President Chen Shui-bian's (
Chen faces a grim choice. He is under no constitutional obligation to resign, and in the current politicized and polarized environment, there is a case to be made for abiding by constitutional process.
However, if he battles on with a prosecution hanging over his head, Chen will place incredible pressure on his party's legislators, many of whom will need to appeal to moderate blue-camp voters if they are to have a hope of retaining a seat in a downsized legislature. There is a risk that some of these will vote with Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators -- together with the opposition and independents -- to have Chen recalled as early as next week. This is a scenario that Chen would not want to see if he has his party's interests at heart.
The days to come will therefore see intense lobbying by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials as they look for a way for the party to extricate itself from this controversy and leave itself some hope of a good result in the elections for Taipei and Kaohsiung mayors this year, the legislature late next year and the presidency in 2008.
If one good thing has come out of this miserable affair, it is that the investigation has proceeded without substantial interference by the Presidential Office or other executive organs. For those who place stock in the separation of powers, there is satisfaction to be had at witnessing a president, his wife and his staff come undone at the hands of a wide-ranging probe by officers whose agencies he ultimately has some power over.
But there is no satisfaction to be had at witnessing scenes of joy and celebration by pan-blue camp legislators at the announcement of the prosecutions. Their partisan joy is not Taiwan's joy. It is the opportunism of people who have spent years blocking good government and egging on irresponsible elements in their ranks.
These are people that demonized the judiciary when it found -- after an exhaustive process of appeals -- that the result of the 2004 presidential election was fair, and that conspiracy theories peddled by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (
How their tune changes when it suits them.
Grassroots DPP supporters will be particularly appalled by the latest developments. For many of them, Chen represented everything that was good about Taiwan and the Taiwanese. The prosecution of Wu even more helps to despoil the lore that helped bring Chen to power -- fighting victimization by the KMT, transforming Taipei City, Wu's apparent steadfastness in her relationship with her husband, and so on. That all of this should come crashing down because of allegedly illegal spending on jewelry and other petty baubles is not just tragic: it's an appalling blight on everything that is precious about this country.
Local media reported earlier this month that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) criticized President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for referring to China as a “neighboring country,” saying that this is no different from a “two-state” model and that it amounts to changing the cross-strait “status quo.” I find it quite impossible to understand why civilized Taiwan continues to tolerate the existence of such a deceitful group that believes its own lies. The relationship between Taiwan and China is the relationship between two countries, and neither has any jurisdiction over the other — this is the undeniable “status quo.” Those who believe in the
On Thursday, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — a regional economic organization whose 11 member countries have a combined GDP of US$11 trillion. That is less than China’s 2019 GDP of US$14.34 trillion, so why is China so eager to join? China says there are two main reasons: To consolidate its foreign trade and foreign investment base, and to fast-track economic and trade relations between China and member countries of the CPTPP free-trade area. China’s bilateral trade with these countries grew from US$78 billion in 2003 to US$685.1 billion last year, mostly because of China’s 2005
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) talked on the telephone on Thursday last week, the first time the two leaders have done so since Biden assumed the presidency. While each side sought to put their own gloss on the content of the conversation, some common ground did emerge. Biden reportedly said that both sides have a joint responsibility to ensure that competition between the US and China does not spiral into conflict and that there is no reason that the two nations are destined to fall into this trap. The day after the phone call, the Financial Times reported
WASHINGTON [Special Commentary]: It is just a teensy-weensy change, a change of one little syllable. It is barely noticeable unless you’re watching really carefully: The Tai-“pei” Representative Office in Washington, D.C. (TECRO) could soon change its name — just ever so very slightly — to Tai-“wan” Representative Office. The office’s “TECRO” initials would remain the same. It will be only a symbolic change. London’s Financial Times reported last week that such a change may soon be coming. The timing was a bit awkward, though. The FT’s report came out on the very same day that Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮)