Tuesday, October 02, 2007

DPP Determines 'Taiwan' Policy

As the DPP decides its view on Taiwan's future status, China fulminates. But as always, it is important to ignore what Chinese say and watch what they do. And what China has done is a clear signal. It has reshuffled its military leadership to bring to the fore officers with Taiwan-related military backgrounds:

At least five members of the new CMC lineup have Taiwan-affairs credentials: both Chen Bingde and Liang Guanglie in the 1990s worked successively as Commander of Nanjing Military Area Command, which covers and concentrates on the Taiwan Strait. Wu Shengli used to be the chief of staff and commander of a navy base in Fujian province, facing Taiwan across the strait. Both Li Jinai and Jing Zhiyuan are experts in missile deployment, which would be the opening salvo and a major force in any potential attack against Taiwan.

Their promotion highlights Beijing’s growing concern with the situation on the Taiwan Strait. Beijing has become increasingly unhappy with Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s proposed referendum on the island’s UN membership bid, which Beijing regards as a big step towards de facto independence. Beijing could use its Anti-Secession Law to justify using force against Taiwan if the island declares formal independence. Therefore the new military lineup sends a strong political message.
The Communist Party Congress, slated for later this month, will all be about Taiwan. It is probably dawning on wiser heads that the long-term does not favor the PRC -- the PRC's local ally, the KMT, might not win the election, and Taiwanese are increasingly pro-democracy and pro-Taiwan. Meanwhile PRC propaganda has been too successful: the population is convinced that Taiwan is necessary to secure its future happiness. Probably shouldn't have hung the government's legitimacy on Taiwan....all of this would be so much blather, if the Bush Administration wasn't breaking our military and our treasury in two losing wars, and now contemplating another loss against Iran. Of course, there are those who might perceive that the putative strike on the Republican Guard of Iran is actually a warning to China....

Speaking of legitimacy, the DPP put on a very well staged show last weekend that basically said: "we're gonna keep doing what we've always been doing:"

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national congress yesterday passed the party's "Normal Country" Resolution, maintaining the version approved by the party's Central Executive Committee on Thursday while rejecting a proposed amendment that stressed the need for the nation to change its official title to "Taiwan."

The final resolution stipulates that the nation should "accomplish rectification of the name `Taiwan' as soon as possible and write a new constitution." It also highlights the need for the nation to hold a referendum to "emphasize Taiwan's independent statehood at an appropriate time."

The congress passed the resolution with applause rather than resorting to a vote.

The congress, however, rejected a proposed amendment initiated by former chairman Yu Shyi-kun, who sought to include a clause that read: "Our nation should write a new constitution and correct its official title to `Taiwan.'"

Yu's proposal, endorsed by 37 congress representatives, only won 43 affirmative votes out of 328 representatives present at the congress.

The interesting thing here is the behavior of Yu. Is the whole thing political theatre? In some articles in the foreign media Yu was represented as a "radical." Observe first that the name change to "Taiwan" is represented as the brainchild of the "radical" Yu -- it's Yu's proposed amendment. Obviously, all pro-independence types want to change the name of the nation to Taiwan, so here is a case of delegates deploring in their public capacities what they cheer in their private. Why?

I read this as saying that the Congress rejects "Yu's" amendment, thus by implication rejecting 'radical' moves. The resulting position permits the DPP to affirm its long-term goals, while giving the appearance of rejecting 'radical' moves and seeking 'moderation.' Note that the normal country resolution was approved by acclamation, saving the trouble of arranging a vote....

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