Despite the reservations and concerns of opposition parties and representatives of service industries in Taiwan, the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits signed a cross-strait service trade agreement in Shanghai last week. This was a prime example of the “close party-to-party negotiations” model used by the two “Chinese” parties — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — that is currently monopolizing cross-strait relations.
The warnings given by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) national security adviser Rex How (郝明義) before the pact was signed — that domestic publishers were in danger of being eradicated or bought up by Chinese firms, and that the choice, freedom and diversity that the sector enjoys would disappear — have become a reality.
By opening service industries to Chinese influence, the Ma administration has left the door wide open for a cultural invasion, which is perhaps the most pernicious influence from abroad Taiwan has faced since the advent of China’s economic might.
Ideally, cross-strait economic dealings should be fair and mutually beneficial, but there has been no assessment on the impact the service pact will have on Taiwanese industries. The government has also failed to offer to subsidize any of the sectors that are to be affected before it signed the agreement, leaving them to face the music on their own.
Now that Taiwan is to give access to 64 of its service industries to China, opening the door for Beijing to flood these sectors, Taiwanese professionals are destined to become workers in an economic Chinese colony, stripped of their economic, political and cultural autonomy. For this reason, the agreement needs to be sent to the legislature for a clause-by-clause review so the public can find out exactly what implementing the pact will entail.
Over the past few weeks, the Ma administration has put eradicating drunk driving at the top of its agenda, with new legislation to fight this behavior being reported in the media almost daily. However, this was but a smokescreen to shield the CCP and the KMT as they negotiated the service trade pact and the establishment of cross-strait representative offices.
Dealing with the problem of drunk driving is of course important, but the effects of the service trade pact and the representative offices will be felt far more keenly than the effects of stopping drunk drivers. If Ma’s administration succeeds in its gambit of using drunk driving as a distraction to cover up its close negotiations with the CCP, all it will take for the two parties to sign an agreement conducive to unification is for the government to come up with another big news story with which to keep the public busy. By the time the public becomes aware of this sleight of hand, it will be too late.
What have Taiwanese done to deserve a government that seems to pull out all the stops to deceive them? Did it not do the same thing when it signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in 2010? At the time of the ECFA’s signing, only the CCP and the KMT were privy to the details of the negotiation, while the public and the legislature were kept in the dark.
From the beginning of his tenure in power, Ma — who is both president of the country and chairman of the KMT — has been engaged in a battle of wills with the public to force his agenda onto the nation. Furthermore, he seems to have acquired a taste for this and is up to his old tricks again with the services pact and the establishment of the representative offices on either side of the Taiwan Strait.