Wed, Nov 14, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Tsao is barking up the wrong tree

Lively debate has followed former UMC chairman Robert Tsao's (曹興誠) advertisement in local Chinese-language newspapers asking that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) join forces to push for a Taiwan Strait peace and coexistence act to provide a fundamental solution to the cross-strait issue and end domestic political quarreling.

Tsao's enthusiasm and his preparedness to buy ad space in the local media may be somewhat helpful for the newspapers' business, but for all that, his suggestions are hardly feasible.

By placing the ad in Taiwan rather than in China, and by pleading to the two main local parties, Tsao makes it seem as if the problem lies in Taiwan, when in fact China is the problem. As a result, China will not pay much attention to Tsao's ad.

China has deployed almost 1,000 missiles targeting Taiwan along its coast. It is making unification a premise for discussing direct links; it has passed an "Anti-Secession" Law threatening invasion of Taiwan; and it suppresses Taiwan's international space. It is also a dictatorship. These are the reasons Taiwanese don't want to be ruled by China. China is the problem.

Tsao suggested that the DPP and the KMT cooperate to solve the cross-strait impasse by passing a peace and coexistence act. The problem with this is that the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait must want to resolve the conflict for such a law to be of any use. What use would such domestic legislation be if China ignored it completely or even decided to act on its "anti-secession" law?

Tsao also suggested a unification referendum, but how could Taiwan today hold such a referendum with the differences that exist between the political systems and the political atmosphere on each side of the strait? Even if conditions on both sides improved, there would be no need for a peace and coexistence law since a unification referendum could be organized based on the Referendum Act (公投法). Tsao's law would be nothing but a symbolic joke that binds Taiwan. It is naive to think that cross-strait peace and coexistence could result from passing a domestic law of this kind.

Although Ma advocates eventual unification, he is not so naive. He knows that it is China that is threatening to use military force and that is why he's demanding that China remove its missiles. He also knows that a domestic law is of no use, and that peace requires negotiations between the two governments to build a consensus. Peace can only be guaranteed if both sides sign a peace agreement.

Neither clearly rejecting nor approving the suggestions, Hsieh takes a flexible approach and says he respects the right of individuals to make suggestions and that he is willing to enter into peace negotiations on an equal footing with China.

Taiwan is small and weak compared with China and is thus at a disadvantage. It must avoid impulsive actions based on immature ideas lest its options deteriorate further.

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