The Chinese are good at political calculations, and they are particularly adept at division and subtraction. When the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) started to rule Taiwan, the party first divided the Taiwanese into two groups, luring one group to help it defend its regime. Today, Beijing has taken care of the KMT, and is now planning to cause division within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Since the DPP is unable to stop China from playing its tricks, the party’s only choice is to respond in kind and to avoid the Chinese trap. However, some politicians are incapable of keeping their mouths shut, and they love to make stupid comments that they believe to be clever, thus falling into the trap.
On April 8, former DPP premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that the party should review its failed China policies of the past and he also asked rhetorically how the public’s interests would be protected if the DPP were unable to regain power. His remarks may have been appealing and moving, but they are seriously flawed when applied to the debate over China policy.
First of all, Hsieh’s statement that “our past policies have failed” was ambiguous, because it was unclear whether he was implying that the policies were ineffective, or that they were the reason that the DPP failed to win the presidential elections in 2008 and last year.
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) never accepted Beijing’s “one China” policy and former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) never accepted the so-called “1992 consensus.” Despite that, they were able to develop cross-strait exchanges while maintaining that Taiwan was an independent and sovereign state. Such a China policy cannot be said to be a failure.
If Hsieh thinks that the DPP’s China policy is a failure because the party was defeated in the presidential elections, he has oversimplified people’s voting behavior. In addition, if the DPP’s China policy has failed, that means that the KMT’s China policy, which entails selling out Taiwan’s sovereignty, has succeeded. Does using this as a standard for determining whether the DPP’s China policy has been successful not imply that the DPP must work even harder than the KMT at selling out Taiwan for its China policy to be successful?
Without question, if the DPP wants to remain viable, it must not violate its core values by following a defeatist line. The DPP regaining power would help protect Taiwanese sovereignty, but there is no reason for the party to sacrifice national sovereignty to regain power.
More than half of Taiwanese refuse to accept Chinese annexation, and this is what provides the strongest support for rejecting a surrender to China. Late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) told former US ambassador Walter McConaughy that any government trying to hold peace talks with the Chinese Communist Party would create social turmoil, and that such a government was doomed to fail.
If the DPP really wants to protect the public’s interests, even though it is not currently the ruling party, it should focus on mobilizing a majority of the public to restrain the pro-unification camp. If it must sacrifice the public’s interests to regain power, it will lose its raison d’etre.
James Wang is a political commentator.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG