Sat, Apr 02, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: KMT trip a slap in the face

To put the agreement between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese authorities into perspective, just imagine that George McGovern, the Democratic challenger to US president Richard Nixon in 1972, had -- to boost his electoral chances -- flown off to Moscow and concluded a 10-point agreement with the Soviet Union. That the US would have been in uproar and McGovern accused of treason is a foregone conclusion. The real question, perhaps, is would he ever have dared return to the US, and how long would he have lived if he had?

Suffice it to say that not only did this never happen but it could not have happened since Americans, whatever their political stripe, have a rugged sense of their own national interest, even if they disagree among themselves as to how this should be pursued.

Can the same be said for Taiwan? Apparently not.

Amid all the outrage over Chiang Pin-kun's (江丙坤) trip and his illegal agreement, it is perhaps useful to put this in the context of some recent history. In the 2000 presidential election the total pan-blue vote beat the pan-green vote 60:40. By last year, the pan-blues had shed 10 percentage points to the greens. The principle reason for this was trust. Whereas Taiwanese might not have been impressed with the performance of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government during Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) first term, this failed to translate into pan-blue votes. Why? Because the pan-blues had shown that, when it came to the biggest concern of all, Taiwan's future, they simply could not be trusted.

During Chen's first term there were very frequent trips to China by KMT apparatchiks and lawmakers. Chinese academics -- many of whom double as security personnel, by the way -- were quite frank about the message these visits were supposed to convey: Namely that Beijing should ignore Chen, thereby reducing him to a lame duck, and help the KMT back into power, after which serious negotiations could be opened. When Taiwan's public got wind of these dubious dealings, the reaction was to lose trust in the KMT, and this lack of trust cost the pan-blue ticket the election in March last year.

Were the KMT capable of introspection, it would realize this and understand that its way back into the good graces of the Taiwanese electorate should be to take a principled stand on the issue of Taiwan's status and China's threats. Instead, perhaps as a result of the DPP's inept legislative election campaign last autumn, which gave the false impression that KMT ideology still had value in Taiwan's electoral market, the KMT has continued to pursue narrowly defined party interests -- recovering power at any cost -- with the abetment of Beijing, to the detriment of broadly defined national ones: national sovereignty, dignity and self-determination.

Given the recent passage of Beijing's "Anti-Secession" Law, Chiang's trip was outrageous. Coming as it did on the heels of last Saturday's massive protests, it was a slap in the face for any Taiwanese of any political color who wants to maintain those liberties that China seeks to crush. But note that this is not anything new, it is simply a continuation of post-2000 KMT practice.

The question that has to be answered now is the degree to which the KMT's behavior is criminal. Any right-thinking person knows it to be contemptible. But is it illegal?

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