In reading think tank research fellow Margot Chen's (陳麗菊) article ("A three-fold path in the search for our nation," Oct. 7, page 8), my heart fills with an inexpressible sense of oppressiveness. As Chen points out, Taiwan's political stage has three combinations of policies: political and economic unification, political independence but economic unification, or political and economic independence.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), advocating the "1992 consensus" and ultimate union with China, represents both political and economic unification. Economically, the KMT proposes direct cross-strait links, investment in China, as well as a common market -- all steps toward an economic merger.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) represents political independence coupled with economic unification. Though the party does not lack grassroots proponents of economic autonomy, its main policy-makers adopt an "actively open" policy which in the last two years has been adapted to an "effectively open" policy. Regardless, the end result is a one-China market of economic unity similar to that of the KMT.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) champions political and economic independence, and considers Taiwan's autonomy to be an established fact that requires only the normalizing of its official title and amendments to the Constitution. Economically, the TSU advocates investing in Taiwan and Taiwanese autonomy as opposed to further economic amalgamation.
Of the three, the policies of the KMT and the TSU are coherent, without contradictions between political and economic strategies. The DPP's views, however, are more peculiar, as the principles of Taiwanese autonomy and economic unification are diametrically opposed.
Furthermore, as China's primary cross-strait strategy is to press unification through economic advantage, the DPP's tactics are highly contentious and risky.
Of course, I do not wish to see a hardline unificationist political force come to power to undo the hard-earned democratic progress we have achieved. The battle between Taiwan and China, democratic freedom and authoritarian control hinges on next year's elections.
The problem is, if the DPP opens Taiwan to China even further after winning the election, then Taiwan's economic dependence is bound to deepen. Consequently, middle to lower class Taiwanese will follow industries abroad.
Taiwan requires a truly grassroots opposition, such as the TSU, with enough clout to champion political and economic independence and to balance, oppose and criticize the DPP's headstrong economic policies.
Had the TSU not opposed the 2002 attempt to open 12-inch-wafer plants in China, Taiwan would not possess its 13 plants, with seven more under construction.
Instead, China would be the semiconductor kingdom of the world. The same goes for the Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development: Were it not for opposition raised by the TSU, the 40 percent cap on Chinese investment would have been relaxed, the yuan would be flooding the Taiwan market, and the TAIEX would not be enjoying its recent 9,000-point prosperity.
Experience shows that a grassroots opposition party advocating political and economic independence can truly check the DPP's Chinese inclinations and protect economically disadvantaged voters, a key element in Taiwan's political and economic development.