Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tsai Ing-wen Cannot Evade Reality

Tsai Ing-wen Cannot Evade Reality
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 1, 2015

Executive Summary: The US and the Mainland are undergoing a clash of strategic interests in the South China Sea. This however will not affect overall Sino-US relations.  Tsai Ing-wen will not be able to take advantage of friction between the the United States and the Mainland. She must adopt a new definition of the cross-Strait status quo. She must respond also to concerns expressed by Lin Chong-pin.

Full Text Below:

When Tsai Ing-wen was Chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council, Lin Chong-pin was her special deputy. On the eve of Tsai Ing-wen's visit to the US, Lin told Want Daily reporters that if her former boss became president, but refused to change her cross-Strait policy, she would face an "avalanche of severed diplomatic relations." Lin Chong-pin was in quiet retirement. He was not deliberately poor-mouthing his former boss. He was merely reminding Tsai Ing-wen that maintaining the status quo may win one applause. But one cannot just talk the talk. One must also walk the walk. Otherwise the situation is likely to spiral out of control. Lin Chong-pin's warning was not alarmism. But Tsai Ing-wen is not about to listen. She is convinced that if she becomes president, external circumstances will change to accommodate her.

The DPP may not be willing to listen to Lin Chong-pin's warning. But the public on Taiwan is aware of the problem. If Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy remains fuzzy, if she persists in covertly fanning the flames of Taiwan independence, Lin Chong-pin's avalanche may not be confined to severed diplomatic relations. Washington may go so far as to state explicitly, before the election, that it rejects her argument.

Consider the diplomatic repercussions. People may take current conveniences and benefits for granted. They may have forgotten just how hard-won these conveniences and benefits were. The ROC has few diplomatic ties. It must rely on diplomatic allies to gain international community attention and to defend its rights and dignity. But with Mainland China's rise, these nations are moving closer to Beijing. ROC diplomatic allies continue to defect.

During the DPP's eight years in power, it adopted "checkbook diplomacy". It used massive bribes to retain diplomatic allies. Yet the number of diplomatic allies shrank from 29 nations to 23 nations. These allies were lured away by the Mainland. The tide was stemmed and the bleeding stopped only when President Ma Ying-jeou took office. One nation, Gambia, was lost during Ma's seven years in office. The number of allies shrank from 23 nations to 22. But Gambia unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with us. The Mainland did not lure Gambia away.

When the ROC left the United Nations, many nations severed diplomatic relations. Why could Ma Ying-jeou stop the bleeding? The difference was that the DPP adopted the path of confrontation. It used large sums of money to battle the Mainland. Eight years of checkbook diplomacy and scorched earth diplomacy later, the ROC lured away three of the Mainland's diplomatic allies. The Mainland by contrast, lured away nine of Taiwan's diplomatic allies. The result was a major loss of diplomatic ties and national wealth. The transfer of funds was opaque. The result was the Papua New Guinea diplomatic brokerage scandal. Worse, controversy erupted over our corruption of other nations' governments. We alienated Australia and other geopolitically sensitive nations. This was a miserable lose/lose scenario.

By contrast, the KMT and the CCP reached an implicit diplomatic truce. They ended checkbook diplomacy, a policy that was both fiscally exorbitant and harmful to the national image. They eventually established a stable cross-Strait diplomatic truce, stabilized diplomatic allies, reduced their financial burdens, and preserved the image of the Chinese nation. The result was a win for both sides. The strategy was successful for one reason. The Kuomintang recognized that the main obstacle to Taiwan's participation in international activities was the Mainland. It chose to improve relations with the CCP, establish trust, and soften Mainland opposition. This opened the door to Taiwan's participation in the activities of the international community. The Democratic Progressive Party, by contrast, upon seeing the boulder blocking its way. , chose to butt heads with the boulder. The boulder did not break. But its own head did.

The effectiveness of the KMT strategy extended to other areas of diplomacy. When the DPP was in power, it desperately sought to gain entry to the World Health Assembly (WHA) and the ICAO. Eight years of struggle later, both doors remained tightly shut. As soon as Ma Ying-jeou took office however, we gained immediate entry. The Taiwan-Japan investment agreement, the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement, the Taiwan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (ASTEP), and the Taiwan-New Zealand Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) all followed. When the DPP was in power, these were all considered "Mission Impossible". But as soon as the Kuomintang took office, they were all achieved in short order. The most emotionally moving was visa-free treatment for ROC citizens visiting other countries and regions. Eight years of DPP rule yielded nothing, added nothing. By contrast, once the KMT returned to power in 2008, the number of nations ROC citizens could visit increased from 54 nations to 142 nations. This included nations and regions such as the USA, Europe and others that people most hope to visit.

Cross-Strait peace makes international links possible. Clearly the KMT approach is effective. Tsai Ing-wen poo-poos Ma Ying-jeou's achievements. But when all is said and done, who achieved these foreign policy results? Tsai Ing-wen is currently running around in circles, offering absolutely nothing of substance. She brims over with hostility toward the Mainland. Never mind preserving Ma's diplomatic achievements. Can Tsai Ing-wen prevent an avalanche from inundating Ma Ying-jeou's foundation for diplomacy? Even that is in doubt.

Lin Chong-pin's warning of avalanches was confined to diplomatic ties. He did not touch upon the more worrisome economic avalanche. That is something sure to follow any deterioration in cross-Strait relations. That security avalanche is the most worrisome of all.

Tsai Ing-wen says she advocates maintaining the status quo. She says her cross-Strait policy is the same as that of the United States. But her declarations are riddled with deceit. Tsai Ing-wen visited Washington in September 2011. She gave a speech on "Challenges and Strategies for National Security over the Coming Decade" at the American Enterprise Institute. She defined the cross-Strait status quo in the following manner. She said "Taiwan is already an independent nation. The people of Taiwan are frustrated with discrimination by the international community. But it wants political separation from [Mainland] China." She said "The  ultimate goal is to ensure the rights of the people of Taiwan to make decisions regarding the future of Taiwan. Any change in the status quo must be made through democratic means. The Taiwan people must decide." Three days later the UK Financial Times expressed doubts about Tsai Ing-wen's ability to maintain stability in the Strait. This led to Tsai Ing-wen's defeat during the final mile of her election campaign.

The US and the Mainland are undergoing a clash of strategic interests in the South China Sea. This however will not affect overall Sino-US relations.  Tsai Ing-wen will not be able to take advantage of friction between the the United States and the Mainland. She must adopt a new definition of the cross-Strait status quo. She must respond also to concerns expressed by Lin Chong-pin.

20150601 中國時報












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