Ms. Glaser predicted that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a trade pact Beijing and Taipei signed last summer, would take years to implement and that Mr. Ma’s efforts to dampen expectations for substantive discussions of political issues would probably cause problems with China. “Ma has not turned out to be the leader they want him to be,” she said. “Ma’s strongest beliefs [are] in the Republic of China (Taiwan) I’m sure, so I think regardless of whether Ma or a DPP candidate is elected, we’re going to have changes in cross-strait relationship.”Glaser's reading of Ma is probably correct, but note how the piece, like so many in this vein, focuses on Tsai + her party....
President of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, also said he foresaw difficulties in China-Taiwan relations ahead regardless of the trade pact and argued the best way to fend against those difficulties would be strong U.S. military support for Taiwan, which he feared was waning.
“ECFA is worthy of support and Ma and the Chinese are worth praising for their willingness to undertake this, [but it’s] a red herring in respect to the overall arc of China-Taiwan relations,” he said, calling the trade agreement “low-hanging fruit” because China and Taiwan have both long had an interest in closer economic ties.
If Mr. Ma can’t continue to improve relations with Beijing, “we are going to see tensions in the strait spike up again,” Mr. Hammond-Chambers said.
"Ms. Tsai has called for trade links with China to be developed in balance with its links to the rest of the world, but her party is formally pro-independence and she will face a tough challenge appealing to moderate independent voters while also appeasing some of the more outspoken independence advocates within the party"....but Ma is presented in isolation from his own party, which is never mentioned. This is a serious problem common in the foreign media (example and example). What are the tensions in Ma's party? What are the problems Ma faces in handling it? In many areas around Taiwan, there are fears that Chinese investors are muscling in on local action. Tsai might have to balance the fierce independencistas in her party, but Ma's KMT holds its grip on local factions by dint of patronage networks down which money is sent, and Chinese investment, real or imagined, will be stressing these. We also do not hear anything of KMT heavyweights and their relations with Beijing and China's economy, nor about organized crime and the KMT, which is nonexistent as far as the foreign media is concerned. It's as if Ma doesn't even belong to a party.
More interesting will be to watch whether Beijing does something to aid Ma in the waning days of the election, such as symbolically "withdrawing" the missiles pointed at Taiwan.
Finally, one can only agree with this thought from the writer:
Polls put the two in a dead heat, setting the stage for eight months of scandals, accusations, and (hopefully) constructive policy debate before Taiwanese voters head to the polls.Michael Fahey, the Taipei based political commentator, also turned in an excellent piece on Tsai which is not behind SCMP's paywall and which offers additional information not found in the other pieces on Tsai:
Tsai resembles Ma in many ways. Like Ma, she is a graduate of National Taiwan University's school of law. Like Ma, she holds a PhD from a prestigious foreign institution and speaks fluent English. And both served at the Mainland Affairs Council and are versed in the art of dancing with mainland China.Fahey is also more realistic about Ma's strengths and weaknesses than any of the business publications.
Tsai's nomination represents the beginning of a generational shift that is renewing the DPP. She is the first DPP leader who did not rise to prominence in the crucible of the 1979 Kaohsiung demonstrations that sparked Taiwan's democracy movement. Under her quiet but firm leadership, the party recovered from the ethically deficient leadership of former president Chen Shui-bian, who is now in jail for corruption. Tsai convinced the public to give the DPP a second chance; for that feat alone, she deserved the nomination.
Finally, for amusement purposes only, don't miss this bizarre "China Post-McClatchy-Tribune Information Services" commentary (?) on Tsai. Given that the China Post is ardently pro-KMT....
- Peter Lee with musings on the China-India situation in Arunachal Pradesh
- Pro-KMT United Daily News criticizes Ma in wake of polls showing Tsai and Ma running neck and neck
- Anti-nuke rallies in Taiwan...no one is talking about the urgent problem of our coal-fired power plants, which also must be immediately retired.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.