no independence, and no use of force" status quo. But if Tsai Ing-wen becomes president, and her unilateralism prevails, it will be Beijing's turn to unleash its own unilateralism.
Unilateralism. Bush can get away with it. But can Tsai Ing-wen?
2011.09.01 01:42 am