President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) call over the weekend for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to return to the provisional legislative session to “review” the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was disingenuous at best. \nMa said it was the DPP’s responsibility, as the nation’s largest opposition party, to return to the extra legislative session to “monitor the government.” \nSadly for Taiwan’s democratic institutions, “monitoring” the government under the Ma administration, where both the executive and legislative branches are dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has taken on an entirely different meaning. \nThe DPP walked out of the “review” on Friday because the KMT, which has about three-quarters of the seats in the legislature, used its majority to bypass a committee review and called instead for one month of deliberations. \nA clause-by-clause review of the ECFA has been nixed by the Cabinet and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT member. Faced with this situation and aware it has insuffient votes in the legislature to kill the ECFA as a whole, the DPP had little choice but to not participate in what is turning into nothing more than an unnecessary exercise to rubber-stamp the deal, for which every taxpayer in Taiwan is paying. \nWalking out was the right thing to do. Staying, or returning to the legislature and taking part in this travesty of deliberative democracy would confer an aura of legitimacy on the endeavor that it does not deserve. More than that, by participating in this KMT-orchestrated “review,” the DPP would make it possible for the Ma administration to tell the world that the process was transparent, fair and that the outcome reflected consensus between the two main parties. \nUnable to do its job of monitoring the government in the legislature, the DPP has been compelled to work outside the system. \nOf course, this action also exposes the DPP to accusations that it is acting “irrationally” and refusing to cooperate in the democratic process. Seen from abroad, those criticisms could even gain some traction. However, given its options, when forced to choose between being portrayed as “extremist” or actually doing what is right for the country, the DPP made the right decision. \nThough it is unlikely that this course of action will force the Ma administration to reconsider its ECFA policy, at least the DPP will have stuck to its principles and avoided becoming an accomplice in the perversion of democracy. That alone, however, will be insufficient. What the party must now do is come up with alternative strategies to either prevent an ill-reviewed ECFA from coming into force or, at a minimum, launch a public diplomacy campaign to explain to Taiwanese — and the world — why it could not be a participant in Wang’s legislative circus. \nFailing to do so — because of the DPP’s image problems in the international media — would make it easy for the KMT and governments who support the ECFA to cast the DPP in the role of a troublemaker. \nThe reluctant player here, the one who is exploiting the organs of democracy devoid of its heart and spirit, is the KMT, not the DPP.
“Testy,” “divisive,” “frigid,” “an exchange of insults” were some of the media descriptions of last month’s meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts. Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass said that, rather than the “deft handling” needed in US-China relations, this encounter was “mishandled, a terrible start [with] way too much public signaling.” Yet, contrary to conventional wisdom, the acrimonious encounter with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) and Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) was a great success for US diplomacy
In studies of Taiwan’s demographic changes, the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica has found that a mere 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women think getting married is an important life event. The institute also found that the government spending money or amending laws and regulations in order to encourage families to have children is having no impact on the birthrate. Opinions differ on whether this kind of change is a matter of national security, as Japan faces a similar situation, without having a negative impact on its economic strength. Fewer women are willing to marry and the divorce
Early last month, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), officially approved the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The strategy was supposed to demonstrate that China has a long-term economic vision that would enable it to thrive, despite its geopolitical contest with the US. However, before the ink on the NPC’s stamp could dry, China had already begun sabotaging the plan’s chances of success. The new plan’s centerpiece is the “dual-circulation” strategy, according to which China would aim to foster growth based on domestic demand and technological self-sufficiency. This would not only reduce China’s reliance on external demand; it would also
Interrupting the assimilation of Xinjiang’s Uighur population would result in an unmanageable national security threat to China. Numerous governments and civil society organizations around the world have accused China of massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and labeled Beijing’s inhumane and aggressive social re-engineering efforts in the region as “cultural genocide.” Extensive evidence shows that China’s forceful ethnic assimilation policies in Xinjiang are aimed at replacing Uighur ethnic and religious identity with a so-called scientific communist dogma and Han Chinese culture. The total assimilation of Uighurs into the larger “Chinese family” is also Beijing’s official, central purpose of its ethnic policies