Anyone familiar with Chinese history or who has read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms knows that the greatest way to defeat an opponent is to divide it and conquer it.
Moving from the battlefield to politics, the same principle applies, and the best way to ensure defeat is to provide one’s opponent with the opportunity to create divisions and exploit weaknesses. When divisions exist and are so serious as to threaten the stability of a fighting force, an opponent need not fight to the fullest of its abilities to ensure victory; all it has to do is aim repeatedly for the chink in the armor until victory is achieved.
Saturday’s “anti-Ma, anti-China” demonstration will be an important test for the pan-green camp and its ability to present a united front in the face of a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government that has repeatedly undermined, by design and incompetence, the stability and viability of Taiwan as a sovereign state.
The rally will be a venue for Taiwanese who disagree with the approach of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to peacemaking with China, which has been carried out in haste and, in many aspects, without the consent of the people. In this respect, the demonstration should set colors aside and embrace pan-blue supporters who voted for Ma, but who disagree with his pro-China policies.
But all this could come to nothing if the demonstrating camp allows itself to be fractured and fails to coalesce into a unified political force.
At the source of the division that threatens the stability of the pan-green camp is former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), whose alleged money-laundering has prompted pan-green supporters to distance themselves from him. Many, in fact, have opposed Chen’s participation in Saturday’s event.
Given the seriousness of the situation that faces the nation, it is no time for disunity in the pan-green camp, let alone for assumptions of guilt before a court verdict has been rendered. Whatever Chen may or may not have done with the “state affairs funds” and other money from state coffers, the fact remains that his is an unwavering voice for Taiwan’s right to exist as an independent country and that his administration made tremendous accomplishments in developing Taiwanese consciousness. For this alone, Chen should be allowed to participate.
Still — and he has already said he would do so — Chen must avoid the temptation to seize the spotlight (admittedly not an easy feat in his case) and, if he shows up, will have to do so as an ordinary citizen.
A low-key Chen on Saturday, added to respect by all for his right to participate, would do pan-green unity tremendous good and inoculate the opposition against KMT and Chinese Communist Party attempts to force open a wedge and break it once and for all.
The task at hand is formidable and if Taiwanese are to succeed, they must put small differences, egos and grudges aside and push in the same direction. Any deviation will only make it easier for the Ma administration to ignore the criticism directed at it and to press on with policies that put the survival of the nation on the sacrificial altar.
Taiwan cannot afford to go the way of the defeated in the Three Kingdoms.