Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) withdrew from the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) shortly after the party’s Central Executive Committee said it would expel her if she did not quit her job within three days. Lai said she would “stay focused on official business, do what she should and remain loyal to the public, her post and to the country.”
She also said she would still strive to carry out her center-left political ideology. Judging from the fact that Lai completely agrees with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration’s China policies and has actively implemented government policy on the deregulation of cross-strait economic exchanges since May 20, the TSU should have expelled her earlier.
Up until recently, the matter had been delayed, leaving a bad impression on the public.
In April, after being appointed MAC chairwoman, Lai announced her support for the so-called “1992 Consensus” and agreed fully with Ma and Vice President Vincent Siew’s (蕭萬長) “no independence, no unification and no use of force” policy. She even said on a number of occasions that there were no differences between her views and the cross-strait policies advocated by Ma and Siew.
Although Lai obtained approval from the TSU to serve as MAC chairwoman, the party did not clarify her remarks at the time. It would therefore be interesting to know whether the TSU has changed its position as Lai’s stance is obviously contradictory to the TSU party’s “Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state” position.
Lai has been the only pan-green official in the Ma administration. Even though she is MAC chairwoman and leans toward Ma and Siew’s cross-strait policies, she does not have any rights to make a decision, and is nothing if not Ma’s tool to relax cross-strait policies.
The Ma administration has been happy to use Lai’s “pro-localization” image to market its no-holds-barred policy deregulation. Ridiculously, Lai thought that “only by putting herself in this thankless frontline position” could she meet her goal of protecting Taiwan’s interests.
How does Lai protect Taiwan’s interests? Let’s look at the important deregulation measures carried out since May 20.
The government has signed deals on weekend direct chartered flights and an increase in the number of Chinese allowed to visit. The restrictions on the “small three links” and Chinese currency exchanges have been lifted. Five Chinese media outlets have set a branch office in Taiwan and the Taiwanese offices of Xinhua news agency and the People’s Daily have restored operations. County commissioners and mayors have been allowed to travel to China. The ratio of fund investments in China to foreign investment has been raised while the cap on China-bound investments have been lifted.
The application process for Chinese professionals visiting Taiwan has become more convenient and quicker.
Policies on Chinese investment in the domestic stock market have been relaxed. The government has tried to push forward the normalization of the “small three links.” The proposal to recognize Chinese educational credentials is still under discussion, but the proposal for Taiwanese businesspeople to serve as members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Local Committees has been halted because of public opposition. All these are what Lai calls serving the interests of Taiwan.
But are these various relaxation measures meant to serve the interests of Taiwan or the interests of Ma and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤)? From what we see now, it is the latter. Since the US financial crisis broke, Lai has helped the Ma administration push forward the policy that Taiwan’s economy must rely on China, despite the fact that the increasing industrial and capital outflows will erode Taiwan’s economy and financial system.
Once a legislator who led the public in protests against Chinese towel imports, Lai now champions cross-strait relations and thinks that the government should never offend China.
Since Lai’s policies are 100 percent in line with Ma and Siew’s and her achievements on cross-strait issues stand out among other ministers, she could follow up on her withdrawal from the TSU by joining the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and continue to serve the Ma administration.
Translated by Ted Yang.
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