Denigrating Direct Links while Celebrating Three Mini-links: Tsai Ing-wen's Fundamental Contradiction
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 30, 2011
Summary: The two sides have now achieved comprehensive peace. They look forward to more win/win exchanges in the future. Even a minor setback could lead to significant losses. Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to overcome her biggest Achilles Heel during the last moments of her campaign. She is desperately attempting to prove that cross-Strait relations will remain peaceful even if she is elected. Ironically, her attempts to bind the Three Mini-links hand and foot failed. They could not prevent vitally important cross-strait exchanges.
Full Text Below:
History often surprises us, DPP leaders assumed the TaiMed corruption scandal was water under the bridge. Yet it became an albatross around their presidential candidate's neck. By contrast, when legislators from Kinmen and Matsu energetically promoted the Three Mini-links, the DPP want along reluctantly. Today however, Tsai Ing-wen is trumpeting it as one of her vanishingly few cross-Strait achievements. The DPP is now singing praises to the Three Mini-links. The DPP has consciously blanked out its former vilification of Direct Links. But the voters have not. From beginning to end, the DPP has flip-flopped on cross-Strait policy. It has been unable to unburden itself of its ideological baggage.
Twenty days before the election, Tsai Ing-wen made a special trip to Kinmen and issued a proclamation. She boasted that when she was Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, she overcame countless obstacles promoting the Three Mini-links. She lamented how she had to endure sexual innuendos such as "xiao san tong, tong xiao san." The reality is Blue Camp legislators from Kinmen and Matsu had to fight DPP legislators tooth and nail to pass the Three Mini-links. Now the DPP is actually trying to steal credit for their achievement. They cannot be happy about that.
Promoting the Three Mini-links required the "Offshore Development Regulations" as a legal basis. In March 2000, just before the DPP assumed power, legislators from Kinmen and Matsu joined forces and passed the Three Mini-links. The DPP regime may have promoted the Three Mini-links after it came to power, but only after binding it hand and foot. People from Taiwan could only invest in Mainland China with prior approval. Only veterans from Fujian could qualify for travel to and from the Mainland Region. Only in June 2008, after the Ma administration took office, did the program include both the Three Mini-links and "Three Mega-links" (i.e., Direct Links). Only then were the restrictions removed. Only then was everyone from the Taiwan Region permitted to travel to and from the Mainland Region. Only then could expanded cross-Strait exchanges take place.
The only reason the DPP was willing to promote the Three Mini-links, was that it was unwilling to promote cross-Strait Direct Flights. Under pressure from public opinion, it grudgingly consented to the Three Mini-links as an alternative. Some observers noted that the DPP was using the Three Mini-links to block Direct Links. Tsai Ing-wen now boasts that she championed the Three Mini-links. But when the DPP was in power, it imposed severe limitations on them. The DPP's underlying motive was to minimize contacts between people on the two sides, not to maximize their convenience.
This is how the DPP dealt with the Three Mini-links. Needless to say, the DPP's attitude toward Direct Links was far more hostile. During the 2008 presidential election, the DPP openly denounced cross-Strait Direct Flights, blaming them for hollowing out Taiwan's industry. According to WikiLeaks, on December 17, 2008, after the Ma administration officially inaugurated Direct Links, Tsai Ing-wen complained to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). She said "Direct Links will harm businesses and consumers on Taiwan. The huge influx of [Mainland] Chinese goods may cause many businesses on Taiwan to fail."
Now, three years after Direct Links were inaugurated, Tsai Ing-wen's predictions have been proven totally wrong. Businesses have not closed down as a result of Direct Links. Consumers have not been harmed by Mainland Chinese consumer goods. Just the opposite. Cross-strait Direct Flights have have saved people an inestimable amount of time and energy. They have reduced the cost of doing business. They have become an essential right.
Only in April of this year did Tsai Ing-wen belatedly repudiate her previously held opposition. Only then, during the DPP's presidential primary debate, did she proclaim that if the Democratic Progressive Party returned to power in 2008, it would continue to allow Direct Flights and continue to allow Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan. The DPP violently opposed Direct Flights. Yet today Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to steal credit for them. In effect, she is rewriting the history of how Direct Flights came into existence.
How does Tsai Ing-wen compare to other DPP leaders? Frankly Tsai Ing-wen is so conservative in her outlook, she reeks of Cold War era "no contact, no negotiations, no compromise" sentiment. During her recent Kinmen proclamation, she went through the motions. She replicated Chen Shui-bian's "bold remarks" in Kinmen of 2002. But compare the substance. Chen Shui-bian actually proposed cross-Strait exchanges. He invited then Beijing leader Jiang Zemin to tea. Tsai Ing-wen by contrast, reluctantly agreed to severely hobbled Three Mini-links. Chen Shui-bian was actually more open-minded than Tsai Ing-wen.
Chen Shui-bian set forth his "Five Noes" and made his "bold remarks." He actually intended to promote cross-Strait reconciliation and a new cross-Strait scenario, But he was hijacked by Taiwan independence fundamentalists. He was unable to deliver. Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policies are actually more rigid than Chen's. When she was chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, she prevented Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. When she became DPP chairman, she expelled DPP members who took part in exchanges between the KMT and the CCP. In 2009, she launched a public referendum opposing ECFA. She alleged that ECFA would force Taiwan to pay a painful economic and political price.
This is the real Tsai Ing-wen, a person sure to frighten away moderate and rational voters. Even Washington is concerned that if Tsai Ing-wen takes office, cross-Strait relations will become tense. This is why Tsai Ing-wen has been repeatedly fine-tuning her campaign message. For example, she has vowed to honor ECFA, even as she repudiates the 1992 Consensus. This is why during her trip to Kinmen the day before yesterday, she tried to pad her cross-Strait policy resume. She is desperate to prove that if she is elected, cross-Strait relations will not disintegrate.
The two sides have now achieved comprehensive peace. They look forward to more win/win exchanges in the future. Even a minor setback could lead to significant losses. Tsai Ing-wen is attempting to overcome her biggest Achilles Heel during the last moments of her campaign. She is desperately attempting to prove that cross-Strait relations will remain peaceful even if she is elected. Ironically, her attempts to bind the Three Mini-links hand and foot failed. They could not prevent vitally important cross-strait exchanges.
詆毀大三通 頌揚小三通 根本矛盾