What was left unmentioned was the fact that it was the DPP that got the ball rolling on the visa-waiver program, with former envoy to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and his staff at Taiwan’s representative office in Washington doing the groundwork in 2007. A few more years were required before Taiwan could meet all the requirements for the nomination and admittedly some of the necessary adjustments were made under the Ma administration. However, in the end, the nomination is as much a victory for the DPP as it is for the KMT — in fact, it represents a victory for all Taiwanese.AIT officials had to know what they were doing when they made the announcement in the middle of a hotly -contested election. On the other hand, perhaps they were afraid if they waited until after the election they'd be accused of helping the DPP. Or if they waited a week, of being accused of timing the announcement even more closely to the end of the election to help the KMT. Or they knew the KMT would make the announcement and wanted to pre-empt an even more partisan announcement on the KMT part. The AIT announcement did note that AIT did not favor either party.
However, by failing to take the necessary precautions against the inevitable politicization of the announcement, Washington has played into the KMT’s hands, or possibly cooperated with it.
In its press conference on Thursday, the AIT said an agreement on tightening immigration controls against felons and terrorists was the final step before the US could put Taiwan on the list. That agreement, we were told, had been signed the previous day.
Maybe the timing is just a coincidence — and coincidences do happen — but it is very convenient for the KMT that all this happened when it did. The US government could have waited until after the Jan. 14 election to make the announcement, a postponement that in no way would have hurt the KMT or helped the DPP.
One really wonders why, within 24 hours of Taipei signing the document on terrorists and felons, the AIT would rush into making the announcement on the visa-waiver program, especially as Taiwan’s adhesion to the program remains contingent on months of careful evaluation by the US Department of Homeland Security. There simply was no justification for making the announcement at such a highly charged juncture in the presidential election.
Despite the nomination being the result of hard work by both the DPP and KMT administrations, the timing of the announcement now allows the Ma camp to silence some of its detractors, who had accused it of failing to secure anything of substance from the US over the past three-and-a-half years, despite relations between the two allies allegedly being their “closest” in years.
Not anymore, and the KMT has appropriated this success as if the DPP had nothing to do with it. Fool-hardy or malicious, inadvertent or by design, the US has taken sides in next month’s elections.
What it really shows is how pathetic the Ma Administration is -- the best it can do to show its good relationship with the US is lay claim to a program initiated by the DPP.
If the best AIT can do to influence the election is announce a visa waiver program early, then the US hand in the election isn't very useful to the KMT. At the moment.
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