Wed, Jul 15, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Why 2012 will be a deadly deadline

By J. Michael Cole 寇謐將

Another factor that makes 2012 such a dangerous time in the Strait — especially if there is a possibility of the KMT suffering defeat — is Beijing’s awareness that time is not on its side, and that the longer Taiwan remains separate from China, the further Taiwanese identity will consolidate and more so under a pro-independence government.

Just as dangerous would be Beijing sensing that it had come close to realizing its dream of annexation only to see the chance slip as the result of a democratic process. Chances are that rather than admit defeat, it would use force to complete its agenda, an option all the more attractive given the cuts the Ma administration has made to the defense establishment.

To experts looking in from the outside, Ma may appear to be a masterful and pragmatic politician, but by refusing to address the concerns of a majority of Taiwanese, and by undermining democracy in his pursuit of what he sees as a sacred mission, Ma is sowing the seeds for disaster.

By hailing Ma as a hero yet failing to understand the dynamics within Taiwan, and by neglecting to challenge him to act more democratically, all that the experts are doing is increasing the probability that 2012 will augur a grave threat to peace in the Taiwan Strait.

J. Michael Cole is a writer based in Taipei and the author of Democracy in Peril: Taiwan’s Struggle for Survival from Chen Shui-bian to Ma Ying-jeou.

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