While it was encouraging to see that on Jan. 9 the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) unveiled its long-awaited China policy, it was disappointing to learn that former presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has expressed strong reservations and is still pushing his own policy line.
The DPP’s China policy was the fruit of a lengthy consultation process, in which the party’s China Affairs Commission convened nine meetings at which about 630 participants — party officials, civic groups, academics and experts — presented their views and insights.
As expected, the party left its 1999 Party Resolution on Taiwan’s Future unchanged. This states that Taiwan is already an independent country, and that any change in the country’s “status quo” can only be made by the people of Taiwan by means of a plebiscite.
The document states that cross-strait interaction is to be welcomed, but emphasizes that it needs to be done in a transparent fashion, that it must not undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty and security and that it needs to encompass promotion of freedom, democracy and human rights.
The policy document also outlines a strategy for improving Taiwan’s economic and industrial development, building on the country’s technological strengths. It decries the erosion of the economy and imbalances introduced by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) overreliance on economic ties with China, and argues for a more balanced development of external trade relations through membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The document also highlights that Taiwan’s free and open society is being threatened by what it refers to as the “China Factor”: Through its economic power, China has begun to “permeate Taiwanese society and gradually reshaped the free and open way of life that the people of Taiwan have enjoyed, subtly but tangibly restricting the range of political choice for Taiwanese voters.”
Last but not least, the document outlines a more balanced national security strategy, which enhances the nation’s international status and bolsters its national defense capabilities through “values diplomacy” (combining the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights with Taiwan’s accumulated experiences in good governance) and the buildup of asymmetric capabilities in its defense against China’s military aggression.
Former US National Security Council director Michael Green said that it is a comprehensive and reasonable approach that reflects that a lot of thinking has gone into it. He added that it represents a careful calibration that reflects sensitivity to US interests and concerns.
The reactions from the KMT and China were predictable. Newspapers associated with the KMT, still clinging to the anachronistic “Republic of China” concept dating back to former president Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) heyday in China, criticized the report as “inflexible.”
Beijing also had the usual knee-jerk reaction: The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office accused the DPP of having a “rigid mindset.” Of course Beijing will only be satisfied if the DPP discards Taiwan’s hard-won freedom and democracy.
However, the most silly reaction came from within the DPP itself: Hsieh said that the report had been a failure and that if the DPP wants to win the 2016 presidential election, it must make changes in its China policy.
If Hsieh has the DPP’s interests in mind, he needs to be a better team player. He also needs to realize that Taiwan cannot retain its freedom and democracy if it sells its principles and values down the river.
Mei-chin Chen is a commentator based in Washington.
Over the past few years, migrant workers’ rights have improved in Taiwan, but there has not been a comparable improvement in protections for employers, who are faced with a range of challenges, such as family nurses mistreating patients or workers threatening to change brokers or demanding that employers change their jobs. Then there is the decrease in work standards. Migrant workers too often find the lure of the underground jobs market irresistible, are unaware of employment laws and regulations, or have found that National Immigration Agency (NIA) checks are lax, and as a result abscond. If this happens, what protections or
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has been giving daily COVID-19 updates for almost four months, and on several occasions when major developments have arisen, the news conferences have attracted large numbers of viewers. The entire nation is anxious about the pandemic, and interest in the latest news has become a part of daily life. Watching the center’s daily news conferences has become something of a national ritual. The pandemic has stabilized within Taiwan due to the admirable efforts of each person living in the nation conducting themselves with the utmost responsibility, and in certain cases making considerable sacrifices within their
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. In that war’s aftermath, novelist George Orwell produced two prophetic works. The first, Animal Farm, was published in August 1945; the second, Nineteen Eighty-Four, came out in June 1949. Both still ring true and cover a wide range of messages, including even how the mid-sized nation of Taiwan achieved its democracy and why it still maintains an outlier status in a COVID-19 world. With its full planetary scope, WWII left untold millions dead and injured, cities were destroyed and the future path of most nations was altered. New
United States Senator “Kit” Bond (R-MO) was a real leader on Asia policy during his time in Congress. Like most senators, he had a ready one-liner for every occasion. The one I never tired of hearing is “Well, looks like everything has been said. The problem is not everyone has said it.” It’s sort of like with US-China great power competition. There is not much new to say. This is especially true because it’s largely a story of what’s already happened: BRI, Made in China 2025, aggression in the South China Sea, provocations on the Indian border, cyber-hacks, erosion of “one country,