TT: Does Taiwan depend on China too much economically?...and that after an election campaign when he blasted the DPP for mismanaging the economy. The stock market began tanking a day after Ma was elected, indicating what the big boys really expected from the new president....
Ma: It has been so since the former DPP government and our economic growth rate increased rapidly during that period of time.
The discussion was dominated by references to the incoming CECA pact enables PRC companies to enter the Taiwan banking market, among other things. The purpose of this is not economic growth (that is the excuse) but political integration (as I discuss a couple of posts below this one), an understanding indicated by the questions from the Taipei Times reporters...
TT: You said during the presidential campaign that all major government policies must be supported by public consensus and that referendums are one option in soliciting public opinion. Are you now ruling out referendums as an option?Note that in the first paragraph Ma's "answer" consists of two questions, while in the next paragraph he deliberately exaggerates and misinterprets the question -- none of the questioners is advocating a referendum on every major policy or because "some people are against" a government program. The exchange over the CECA and sovereignty is especially amusing, as the reporters attempt to get an answer out of the President, and he refuses to supply one, instead evading or answering with questions, a common pattern through the interview.
Ma: Do you think direct transportation links are a major issue? Many polls show that 60 percent of the public supports the initiative, but do you think it is necessary to hold a referendum?
A referendum is an option, but it is not the only option. Referendums are time-consuming and expensive. A referendum costs about NT$300 million [US$8.8 million], or NT$500 million to hold. It also takes time to promote. If the government were to hold a referendum for every major policy, it would be very hard for the government to operate. We simply cannot hold a referendum because some people are against a government initiative.
TT: Is there any risk involved in signing the CECA? Will it belittle Taiwan’s sovereignty?But as the reporters point out, President Hu of China has already sad that the CECA framework will fall under the One China policy of China. Hence Taiwan can't sign CECA without affirming that framework, as Ma knows. He also knows that these questions would not be directed at him if he were a DPP candidate, since the DPP went to great lengths to preserve the island's independent sovereignty, whereas Ma has done nothing but downgrade it since he came into office. That is why the CECA framework worries the pro-Taiwan groups -- and that is the issue Ma will not address.
Ma: What do you mean by belittle Taiwan’s sovereignty? Do you mean that Taiwan will be ruled by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] or controlled by the CCP? I want to be clear on your question.
TT: Chinese President Hu Jintao [胡錦濤] has said that they would push for the CECA with the condition that it is under the framework of “one China.”
Ma: Then what framework do you think we should accept?
TT: Then, Mr President, do you mean you will accept the “one China” framework?
Ma: The Republic of China [ROC] Constitution was enacted in 1946 and implemented in 1947. The communist China was not yet established. It was not established until 1949.
There was only one China when the ROC Constitution was enacted. So the ROC Constitution was not for “two Chinas.”
Indeed, the Taipei Times paired the Ma interview with complaints about CECA by pro-Taiwan academics. For example:
EU Study Association director Steve Wang (王思為) questioned the legitimacy of an economic treaty with China, including what title and status Taiwan would hold in such an agreement.I've been discussing how Freedom House's error in not forthrightly confronting the Ma Administration when it visited the island before has paid off for the Ma Administration, and lo and behold, Ma once again validated himself by referring to Freedom House's silence in rebutting his questioners. Despite the skepticism of some of you readers out there, criticism from outsiders has a profound affect on the Ma government (being a good Chinese nationalist Ma could care less what the locals think). Freedom House needs to hit the Administration harder.
“Can the government guarantee that Taiwan will be on an equal footing with China and not be reduced to an administrative region? The government has yet to fully explain to the public the pros and cons of a CECA,” he said, suggesting that the agreement undergo a legislative review or a referendum before ratification.
Wang criticized the administration for telling the public that signing a CECA with China would secure economic advantages and comparing the agreement to the formation of the EU.
It's sad to look back. Nearly a year ago, in March, Taiwan expert Bob Sutter wrote a piece discussing the future of Taiwan:
Teaching a graduate seminar on contemporary Taiwan, I was asked by a student, “Will you be teaching this course in the future? Isn’t Taiwan over?”Sutter then went on to outline all the advantages and possibilities of the new Ma presidency. In light of all this verdant possibility, what a colossal failure Ma has been so far....