Friday, March 23, 2012

Oceania not at War with Eastasia: One Country, Two Areas

Champagne corks were flying all over the Taiwan media today as former KMT Chair Wu Po-hsiung hacked up a new formula for cross-strait relations: "One country, two areas" in a meeting with the ruler of China and mass murderer Hu Jin-tao. Thank all gods! Now we can relegate beef to the back pages since we can report on something that looks and tastes like actual news but has only half the calories.

As my friend Andrew K wittily parsed this, Wu meant Taiwan north and south of the Choshui River.

The BBC reported:
Mr Hu told Mr Wu that Taiwan and mainland China should push for a peaceful development of cross-strait relations "hand in hand like a family", reports the People's Daily Overseas Edition.

The Global Times says Mr Wu has proposed a new concept of "one country, two areas" as the "legal base" for handling relations between the two sides.
Wu also informed Hu that relations between the two allied, centrally-organized, Party-State political organizations  the KMT and CCP the two governments were "special" but were not "special state-to-state" (FocusTaiwan). Premier Sean Chen then officiously stepped in to remind everyone that this was perfectly in accordance with the ROC Constitution which specifies that China is one nation and the ROC is its ruler. Mutual Non-Denial? Down the memory hole, where it nestles comfortably beside APROC, 6-3-3, and FTAs.

Wu also said that exchanges with China and with other parties and interest groups will expand mutual understanding, benefiting "the softening of internal biases in Taiwan and aids in establishing a consensus." In other words, China is the club that will beat the DPP and those pesky pro-democracy types back into their place.

Yes, now that the election is over, the Ma Administration is suddenly not Taiwanese anymore. On the net there was much wearing of sackcloth and ashes at this, as if anything else were to be expected of this government.

It is interesting to contrast the KMT and DPP on this issue -- in 2009 Chen Chu went off to China and referred to President Ma as "the President of our central government." Apparently the earth remained in its orbit and China still signed ECFA.

Really, when Wu talks about "One country, two areas" he means that outside of Taiwan the KMT talks about Taiwan in a completely different way than it does when Party officials are speaking to home audiences. It doesn't really matter what Wu actually says since whatever happens in public is as scripted as a pro wrestling bout, and of even less import. The key is that he signals the continued willingness of the KMT to ally itself with the CCP and garner the benefits of cross-strait agreements for the KMT, big business, cross-strait organized crime, and other interested parties.

More pertinent in its way was the less touted report from the Taiwanese General Contractor Association that shows what "one country, two areas" actually means in practice for Beijing: relentless suppression of Taiwan. For Beijing's bid to join an international general contractor association, Beijing sent a memo....
In the memo, China listed as a prerequisite before it applied for membership that, in any activity and meetings of the international association, there be no presence of the “so-called ROC [Republic of China] national flag, national emblem or national anthem.”

It also said that Taiwanese officials could not attend in any capacity.

The Chinese association also demanded that the international group remove the Taiwanese association from all lists of nations in all meetings, events, documents, Web sites and paperwork to avoid creating the impression that there are “two Chinas,” or one Taiwan and one China.
Even more importantly, the article also recognizes one of the important conflicts that will shape the KMT's internal politics in the coming years:
Though China has yet to apply for membership, after the Ma administration announced that public infrastructure construction would be opened to Chinese investment, Chinese influence in Taiwan’s economy and politics would increase, the sources said.

At that time, the international association would inevitably be forced to agree to China’s strict demands, the sources said.

The sources said that the public sector is worried that further opening up of infrastructure construction to Chinese investors would enable China to control local factions through construction benefits and the contracting of subcontractors, and that such control would be able to influence elections.
There's no reason to think that CCP won't be as savvy as the KMT in playing off local factions against each for benefits from China, and there's no reason to think that the local factions won't be happy to play off Beijing against the KMT to extort greater benefits. Local contractors may also revolt against the KMT leadership when firms from China make off with plum projects. Managing its local patronage networks, historically a challenge muted by flows of central government money for public construction patronage in local areas, will become even more complex once giant firms from China muscle into the Taiwan public works market.

And wait til they want to import Chinese workers to do it....
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Tommy said...

Wu's idea is stupid in another way. It sounds too much like "One Country, Two Systems" a concept to which many Taiwanese are allergic. I don't understand why he had to present the idea in this fashion. It was not a smooth PR gesture.

Anonymous said...

No matter what kind of stupid crap they say, they somehow always get elected.

Anonymous said...

I think todays Lianhebao article mentioned that Ma used that phrase in 2008, but honestly I can't get worked up about it anymore. The Taiwanese get what they voted for, just sign the damn SAR agreement already.

Danke Schoen said...

Good thing we voted to keep the staus quo...

Anonymous said...

I can't get worked up about it anymore.

I think that's what they want you to feel. When the indifference and resignation spreads among locals and foreigners alike, the architects of unification can more easily do their work.