Thu, May 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

The DPP's long road back to its core values

By Huang Tien-lin 黃天鱗

On May 16, amid calls for unity following the party's presidential primary, the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Central Standing Committee finally established a team to draft a "resolution on making Taiwan a normal country" (正常國家決議文) amending the 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" (台灣前途決議文).

Since its birth in 1986, the DPP has offered four definitions of the nation's political status. This push for another resolution is a review of the 1999 resolution, which is said to have been proposed to attract moderate voters in the 2000 presidential election.

Regardless of the motive, the 1999 resolution rejects neither a national title nor a system of the Republic of China (ROC) -- the main reason why the party has achieved little concerning Taiwan's national status over the past seven years. After President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) came to power in 2000, his "four noes and one without" promise to the US followed the spirit of the 1999 resolution. "Constitutional one China," "one country, two cities," and other vague definitions are also related to the 1999 resolution.

Still, the DPP's biggest problems arise from economics rather than the politicals. The 1999 resolution was a byproduct of the party's decision to lean toward the pan-blue camp's economic policy.

In 1996, the DPP, without a clear China policy, elected pro-China Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) as its seventh chairman. In 1998, Hsu directed an internal DPP debate on party policy and succeeded in promoting the idea of "strengthening the base and going west."

Since then, the pro-localization DPP has been afflicted with the concept of "using business to promote unification."

Economics always influence politics, and the 1999 resolution was created in the atmosphere of economic integration. When the party came to power, the "using business to promote unification" strategy developed further.

In October 2001, those who promoted moving westward directed the creation of the "resolution on creating a new phase for Taiwan's economy" (開創台灣經濟新局決議文), thus putting "boldly go west" in writing. Although it did not mention economic integration or future unification, the policy of "actively promoting the integration of economic resources with China" clearly echoed Beijing's strategy of using business to promote unification.

The damage of the 2001 resolution on Taiwan is self-evident. The new economic phase was never created. Overseas production of our manufacturing industries quickly exceeded 40 percent, with 90 percent of our overseas investment concentrated in China. Unemployment went up, real incomes dropped and businesspeople investing in China benefited while the general public suffered. An M-shaped society has formed, angering the public.

The worst damage was psychological, creating the misconception that China is not our enemy. As a result, Beijing's passing of the "Anti-Secession" Law (反分裂國家法), the visits to China by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) leaders, the KMT's presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) call for "eventual unification" have received little criticism.

But maybe Taiwan is blessed. I am glad to see the DPP consensus returning to the party's original spirit. The writing of the new resolution is likely to be easily achieved since Taiwan's sovereignty cannot coexist with Beijing's strategy to "use business to promote unification."

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