Monday, January 20, 2014

Tsai Ing-wen: Outside Official Channels and Inside the Black Box

Tsai Ing-wen: Outside Official Channels and Inside the Black Box
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
A Translation
January 21, 2014

Summary: The Thinking Taiwan Foundation sneaked into the Mainland under the radar. Its actions were exposed. Meanwhile, Su Tseng-chang was visiting Europe, to promote his "China Policy." Beijing referred to it as the "same old Taiwan independence." But this was no joke. It is a tragedy for Taiwan, one that could well become a disaster.

Full text below:

The "Thinking Taiwan Foundation" has arrived on the Mainland for a visit. Frank Hsieh is clinging to his "constitutional consensus." Su Tseng-chang is in Europe, ostensibly to promote his "[Mainland] China Policy."

This reveals the three way power struggle inside the DPP, among Su, Tsai, and Hsieh. One. The three are vying for the party chairmanship and the 2016 presidential nomination. Two. The three seek to be the standard bearer for DPP cross-strait policy, because this will improve their prospects for the aforementioned two positions of power. Three. The three seek to be the one who reestablishes relations with Beijing. Beijing has the power to decide which of the three will be the DPP's standard-bearer for cross-strait policy. Beiing has the power to decide which of the three will reform the DPP. Therefore Beijing has the power to influence the two elections. DPP cross-strait policy reform is linked to the party chairmanship and presidential nomination. It is also linked to the restoration of relations with Beijing. It has already precipitated a DPP power struggle and a crisis over the DPP's policy path, and may precipitate a crisis for Taiwan.

Any DPP cross-strait policy reform must receive Beijing's understanding and acceptance. If Beijing casually notes that the DPP is engaged in the "same old Taiwan independence" or "Taiwan independence under a new label," it will "game over" for the DPP. If Beijing refuses to give the DPP's cross-strait policy the nod, Washington will conclude that the DPP is still a " troublemaker." This will undermine the DPP's party chairmanship election and its presidential primaries. This is why when the "China Policy Minutes" ran into a brick wall, Su Tseng-chang quickly added that the "Taiwan independence party platform was part of history, but is now past tense." He also invoked the term "China plus one." This of course was a nod to Beijing. It was a show of peace, a show of goodwill, and a show of weakness. Tsai Ing-wen however, turned out to be a shrewd chess hand. She used her "Thinking Taiwan Foundation" as cover. Foundation head Lin Chuan led a delegation on a five day, four night tour of the Mainland. This revealed that channels of communication between Tsai and Beijing were a fait accompli. The two parties already had a hotline and had exchanged emissaries. That went without saying. Tsai Ing-wen and Beijing were already in communications. This fact could impact Frank Hsieh. Since Tsai already has a direct line to Beijing, therefore she has no need of Hsieh as a go between.

The evolving situation has two implications for cross-strait exchanges. . The first is that they involve exchanges outside official channels. The second is that they involve black box operations. First, consider what takes place outside official channels. The power struggle among Su, Tsai, and Hsieh has made it impossible for the DPP to reform its cross-strait policy inside official channels.

Tsai and Hsieh joined forces at the Huashan Conference. They downgraded the "summary report " to the status of "conference minutes." They changed the "constitutional consensus" to "aggressive consolidation of an internal Taiwan consensus." In other words, they conceded that the DPP had no consensus. One thing is forbidden. These cross-strait policies may not become official policy. Only when official channels fail, are Tsai and Hsieh permitted to become standard bearers for cross-strait policy "outside official channels." During the Huashan Conference Tsai Ing-wen downgraded the "summary report" to the status of "conference minutes." Meanwhile, Lin Chuan was packing his bags to visit Beijing, bring them gifts, and wish them well.

The DPP uses non-official channels to divide official DPP policy. It uses the result, a divided Democratic Progressive Party, to deal with Beijing. Su, Tsai, and Hsieh have each submitted their own cross-strait policies to Beijing for approval. It is akin to an auction, and may create a worrisome "buyer's market" for Beijing.

Now let us return to "black box operations." In October 2012, Frank Hsieh's "exploratory visit" to the Mainland was nominally transparent. Lin Chuan's visit to the Mainland however, was "under the radar." News of it was leaked, probably by Beijing. Otherwise, it might rightly have been characterized as a "secret mission" kept hidden from the public. Two legislators accompanied the delegation and reported to the party. Yet DPP leaders insist they "only learned of it from news reports on the Internet." In other words, the visit was a "black box operation."

Why was the visit hidden? Should it have been hidden? What was being hidden? Tsai Ing-wen's black box operations, conducted outside official channels, have seriously undermined public trust. Annette Lu has already come forward and said, "It should have been transparent. It should have been announced before hand." DPP cross-strait policy has become an election ploy that DPP presidential candidates use to cope with Beijing. Under the circumstances, how can they win the public trust?

This is an extremely dangerous situation. It could lead to the DPP's collapse. It could mire Taiwan in black box operations. Tsai Ing-wen said the trip was merely an "exchange of views on fiscal policy" without political implications. Is such a disclaimer even the least bit credible? The circumstances surrounding the trip were highly political. They proved that Tsai Ing-wen and Beijing have already established a black box operations outside of official channels. Now back up. Suppose the trip was as Tsai Ing-wen insisted, merely about "fiscal matters?" Lest we forget, Tsai Ing-wen originally demanded "globalization that circumvents [Mainland] China." She advocated "connecting with the world before connecting with [Mainland] China." Has she changed her position on this and other economic strategies? How does she view the trade in services agreement, which is currently on life support?

Su, Tsai, and Hsieh should work within official DPP channels. They should work together and call for cross-strait policy reform. They should present a united front to Beijing. In particular, they must not condone individual members engaging in "black box deals" with Beijing "outside of official channels," while depicting themselves as the DPP's cross-strait policy standard bearers.

The Thinking Taiwan Foundation sneaked into the Mainland under the radar. Its actions were exposed. Meanwhile, Su Tseng-chang was visiting Europe, to promote his "China Policy." Beijing referred to it as the "same old Taiwan independence." But this was no joke. It is a tragedy for Taiwan, one that could well become a disaster.

2014.01.21 02:34 am











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