Second, Leon Pannetta praised China for its more restrained response to the F-16 upgrade sale to Taiwan, and said that the Adminstration had notified Beijing of what was going to take place. It is hard to think of a clearer illustration that tensions are (1) caused by Beijing and (2) totally under Beijing's control and (3) a calculated policy response and not some putative visceral reaction, aimed at US support for Taiwan and US analysts and observers. I suppose, though, it is too much to hope that the media will cease writing as if tensions occur without agents causing them, or that Taiwan is the cause of tensions between Beijing and Washington.
In any case, Taiwan's feckless President, Ma Ying-jeou, did some more backpedaling on the proposal for the peace treaty with China. Ma put forth the "ten guarantees" to show that public that he is serious about protecting Taiwan. Perhaps he's signalling to Beijing that they'd better invade because convincing the public is going to be quite difficult....
Ma explained that there are 10 guarantees serving as preconditions for the cautious consideration of a peace agreement. The first is maintaining the status quo of no unification, no independence and no use of force under the framework of the ROC Constitution, while promoting cross-strait exchanges based on the “1992 consensus,” which allows both sides to recognize “one China” but differ on its precise political definition.Once again, I observe that the referendum is non-binding and will not take place on the treaty itself and is merely an assay of public opinion. Note that he does not say majority support merely strong public support (I can hear it now: "But we thought 27% was strong public support!!!??"). Note also that Ma's peace treaty is under the One China rubric, meaning that it would make Taiwan part of China. Not likely to play well with the voters. Though by setting up so many apparent roadblocks to a treaty, Ma hastens to assure voters that a peace treaty is unlikely. ROFL.
Negotiating a cross-strait peace accord would only be possible when two prerequisites are met, Ma said—a high degree of domestic consensus and mutual trust between Taipei and Beijing.
It would also have to meet the true needs of the country, have strong public support and be supervised by the Legislature, he added.
“These three principles will not change, and the government will spare no effort to be as transparent as possible prior to and after negotiations so that the public will understand what actions are being taken,” Ma said.
In addition, talks on a peace agreement would have to ensure ROC sovereignty, Taiwan’s safety and prosperity, ethnic harmony and cross-strait peace, as well as a sustainable environment and just society, the president noted.
Ma referred to the 10 guarantees as “one framework, two prerequisites, three principles and four assurances.”
“It is not an easy task to fill the bill of the 10 guarantees. Therefore, a referendum would be necessary to confirm public opinion, and the government would only take action when the issue has strong public support,” Ma said.
Unpopular and criticized even by media that support the KMT, the proposal also seemed to give Tsai a boost in the polls and in the prediction market. Not only did it remind voters that Ma thinks that Taiwan is part of China, his proposal for a referendum gave the DPP something to attack. The DPP responded by calling for an amendment to the referendum law to the public the right to oversee any changes in the sovereignty of Taiwan, enabling it to appear the enforcer of the status quo and democracy at the same time, while painting Ma as a radical seeking to overturn the current order by any means.
One observer argued that Ma was seeking to place the cross-strait relationship in the limelight since Tsai's steady chipping away at the KMT's handling of domestic economic issues was paying off. Yet the RDEC released a poll this week, from data collected in May, that says the public is not very satisfied with Ma's handling of cross-strait affairs, suggesting that the KMT may fare no better in that realm. The RDEC, by the way, is being folded into another gov't department next year. Hopefully its often interesting survey work will continue....
Ironically, Ma's call for a referendum on a peace treaty with China pretty much nullified all the arguments the KMT had made in its railing against a referendum on ECFA, as many commentators pointed out this week (Lin Cho-shui, for example), making the KMT look both clumsy and hypocritical. Gotta wonder what they were thinking in KMT land.....
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