The central committee of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) claims that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) heartily approves of the outcome of the forum held by the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Shanghai on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, and that he was kept fully informed of the talks as they progressed. The KMT says that five civil servants who attended the forum were recommended to do so by the government, and that there is no question of the party leading the government as far as the forum is concerned.
At the same time, former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has been making strenuous efforts to make it clear that there is no rivalry or jealousy between himself and serving KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄).
Somehow, the more clarifying the KMT and Lien do, the less credible they seem.
First, the rivalry between Lien and Wu is a proxy engagement for that between Lien and Ma. Antagonism between the Lien and Ma camps has been going on for a long time — from the 2004 presidential election campaign and the protests following the “319” shooting incident that occurred on the eve of that election, through their competition for the KMT chairmanship, to the question of who would attend November’s APEC forum in Lima. At the recent KMT-CCP forum, the rivalry raised its head again, by proxy, over the question of who would enter the venue alongside Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and who would sit at Hu’s right-hand side. Actually, the sight of Wu and Lien competing for the Chinese leader’s affection was rather nauseating.
Secondly, does Ma really think a lot has been gained from this round of KMT-CCP talks? Wu seems very pleased with himself on account of the favors he has won from China, claiming that they are “the real beef.” Why, then, have the Mainland Affairs Council, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) all rushed to pour cold water on China’s pledges? SEF Deputy Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) and Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) have both cautioned Taiwanese doing business in China not to be overoptimistic about the Chinese side’s promises to provide them with 130 billion yuan (US$19 billion) in funding and to buy US$2 billion in Taiwan-made display panels. Kao and Yiin advised Taiwanese investors in China to rely on their own strengths. To illustrate their point, they raised the examples of China’s earlier promise that the China Development Bank and Huaxia Bank would extend loans totaling 50 billion yuan to Taiwanese businesses, but potential borrowers were unable to secure the loans because the lending conditions were too strict.
Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), a KMT legislator who used to be in the Ma camp, said: “Taiwanese investors in China all say they can see what’s on offer but they can’t get their hands on it.”
So Wu must have had mixed feelings when he returned to Taiwan. The cold-water treatment from the government has put Wu in his place.
Originally, the KMT was staking all hope for Taiwan’s economy on China, but things have not worked out over the past few months, and orders for Taiwanese goods for delivery to China and Hong Kong plunged 45.38 percent in November compared with the same month in 2007.
If truth be told, the KMT is well aware of China’s empty promises, but does not dare to say so openly. For example, it does not care to mention the fact that China’s conditions for making loans to Taiwanese businesses have been far from generous all along, giving Taiwanese investors the impression that China is only using the offer of funding to gain control over markets. With their latest funding offer, for example, Chinese are demanding that those seeking to borrow ask the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland — a group used by China to keep tabs on Taiwanese investors — to act as guarantor.