Mon, Mar 27, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Ma shows true color in US speech

By Li Thian-hok 李天福

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is in the midst of an 11-day tour of the US. The main objectives of the trip are to enhance his visibility, to meet US policy elite to allay any fears that he may be anti-American and to seek approval for his bid to become Taiwan's president in 2008.

Last Wednesday, Ma gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Here are some highlights:

Ma said that right after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) first won election to the presidency in 2000, his approval rating was high (80 percent) because he paid his respects to the KMT's bigwigs, appointed General Tang Fei (唐飛)as head of the Executive Yuan and made the "five noes" pledge in his inauguration address.

Later, Chen advocated "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait," and provoked and angered China, causing his popularity to plunge and resulting in successive defeats in the polls for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Ma said.

Ma said Taiwan's future prosperity depends on closer economic integration with China. Otherwise, it will be excluded from the ASEAN plus two or plus three free-trade agreement and its economy will be marginalized. If the KMT were to win the 2008 presidential election, Ma plans to carry out five policy goals: resume negotiations with Beijing under the so-called "1992 consensus," sign a peace accord with China, work to establish a common market across the Taiwan Strait, increase Taiwan's international participation and boost cultural and educational exchanges. Ma ended his speech by labeling Chen a troublemaker and himself a peacemaker.

Ma didn't spell out the quid pro quo which will prompt China to renounce its use of force against Taiwan, but it has to be acceptance of the "one China" principle. The peace accord idea is not new. US academics and former officials have advanced the same idea under the name of an "interim agreement." The key ingredient is that Taiwan permanently forgoes any possibility of independence.

Of course, once Taiwan surrenders its sovereignty there is no need for China to resort to force, so Ma's peace accord is a poor bargain for the Taiwanese, who will forfeit their hard-won freedom for an empty promise of autonomy. Hong Kong was promised 50 years of democracy, but Beijing quickly reneged on that commitment.

Ma's command of English and his oratorical skill were less than impressive. It was obvious, however, that he had expended much effort in anticipating questions and preparing answers, even though many of his responses were facetious.

During the question and answer session that followed Ma's speech, this writer managed to ask the following question: "You have said Taiwan should focus on maintaining the status quo. This is disingenuous because the KMT's actions are changing the status quo in favor of China. For example, the pan-blues have blocked the arms procurement bill in the legislature's Procedure Committee, weakening Taiwan's security even though China continues to develop its military capacity. Second, Taiwan's economy is being hollowed out due to the mass exodus of capital, technology and manpower to China. Yet the KMT advocates greater economic integration with China and early implementation of direct links. Lastly, to maintain the status quo, what is needed is unity, yet the pan-blues are actively undermining the Chen administration's ability to govern effectively, for example, by persisting in the `March 19 truth investigation' of the assassination attempt on the president and vice president and introducing a peace promotion bill, designed to usurp the executive power of the DPP government and create an environment conducive to Taiwan's annexation by China."

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