In public, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said there will be no talk of unification, independence, nor military action, yet it is actively pursuing a policy of eventual unification with China. It is doing so using a two-pronged approach: one being political unification; the other, economic unification.
The administration is clearly in cahoots with Beijing in achieving economic convergence first, followed by political convergence, hoping businesses will force the political issue.
Their method is first to marginalize Taiwan, engineering a periphery-core relationship of dependence. From there, to make Taiwan a “special zone” politically, extinguishing Taiwan’s sovereignty and demoting Taiwan to a mere local administrative unit, with Beijing as the center.
Following the signing of the services trade pact between Beijing and Taipei, and the drive to establish representative offices in each other’s territories, crucial steps have been taken in laying of both the economic and political foundations.
In the five years since Ma took office, he has performed very poorly, which is reflected in consistently falling popularity ratings and most people’s view that he is an incompetent leader.
Yet he has shown startling commitment and progress in achieving eventual unification, in spite of the public’s objections.
In fact, because objectors have tried to block his way, he has instead withdrawn and taken to engaging the enemy in closed-door negotiations, signing himself and his country little by little, step by step, into indenture.
The speed of progress in laying these foundations has been the most startling of all.
In a few years, the government has forced through one policy after the other, from the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to the services trade agreement. The Taiwanese economy is moving from one in which its exports are over-reliant on China to one in which China is also impacting its domestic market.
As things are now, more than 900,000 small and medium-sized entreprises (SME) and over 5 million jobseekers would be affected. Taiwan’s economy is at risk of total collapse and the nation would be easy kill for China, with the conditions for political unification ripe.
In trying to push his eventual unification agenda through, Ma has been brash and overbearing. Before the ECFA was signed, public opinion was overwhelmingly against it, yet Ma ploughed on regardless, using the KMT majority to force it through.
The results have been what those who had objected to it had feared all along: Not only did the promised, significant benefits fail to materialize, but worse still, Taiwanese industries were weakened as a result.
Yet, before signing the services trade agreement, the Ma administration neglected to conduct a full impact assessment, nor did it consult with industry or carry out policymaking in a transparent way. Instead, it acted like a despotic ruler.
The government has conceded the deregulation of Taiwanese services relating to all aspects of life — from the cradle to the grave — with absolutely no safeguards in place.
It has claimed this deregulation is mutually beneficial, but Taiwan has a population of 23 million, compared with China’s 1.3 billion. The difference in the sizes of the respective economies is huge. Yes, Taiwanese businesses are already relocating to China en masse, but the numbers involved mean that they will scarcely dent the jobs market in China or threaten the survival of Chinese companies. However, if Chinese flood through our battlements, Taiwanese SMEs will soon become engulfed, finding it very difficult to survive.