Sun, Sep 04, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Tsai has more substance than Ma

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

Over the years, the pan-blue populace of Taipei has formed its own discourse regarding the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) cross-strait policies. According to this view, the DPP’s cross-strait policies have reached a dead end because the party advocates independence and refuses to accept the so-called “1992 consensus.” This makes the cross-strait issue a sweet spot for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in January’s presidential election, and an Achilles’ heel for the DPP. According to this discourse, a significant number of people in the pan-green camp also follow this view. However, a poll released on Aug. 22 by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views analyzing support for DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Ma showed that Taipei’s self-complacent discourse is no longer valid.

The poll shows that the public sees both Soong and Ma as far more seasoned politicians than Tsai, but believes she is a much stronger protector of Taiwan’s sovereignty and cares for Taiwan’s interests and peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Not only do the pan-green and pan-blue camps differ in their fundamental values regarding cross-strait policies, they even see the current state of affairs and future trends differently.

The Ma administration sees the rapid rise of China, propelling it to become the largest economy in the world, as an irreversible trend. To have any future whatsoever, according to the Ma camp, Taiwan must depend entirely on China both economically and diplomatically. The idea seems to be that there is nothing to fear with China on Taiwan’s side. Taiwan’s current trade surplus with China is 10 times that with the US — ample proof of how much Taiwan depends on China.

The Ma government is set on steering the nation toward becoming a vassal state of China, and complains that the DPP’s independence-oriented politics and their fight for autonomy are incompatible with this goal. They claim that the radicalism during the later part of Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) presidency simply did not work, and that Tsai’s policies of stability wouldn’t work either because she does not acknowledge the “1992 consensus.” And for that reason alone, they call all of her policies vague and empty. The nickname they have given Tsai — kongxincai (空心蔡) — describes her as empty and vague. This name is on the lips of every pan-blue camp politician and even some pan-green camp politicians.

Since 2008, the Ma administration has had a fear-nothing attitude because it feels having China on its side makes it impervious to insult or injury. The administration’s cross-strait policies have included several “concrete” suggestions such as a diplomatic truce, a peace agreement, a mutual trust mechanism for military matters, advancing the three direct links with China as rapidly as possible and signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. Ma also made more concrete domestic promises during his first presidential campaign — originally known as the “6-3-3” pledge: a promise to keep economic growth above 6 percent and both unemployment and inflation below 3 percent, which has now been followed by the “54321 goal.” That is economic growth of above 5 percent, an unemployment rate of below 4 percent, income growth of above 3 percent, consumer price index growth of less than 2 percent and total private investment of more than NT$1 trillion (US$34.2 billion). Armed with these very specific and pleasant-sounding ideas, those supporting the Taipei discourse eloquently criticize Tsai’s cross-strait policies as being empty and vague.

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