When talking about past leadership transitions in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the struggles between Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) are well known. Deng’s three rises and falls from grace all had to do with Mao. It’s not necessary to discuss which of the two was right, but Mao’s criticism that Deng “focused on insignificant issues, while ignoring the significant ones” as a way of saying that Deng was never around when something important happened was vivid. True or not, Mao’s comment could also describe some contemporary Taiwanese politicians.
Taiwan’s problems have come thick and fast, causing the stock market to fall for four consecutive days in the first week of the Year of the Rabbit. Fourteen Taiwanese fraud suspects were deported to China from the Philippines on New Year’s Eve and China has shown no intention of returning them to Taiwan for trial. It seems the Taiwanese--Chinese Agreement on Joint Cross-Strait Crime-Fighting and Mutual Judicial Assistance, signed in April 2009 isn’t worth the paper it was written on.
The Philippines is sending an envoy to Taiwan to explain the deportation, but has refused to apologize, instead saying the damage it has caused Taiwan was the result of Manila’s “one China” policy.
This is an unprecedented challenge to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) flexible diplomacy. Moreover, central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) revealed that after almost 20 years as a member of the Conference of Governors of South East Asian Central Banks, the organization is forcing the bank to change its membership name to “Central Bank, Chinese Taipei” following the admission of China. The government could only protest.
In the Asian Medical Students Association, of which Taiwan was a founding member, the nation was also forced to change its name following a proposal from a Chinese student; once again, the Ministry of Education could only protest.
This serious damage to Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity is the result of Chinese initiatives. China ignores the government’s talk about a new phase in cross-strait peace development and how a glimmer of peace can be seen in the Taiwan Strait — which, together with the Korean Peninsula, have been two east Asian flashpoints over the past 60 years. Instead, China is accelerating its pro-unification policy, directly attacking the “no unification” stance of the government, which is having problems handling the situation.
Why the rush? Beijing believes the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has to swallow it, either because the Chinese government believes the Ma administration has no bottom line, or because after signing the Economic Cooperative Framework Agreement (ECFA), it wants to leave the Ma administration with no way out.
China’s moves are in line with its core interests. Regardless of how external factors have changed over the past 60 years, all Taiwanese know is that Taiwan has never been able to control them. However, faced with a neighbor that constantly threatens to kick our door in, the public cares about and builds its judgment on what the government actually does.
That said, during the Lunar New Year holiday and into the Lantern Festival, all we saw Ma do was visit an old woman in Yilan County collecting recyclable materials who returned NT$1.1 million (US$37,400) to a police station after finding the money in the street, and campaigning for the KMT’s candidate in the upcoming legislative by--election in Greater Tainan, claiming that democracy should not be monopolized by one party. In this case, it seems he forgot that his party is monopolizing Taiwan’s democracy. In a veteran’s village he told residents to eat more rice so farmers can keep their jobs.