Where Is the DPP Cross-Strait Express Headed?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 10, 2014
Summary: We welcome anything that is conducive to cross-Strait relations, to "peace, stability and development," We welcome anything that will facilitate the beginning of a new era. We are however worried about the KMT's ability to respond. Lai Ching-teh visited Shanghai. The KMT mocked him and criticized him for changing his political stance. But suppose Lai Ching-teh has in fact changed his political stance? Isn't that something the KMT should applaud? A new era in cross-Strait relations has begun. People will also be listening to what the KMT says and watching what the KMT does. Only that can prevent the KMT from falling behind the times.
Full Text Below:
The relationship between the red, blue, and green parties on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is changing. The changes may well be critical in nature and herald a breakthrough. The Mainland is more confident than ever about cross-Strait relations. Tsai Ing-wen is now chairperson. The DPP now has a new view of cross-Strait relations and a new manner of response.
First of all, Tsai Ing-wen has expressed a new attitude toward a "Tsai Zhang Meeting." State Council for Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun may visit Taiwan. When Tsai Ing-wen met with DPP China Affairs Committee members, she said "As long as there are no preconditions, I can meet with Zhang Zhijun at DPP Party Headquarters." According to media reports, Tsai Ing-wen specially convened members of the China Affairs Committee, right after the DPP Central Standing Committee meeting. Former Premier Frank Hsieh, Yu Shyi-kun, Ker Chien-ming, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, and Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-teh attended. They discussed the future of the committee. Chen Chu, Lai Ching-teh, and Ker Chien-ming used phrases such as "If Zhang Zhijun visits Taiwan" and "If Zhang Zhijun invites me," and discussed how the DPP should to respond. Ker Chien-ming made it clear that, "We must change our attitude of blanket opposition." It was precisely during this exchange that Tsai Ing-wen offered her above mentioned response.
When ARATS chairman Chen Yunlin visited Taiwan, the DPP behaved outrageously. They beseiged him for the entire duration of his visit. By contrast, the DPP is cautiously welcoming Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun's visit, as a gesture of goodwill. The DPP has indeed made a major about-face on cross-Strait issues. The DPP's Mainland policy express train has turned around. But we still cannot see where it is heading or how fast it is traveling. But at least it is departing from the right place.
Soon after Tsai Ing-wen made her remarks, Lai Ching-teh visited Shanghai as part of a city to city cultural exchange. In Shanghai, Lai Ching-teh refused to comment on a number of sensitive topics. But his overal demeanor was frank, positive, and friendly. When questioned about Lai Ching-teh's visit to Shanghai, Tsai Ing-wen stressed that "The two sides should enhance mutual understanding through frank exchanges and dialogue. Both sides should seek common ground based on past history. They should seek peace, stability, and development." Her words suggest that the DPP is responding positively and aggressively to mainstream hopes for "cross-Strait peaceful development." The DPP has repeatedly stressed the importance of stable cross-Strait relations. Tsai Ing-wen's remarks, Lai Ching-teh's visit to Shanghai, and the DPP's response were not improvized. Nor were they verbal gaffes. Rather they respresent the DPP leadership's new cross-Strait policy. They were preplanned. They represented the more pragmatic policy orientation of many younger generation DPP leaders.
Political parties and politicians are often sized up by "listening to what they say and watching what they do." Tsai Ing-wen, Lai Ching-teh, and the DPP are doing something new. Naturally this requires "listening to what they say and watching what they do." In fact, so-called "listening to what they say and watching what they do" is not limited to the DPP. On a deeper level it requires listening to what the DPP says and watching what the DPP does about cross-Strait policy. The question must be examined on at least two levels.
Take what the DPP says. The DPP has started using "the Chinese side," and "the other side," to refer to Mainland China. This represents progress and goodwill. Tsai and the DPP talk about "cross-Strait peace, stability and development." That too is a sign of goodwill. It is even a sign of policy change. To date however, what the DPP says has been confined to the level of appearances. The DPP has made a few friendly gestures. They were certainly worth encouraging. But more importantly they involve substance and content. That is precisely how the DPP must change its cross-Strait rhetoric. That is precisely what requires close observation.
Now take what the DPP does. Tsai Ing-wen said she welcomes a "Tsai Zhang Meeting." Lai Ching-teh took part in city to city exchanges. These are important changes in behavior. But these to are confined to the level of exchanges. Further observation of what the DPP does is required. How will the DPP deal with critically important bills relating to cross-Strait relations? Will the DPP cling to its scorched earth policy? To delaying tactics? Is it willing to engage in earnest democratic oversight? Is it willing to play an active role as the loyal opposition? Is it willing to review bills in order to make them better? Many on Taiwan are watching closely. So are many on the Mainland.
So far, the Mainland has cautiously welcomed the DPP's changes. The Hong Kong based China Review noted that Tsai Ing-wen's "intentions toward the Mainland are sincere." It noted that she "has demonstrated forcefulness in cross-Strait relations." It said that Tsai Ing-wen is "rational, and aware that cross-Strait relations are the most important factor in whether the Democratic Progressive Party can return to power." It said the DPP "has already behaved in a friendly manner," and that the "Mainland must appreciate this and respond in kind. "
If the DPP is increasingly sincere in both its words and deeds, the DPP/CCP freeze can be thawed, bit by bit. DPP/CCP exchanges can be promoted, step by step, A new era in cross-Strait relations can begin. For the red, blue, and green parties, this constitutes a new era, rich with challenges and opportunities.
We welcome anything that is conducive to cross-Strait relations, to "peace, stability and development," We welcome anything that will facilitate the beginning of a new era. We are however worried about the KMT's ability to respond. Lai Ching-teh visited Shanghai. The KMT mocked him and criticized him for changing his political stance. But suppose Lai Ching-teh has in fact changed his political stance? Isn't that something the KMT should applaud? A new era in cross-Strait relations has begun. People will also be listening to what the KMT says and watching what the KMT does. Only that can prevent the KMT from falling behind the times.