More than a month after the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) defeat in the presidential election, the party’s internal post-election analysis has turned to the question of whether the party’s overall policy and it’s China policy should be adjusted amid a struggle over who should take over as party chairperson. Regardless of who takes over from DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the two major issues for any successor will be rethinking the party’s China policy and reforming the party’s domestic organization.
Unlike some people within the party who followed up on the election defeat by suggesting rash, ad hoc adjustments to its China policy, anyone contending for the party chairpersonship must eschew such shallow thinking and put forward a long-term, comprehensive and visionary view of how the domestic situation will change in China, the development of cross-strait relations and Sino-US relations and the interactions between all these, that covers at least the next four years. That will be the only way to move the party toward pragmatic transformation and a stable and balanced China policy for the 2016 elections.
Earlier this month, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is expected to take over from Chinese President, Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) when he steps down later this year, received a high-profile reception when he visited the US.
Even in the US, opinion is divided on how to deal with Xi, who over the next decade is expected to shoulder responsibility for creating a calm and stable domestic Chinese economy and guide the nation’s peaceful rise in the international arena, so it is not very strange that the same problem is occurring in Taiwan.
For the working public in the US, China is a rising regional power whose influence over international finance, economy and trade is increasing daily, but cheap and inferior Chinese goods and the Chinese currency exchange rate continue to cast a malign influence on the US public’s impression of China. Meanwhile, US business circles and unions are playing up the China card to strengthen protectionism.
China’s continued military expansion and increasing military expenditure is providing US arms manufacturers with a good reason to lobby for increased defense budgets and new weapons development. For neoconservatives who continue to adhere to US unilateralism, China is a competitor as the US attempts to strengthen its position as global leader.
Human rights and democracy activists focus their criticism on the backwardness of China’s democratization process. Over the past 40 years, China’s economy has experienced double digit growth every year and it may soon become the world’s biggest economy. It’s political and economic influence is spreading to Africa, Central and South America and Southeast Asia, and it’s influence over international affairs has led to a critical situation in the US’ dealings with Iran and North Korea.
This is the overall picture that pro-localization supporters and dogmatists in the pan-green camp either cannot see or deliberately ignore. That is the reason some more insightful people in the DPP have been attacked for using this situation as an excuse to push for a move toward the center of the political spectrum and maybe even move closer to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) stance on cross-strait issues.