Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Wanted: a government with backbone

News that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government was responsible for the freeze in arms procurement from the US, although initially shocking, should not have come as a surprise given the course the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has charted since coming to office.

In little more than four weeks the government has already managed to harm or reverse much of the work of the previous government in protecting Taiwan’s sovereignty and upholding its dignity.

The Ma administration has, in record time, managed to denigrate the nation’s sovereignty and the standing of its leader while ingratiating itself to China, all in return for a few minor economic rewards from Beijing.

But a new low was reached last week when it was revealed that it was the government that requested the US government halt some US$12 billion in arms sales, although now it appears the scene was set several months before Ma took office.

Notwithstanding the vast amounts of money Beijing is investing in improving its war machine, it is a safe bet that many voters did not believe a total freeze was what Ma meant when he promised “not to engage in an arms race with China” ahead of the presidential election.

Many voters who gave their backing to Ma in March would surely have had second thoughts if they had known what he was planning.

Volunteering to put a halt to arms procurement — when a great deal of uncertainty exists over the future of the sales — was a shortsighted, reckless move that could have serious ramifications.

The KMT, as an opposition party, was responsible for a delay of several years for many of the items on the shopping list. Should the delay continue until a new president takes up residence in the White House, the US may decide to make it permanent.

This may seem implausible, but there is legitimate concern as Taipei cuddles ever closer to China that advanced US military technology may eventually fall into Chinese hands.

Add to this the fact that the KMT has already ganged up with the Chinese Communist Party to marginalize the independence movement, and the question follows: What’s to stop the KMT throwing in its chips with a rising China in the battle against the world’s only superpower?

It has been stated time and time again that in order to get what it wants from cross-strait negotiations, Taiwan needs to enter talks from a position of strength, instead of rolling over and exposing its belly like a faithful pooch being petted by its master.

As we saw last week, when Taiwan enters into negotiations with the Chinese at a disadvantage, all it can do is agree to what Beijing wants. It has no bargaining chips with which to stave off China’s aggressive agenda.

Of course, some Taiwanese are tempted by the supposed benefits that will arise from closer economic ties with China, but it is presumptuous in the extreme to think that they would sacrifice their freedom to secure such benefits. The spineless, fawning attitude of this government, should it continue, ignores this and thus poses a very real threat to that freedom.

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