Thu, Nov 06, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan must stand up for itself

By Ing-wen Tsai 蔡英文

I urge the public to remember Nov. 3, 2008. On this day, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) once again pushed Taiwan significantly closer toward China.

In order to promote the visit of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mobilized all their resources and approaches. Suddenly, all voices of opposition vanished from our nation to create the illusion that everyone was looking forward to Chen’s visit. This was not the case. At a time when our government is trying to suppress public opinion with little regard for the feelings of our people while doing everything it can to please China, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must stand out as Taiwan’s major opposition party and make its position clear.

The DPP does not welcome Chen’s visit at this point in time for the following reasons:

First, Chen did not have to come to Taiwan. We have never opposed the idea that Taiwan should conduct talks with China on technical issues. But given the current political climate, social unrest could have been avoided if the government had conducted the talks at a third location. The reason the KMT insisted on inviting Chen to visit Taiwan was simply to shift attention from its falling approval ratings with a vainglorious “cross-strait reconciliation” ceremony.

Second, we oppose the superficial “ceremonial rule of the country” and demand that the Ma administration clearly explain what substantial economic benefits the talks will bring to the people of Taiwan. We demand to know how much the accelerated cross-strait exchanges will impact on our industries and labor market. We also demand to know whether the government has any measures in place to deal with the industries who may lose business and the workers who may lose their jobs as a result of these talks.

Since May 20, our government has repeatedly fooled the public and we cannot allow this to continue.

Following talks between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Chen in Beijing in June, our economy remained slow. While cross-strait tensions may have been alleviated, unemployment and bankruptcies have risen. The government has never stopped to examine its actions and has instead tried to further link Taiwan’s economy to China’s. This strategy is very risky and its benefits are limited.

After the talks in Taipei, Taiwan will have moved a huge step closer to the “one China” market. At this important historical juncture, we must tell those in power that they are wrong, and that our country’s economy cannot be managed this way. If the government continues on this path, Taiwan’s economy will become irreversibly dependent on China, which will turn the country into a second Hong Kong. If this were to happen, one might wonder if Taiwan would have any sovereignty left at all. What other choice will the Taiwanese have than to accept unification?

Third, there is not a single nation in the world that would proudly announce it has given up its sovereignty. Unfortunately, the Ma government has done just that. The nation’s flags that hung in the Grand Hotel were taken down for Chen’s visit. Taiwan is our country and if the talks were based on dignity, why did the flags have to go before the Chinese delegation arrived?

The Ma administration is allowing our nation to be humiliated. Ma has been president for almost half a year and may still not know what sovereignty or making concessions means. The DPP would like to tell Ma that hiding our flag is tantamount to hiding the nation and is a concession in terms of our national sovereignty.

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