President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had supported two things all his life: “safeguard the Diaoyutai Islands” (釣魚台) and “eventual unification.”
When former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) regime was pushed out of the UN in 1971, it lost its legitimacy as representative of China.
The next year, when his son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) took over, he mobilized intellectuals with a call to “implement reforms to safeguard Taiwan,” in order to resist pressure coming from the Chinese Communist Party. During that time, Ma joined calls from the left wing to safeguard the Diaoyutais.
Ma has never thought of Taiwan as a country or resisted China’s intention to annex it. After he enjoyed the fruits democratization and was elected president, he said that the Republic of China’s (ROC) sovereignty encompasses all China, though he dares not fight for that sovereignty.
Instead, he continues to play the game of protecting the Diaoyutais together with China.
Ma is of the opinion that he can do whatever he pleases because he no longer faces any re-election pressure. In doing so, he fails to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty and does nothing to protect the public’s standard of living or implement judicial reform, social fairness and justice. He manipulates the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) assets to control the party’s legislators and ignores public opinion. He calls for reform in order to attract votes to the KMT, while shoring up a corrupt system and maintaining special privileges by rejecting those very reforms.
To listen to the public and push for true reform, the opposition parties have suggested that a national affairs conference be held. The government’s response was to quote the Constitution and say that problems should be resolved “within the system.”
Public discontent and anger have reached boiling point and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has launched a series of protest marches, while the Ma administration continues to hide behind “the system.”
As the DPP’s protest marches gathered momentum, a KMT legislator quoted former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) as saying that: “Being angry at each other will not help support the nation,” in the hope that this would put out the fire.
This only highlights Ma’s ineptitude, ignorance of public opinion and reluctance to push for reform and protect Taiwan.
The “one China” consensus he has reached with Beijing and his support of “eventual unification” are a denial of Taiwan’s independence and sovereignty. They deepen the public’s sense of uncertainty and lose a collective goal to work toward.
Some Taiwanese businesspeople are even hoping to serve as members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in an attempt to seek protection in the event of unification.
Chiang Ching-kuo understood that the public wanted to separate Taiwan from China, and that the their greatest fear was Chinese annexation.
However, Ma keeps hiding behind the Constitution and talking about mutual non-recognition of sovereignty; mutual non-denial of authority to govern, special relations and peace dividends while ignoring the consequences of getting trapped inside Beijing’s “one China” framework.
Chiang Ching-kuo’s policy to implement reforms to safeguard Taiwan was half-baked and focused on interior affairs. Instead of putting in place free elections for the full legislature, he only allowed by-elections for a limited number of vacant seats.