In a videoconference with a US think tank a few days ago, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) referred to a poll by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) that claimed 70 percent of people support an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China. He said this was because the public realizes that none of the six agreements China and Taiwan have reached over the past 10 months sacrificed Taiwan’s sovereignty, and that the government retained the public’s trust. Ma also said there was no question that the “six points” in Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) New Year speech were a positive development for cross-strait relations, and that the ECFA proposal was based on concrete suggestions in those points.
Ma’s jokey dismissal of concerns that he is selling Taiwan down the river is worlds away from the public’s position on this issue. He has not acknowledged that the “70 percent support” in the MAC poll is inexplicable. He privileges inflated opinion polls over genuine public opinion. Before the MAC poll came out, a media outlet conducted a poll that showed 90 percent of respondents felt the government should explain what an ECFA would entail — and that more than 70 percent did not know what an ECFA meant. A sizable majority of the public thus has no idea why the government is in such a frenzy. That raises doubts about the MAC poll’s credibility.
It is frightening how Ma is connecting the ECFA to Hu’s “six points,” the first of which states that China is committed to “one China” and that China and Taiwan belong to “one China.” Other issues — a comprehensive cross-strait economic agreement, Taiwan’s international participation and a peace agreement — must be handled within a “one China” framework.
Ma said that Hu’s “six points,” which aim to annex Taiwan, were a “positive development” and he has proposed that the ECFA follow on from this “progress.” The ECFA — in the guise of an economic pact — is thus a platform for binding Taiwan to China. Relinquishing Taiwan’s power and humiliating its people while claiming that sovereignty is not being compromised is balderdash. Ma must think the public is easily deceived, or else how would they fall for this ganging up with China to advance unification by economic means?
During Ma’s election campaign, he stressed he was running for the presidency of a sovereign nation, but all actions since his inauguration have aimed at roping Taiwan to China in order to achieve his dream of unification. He has exposed Taiwan to China like a moth to a flame, with no regard for a decaying economy and the tough times the public are experiencing.
Judging from his policy choices, Ma believes the public will accept China out of utter desperation if the economy continues to plummet. According to figures released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, unemployment increased again to 5.81 percent last month, while an IMF report stated that unemployment reached 6.3 percent. When graduates enter the picture later this year, these numbers will grow. Tough times may please Ma, because the unemployed may fantasize about the Chinese economy finding them work, and this could increase support for an ECFA.
The use of phony opinion polls makes a farce of democracy. In Ma’s videoconference, he said that Taiwan is a democracy, that no one can sell out Taiwan and that all citizens must decide on its future. But this contradicts his actions: keeping the details of an ECFA secret, not allowing the legislature to monitor any agreement and dismissing calls for a referendum on the matter.