In the complicated world of politics, it is pathetic for a government to act as though it is unaware of hostile schemes, but downright despicable if it is well aware of an adversary’s scheming yet chooses to look the other way. In view of the latest developments concerning the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, one can’t help but wonder if the latter scenario is the direction in which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government is heading.
On Sunday at a roundtable meeting held on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia, Chinese delegates called for the signing of an ECFA, stressing how both sides of the Taiwan Strait could benefit from the pact. Several delegates also said the ECFA could help “speed up the goal of a unified motherland.”
A day earlier, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) also expressed support for an ECFA during a meeting with the head of the Taiwanese delegation, Fredrick Chien (錢復). Saying that “one China” is the “cornerstone for the development of peaceful cross-strait relations,” Xi was quoted by the media as saying that “compatriots from both sides of the Strait are members of the Chinese nation (中華民族) and that cross-strait economics are part of the Chinese economy (中華民族經濟).” He added that strengthened economic cooperation from both sides was “helpful in jointly promoting prosperous national economic development and safeguarding and broadening the overall interests of the Chinese nation.”
Wang Yi (王毅), director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, told a press conference later that same day that “the foundation of cross-strait economic cooperation comes from closeness of blood, the shared sentiments of compatriots and love of the nation … which exceeds the usual business partnerships and simple exchange of business interests.”
While some may be quick to dismiss these remarks as the usual rhetoric of Chinese officials, what those people are doing is simply turning a blind eye to the obvious. The truth is, all these statements from the Chinese officials, spoken against the backdrop of the proposed ECFA, show that politics is written all over the so-called cross-strait trade pact.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), speaking at the National People’s Congress earlier last month, also issued a call for the completion of an ECFA. Wen said the Chinese government would continue developing cross-strait relations to realize the ultimate goal of peaceful national unification and that striking an ECFA with Taiwan was a priority.
Judging from these remarks, it is obvious that the true purpose behind Beijing’s support for an ECFA is to help realize its goal of “taking back” Taiwan.
Their remarks also debunked claims by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration that an ECFA has nothing to do with politics.
Time and again, Ma has stated that a referendum is unnecessary because the proposed ECFA is an economic matter that is related to neither politics nor sovereignty.
It is shocking that ordinary people can see China’s cunning intent behind its support for an ECFA, yet the Ma administration still fails to connect the dots and insists otherwise. Or could it be that the government simply chooses to play dumb?
If the Ma government is too dumb to figure out China’s devious scheme, that would be all the more reason for a referendum on an ECFA to let the people speak for themselves.