Sunday, February 19, 2006

Financial Times on Chen Again

The Financial Times had another article today by K. Hille, whose articles are generally anti-Chen. This one, discussing the DPP's proposed Constitutional changes, is somewhat less nasty than her usual fare.

The DPP's plans are in contrast to remarks made by Mr Chen last year that Taiwan's planned constitutional reforms would not touch upon sensitive sovereignty-related issues.

They also appear to be a further violation of the “Five No's”, a pledge not to move towards formal independence made by Mr Chen six years ago and since seen as his key commitment not to upset cross-Strait relations.

Mr Chen started to dismantle this commitment last month when he proposed Taiwan should abolish the National Unification Council, a de facto defunct body with the task of implementing a long-term programme for unification with China.

The DPP said on Friday its potentially more radical constitutional draft was no more than an expression of its political ideals. “The party's draft has to display stronger idealism,” Mr Tsai said. “We are open to negotiations with the government for the final draft.”

However, party officials said the separation between a more idealistic party and more pragmatic government was artificial. “The whole process is being steered by the president,” said one DPP politician. “The Five No's are dead.”

The constitutional debate helps Mr Chen create momentum for the perception that he is the true defender of Taiwan interests against Chinese threats.

But for constitutional changes to be adopted, proposals need to first gain a three-fourths majority in the legislature and then be adopted by more than 50 per cent of eligible voters in a referendum. Both hurdles have proved too high even for far less controversial proposals in the past.

One of the themes of the international media is that President Chen is a horrible troublemaker, a madman. Here this theme, though mentioned only indirectly, colors the presentation in the text. Ms. Hille does not mention that the Five No's are contingent upon China's renunciation of the use of force against Taiwan. Since China remains committed to unilateral changes in the status quo through violence, Chen has not violated any pledges. It is may or may not be politically wise to upset China, but Chen is not a liar for doing so. It would also be nice if, at some point, Ms. Hille recognizes in print the fact that China threatens to murder and maim Taiwanese in order to annex The Beautiful Island. The real madmen sit in Beijing and point missiles at Taiwan.

Also, the process of Constitutional change is new, and there haven't been any proposals submitted through it yet, as far as I can remember. It is doubtful that any change proposed by Chen would be able to pass the current process, and surely both China and Chen know this. The reader should thus contemplate Chen's real reason for initiating a process that can have no concrete effect -- as Hille notes: "The constitutional debate helps Mr Chen create momentum for the perception that he is the true defender of Taiwan interests against Chinese threats." This is also the truth, since at the moment the pan-Blue KMT and PFP do not appear to care about Taiwan's interests -- though Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT has been floating some interesting proposals lately -- and the TSU is too small to carry out that task.

Also, there's lots of stuff going on in Taiwan, but Hille's articles too often focus entirely on Chen Shui-bian and his horrible machinations on behalf of Taiwan. Perhaps Ms. Hille might enlarge the area of her reporting to include more aspects of the rich and dynamic society that goes about its business every day in Taiwan.

1 comment:

Tim Maddog said...

Could Hille be smoking Ma Ying-jeou's "cigar"?

I mean, what other excuse could there be for her to forget the vital condition of the "Five No's." Let's make her write it on the board 784 times:
- - -
Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not...
- - -