This, at any rate, might be the kind of political advice one would imagine Niccolo Machiavelli giving a Taipei prince. And this, exactly, is the suave policy line now being pursued by Taiwan's current president.Plate has long nursed a crush on President Ma, a longtime opponent of democratization on the island. The piece is nothing more than a mash-up of Establishment shibboleths, but I especially like his description of the current policy as "suave" ... let's call up Taiwan News again:
He may be special. Elected last year in a landslide over his discredited predecessor (Chen Shui-bian, the leader of the pro-independence party, who is now in jail facing corruption charges), Ma Ying-jeou realised Taiwan faced two choices. It could persist in hitting its head against the Great Wall of China by constantly hinting at independence, or avoid repeating old stupidities by searching for a new way - and avoiding continuous migraines.
Accepting historic reality, it turns out, is the old way of Mr Ma's Kuomintang. The party has always accepted the one-China principle, without getting too far into the details of how exactly it might work.
For example, ARATS turned down various requests by the SEF side, such as Taipei's plea to increase the flights for Taiwan airlines in "golden routes" such as between Taipei and Shanghai and instead graciously expanded flights between Taipei and "hot spots" like Nanchang and Hefei instead and added northward routes that passed only through PRC air control zones to emphasize the "domestic" character of cross-strait air routes.Yes, that's right, the KMT was completely owned by the CCP in the negotiations, because its self-imposed negotiating position is so weak. That's 'suave' at work! The other wonderful line there-- along with his acceptance that Taiwan should be annexed to China (why are Americans and presumed democracy supporters such ardent advocates of selling out Taiwan to China?) is that "Accepting historical reality is the old way of Ma's Kuomintang." Hilarious -- you mean when they argued that they represented and owned China, as many of the Old Guard still do? Accepting reality was the last thing the KMT did, and only because others forced it to do that by democratic change.
Plate also says that Taiwan is avoiding the "bear hug" of China, although as we know, Beijing's goal is to suffocate Taiwan in its embrace, and it is using the KMT to achieve that goal -- to place Taiwan in a position from which it cannot escape annexation. The DPP was successful in keeping both Taiwan and our cross-strait markets. That is why Beijing hated the DPP. What's going on is not avoiding the "bear hug" but embracing it. Sad. UPDATE: As many readers have pointed out, Plate can't even get Ma's opponent right: he beat Frank Hsieh, not Chen Shui-bian.
As a progressive, I've often complained of the lack of progressive attention to The Beautiful island. What luck! Over on Huffington Post the other day there was an actual piece on Taiwan by National Security Consultant Eric C. Anderson! Discussion of Taiwan on progressive media sites is as rare as Republicans at a gay marriage rally. In fact a reader flipped it to me, for I had stopped looking for such articles on progressive websites.
Anderson's piece is weightier than Plate's, but he still offers the reader no insight in the KMT-CCP reconciliation. He also doesn't understand the way that the KMT is using the economic crisis to advance its goal of annexing Taiwan to China, and that the people of Taiwan reject both the ECFA framework and the larger goal of becoming part of China. Nor does he understand the Old-Guard/Ma split, etc.
Nice to see Taiwan on a progressive website, though. Progress of a sort.... perhaps we can have an actual progressive call for greater support for Taiwan's democracy. Don't hold your breath, though, folks.
My man Erik Lundh posted a piece from the WSJ by Daniel Rosen to his cross-strait economics blog. This is very much Establishment economics analysis, containing an error:
Until now, Taiwan has blocked inward investment from China -- despite WTO obligations -- ostensibly out of national security concerns.That is incorrect -- regulations permitting Chinese investment in Taiwan were drawn up under the DPP years ago, but no investment occurred, partly because China did not want to reward DPP openness with Chinese investment. Rosen also observes:
Critics within Taiwan will inevitably argue that normalizing economic relations with China brings Taiwan additional national security risk. In the U.S. experience and world-wide, inward investment has proven not to undermine national security but rather enhance it. If Chinese firms build productive capacity in Taiwan, then that is so much more capacity within Taipei's direct reach in the unlikely event of future tensions.An interesting argument, although it does not seem to be supported by history. The pattern and goals of Chinese investment in Taiwan need to be clarified before we can say much about the future. Rosen doesn't consider the possibility that the KMT is not negotiating in good faith on behalf of the island. I refer the reader to the Taiwan News piece referenced above.
Bill Sharp out of Hawaii had a piece in the Honolulu papers this week on the disarray in Taiwanese politics:
I don't see the DPP regaining control of the legislature, ever. It is not belief in Taidu that keeps the DPP out of power, but its lack of a strong party structure at the grass roots level, failure to set up youth and volunteer training organizations, lack of cash, and so forth. The DPP at present is little more than a party of lawyers struggling to grab the Presidency.
Given the disarray, one wonders if Taiwan will remain a viable two-party system. The KMT controls the presidency, the legislature and most local government positions. A despondent key DPP insider said that if the party retains the six local government positions it now holds in the upcoming local elections, it will be doing well.
The party is plagued by a lack of finances and the lingering negative image of former president and DPP chairman Chen Shui-bian, who is in jail facing corruption charges. Moreover, the party lacks a center of gravity because of the strong factionalism between the more pragmatic wing of the party versus the strongly doctrinaire pro-Taiwan independence wing of the party.
"Taidu" (Taiwan independence) has no chance of succeeding in the near future, and as long as those advocating that position within the party persist, the DPP will remain out of power. The DPP needs to focus more on economic issues and transform itself into a British-style labor party, which represents the interests of those economically less fortunate.
Head and shoulders above these pieces is a longer review by Michael Goldfarb in the Weekly Standard. You only need one small paragraph to understand how much better Goldfarb's understanding of affairs is. Referring to the WHA observership, he notes:
President Ma and other KMT officials insist that Beijing will act out of a new, enlightened sense of self-interest; that the Communists now understand increased trade and a softer touch are the only way to win hearts and minds on the island and prevent any further drift toward independence. But many officials concede that a fear the DPP will return to power is the driving force behind Beijing's sudden flexibility.And the concluding paragraph...
Fifty years ago the Chinese could only fire artillery shells and make threats in response to any provocation by -Taiwan. In a few more years mainland China will be able to stop tourists, cut air links, and seize Taiwanese investments if Taiwan defies the Communist party. China will be able to devastate the Taiwanese economy. And if that fails to bring Taipei in line, Beijing can credibly threaten to take the island by force. But as long as the KMT is in charge, none of that will be necessary. After all, the KMT and the Communists share the same goal: One China free of the DPP.Yup.
UPDATE: Another blog lists the numerous problems with even a relatively good piece like Goldfarb's.
- The Peaceful Rise: recently India, the Philippines, and today, a piece on China's theft of Su-33 technology from Russia in Defense News hot on the heels of stealing Su-27 tech. That's China, your good cooperation partner.
- The pro-Green forum Social Force says they have been the target of Denial-of-service attacks.
- A blog opened to promote Yushan as a world wonder. Because those blog-thingies have magic power to promote stuff, merely opening one will change the world and be big news.
- Big advance: UN to give Taiwan media press cards to cover WHA meeting. Before the UN barred Taiwanese media.
- The energy footprint of the Net grows by 10% annually. How long can we sustain it, asks Andrew Leonard? For the sake of the children, can we retire the phrase "a perfect storm" from the English language?
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