Fri, Jul 18, 2008 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Rare, wise words from Annette Lu

When former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) speaks out she doesn’t always get things right, but she hit the nail on the head on Tuesday when she accused the new government of having “no global outlook” and only “having eyes for China.”

Look at the two months since the Ma administration took office and the evidence is overwhelming.

First, we had the talk about opening the real estate market to Chinese investment and the accompanying promises of a property boom, followed by invitations to Chinese investors interested in bankrolling the government’s “i-Taiwan 12 infrastructure projects.” Then we had the hastily negotiated deal on cross-strait flights and the anticipation of Chinese tourists arriving with wads of cash to spend. Last week, the government announced it would allow semiconductor firms to build 12-inch wafer fabs in China. Then, on Tuesday, news emerged that the 40 percent cap on China-bound investment would be scrapped.

All this has occurred against a background of local government officials falling over themselves to cross the Taiwan Strait in search of “economic benefits.”

Meanwhile, relations with Japan have hit a low following the Diaoyutais spat and the US, Taiwan’s best friend and most important security guarantor, is beginning to look increasingly blase on the subject of arms sales.

Of course, the new government has been in power for less than 60 days and it may need more time to find its feet, but the early signs are not encouraging. The trail it has blazed so far is leading in an ominous direction.

It is irrelevant whether, as has been reported, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman John Kuan (關中) actually said the KMT needs to roll back all the de-Sinification efforts the Democratic Progressive Party government made during its eight years in power, as the new government’s actions have already demonstrated that this is what it is trying to do.

The KMT government has fully embraced its cross-strait rival and former enemy without a hint of inhibition, yet like a meeting between long-lost friends where one side is still not quite sure, Beijing has allowed Taiwan to fawn, but with a measure of apprehension on its part.

This is understandable, as China’s goal is to bring Taiwan to heel. Beijing’s strategy is to throw the Taiwanese enough bones to keep them interested, but not enough to help them prosper, as this would only prolong the completion of its “sacred mission” of unification. China is only interested in bleeding Taiwan dry before eventually forcing it to give in to its demands. This is why the promised windfall and economic benefits that are supposed to accompany increased ties with China will never materialize.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) may have promised no independence, no unification and no use of force as his cross-strait platform, but, as many now acknowledge, he does not wield enough power within the ranks of his own party.

The KMT’s pro-China old guard — reinstated to power during the reign of Lien Chan (連戰), Ma’s predecessor as KMT chairman — is in control and working behind the scenes, taking advantage of the secretive party-to-party communication channel that Ma failed to close, to bring Taiwan and China closer at the expense of ties to the rest of the world.

Lu has noticed this and has spoken out. How much more will it take before others start to do the same?

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