Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China is all stick and no carrot

China's hope to unify Taiwan is in fact similar to the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) hope to unify with the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party. Both China and the KMT are parent entities trying to draw separated and independent bodies back into itself. But these individual entities are already conscious of their independence and therefore resist unification.

Nevertheless, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT seem to have different strategies regarding unification. In the past, the KMT applied public pressure to try to force the PFP and the New Party to come back. But its attempts repeatedly failed. Now, the KMT has adopted a new strategy -- luring them over by gain -- which has produced better results. In fact, the New Party announced on Wednesday that the party's eight candidates will run in the year-end legislative elections under the name of the KMT, to allow for more legislator-at-large seats. The New Party's action may further worsen the struggles between the pan-blue camp's own candidates. But the party is integrating into the body of the KMT, and unification will inevitably result.

Although KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) have discussed merging prior to the year-end legislative elections, PFP legislators worry that such a scenario would be disadvantageous to PFP candidates. What's more, people inside the PFP believe the party will enjoy a great surge of support in the elections, which would give them a better position from which to negotiate a merger following the elections. This is also the reason why Soong has declared that the two parties won't merge prior to the elections, and that merger discussions will only be held in February next year. The KMT, however, has correctly identified the PFP's difficult economic situation, and has declared that the PFP can use a KMT-owned building on Bade Road. Acceptance of this gift by the PFP will make a KMT-PFP merger so much harder to avoid, and it is only the terms and conditions that will change.

China is aiming over 600 missiles at Taiwan and threatens the nation through constant military exercises. Chinese officialdom and media also constantly issue verbal threats against Taiwan, humiliate the nation on the international stage and take away the country's international living space. These strategies only force Taiwan to strengthen its defensive arms arsenal, improve its military exercises, stimulate a Taiwan consciousness to unite the people of Taiwan and nourish a mood of hatred to resist China. In short, these strategies only force Taiwan further away from China. The CCP should learn from its "older brother," the KMT. When the KMT tried to coerce the PFP and New Party back into the fold, a merger seemed unlikely. But now that it is tempting them with legislator-at-large seats and office buildings, prospects look much brighter. If China insists on continuing its campaign of verbal and military threats, this will only be counterproductive. If they offered some incentives, things might be different.

It is ironic that neither the KMT nor the CCP can offer anything to win the support of the people of Taiwan. Even though there are many who don't believe that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has performed particularly well, they have even less confidence in the KMT. The KMT has neither the goals nor the ideals with which to attract the support of the Taiwanese or to convince the PFP or New Party to merge with it. All it offers are party assets and political advantage. If China wished to tempt Taiwan toward unification, all it can give are economic advantages and international political space. But in exchange, Taiwan would have to give up the guarantee of democracy, freedom and human rights. We can see what happened to Hong Kong under "one country, two systems." If Hong Kongers find it intolerable, Taiwanese would find it more so. Basically, China has nothing to offer Taiwan.

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