When people 50 years from now look back on today, what will they think of the adjustments that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is currently making to its China policy? This is what I ask myself as I read the China policy review report that the DPP recently adopted. Seen from this point of view, my opinion of it may be somewhat different from that of other people.
The report is by no means earthshakingly original, but neither is it without significance, because although it does not present a clear policy program or guidelines for implementation, it does express certain values and attitudes. Given the atmosphere in which many people in the DPP and the pan-green political camp are opportunistically intent on expressing a pro-China attitude as a means of winning votes in the short term, the report’s persistence in upholding certain values seems a little anachronistic. If this persistence could be combined with policies that were more realistic and practical, the report would have more to offer at the present time.
A lot of people have been saying that the DPP should “go the last mile” in its China policy. The unspoken implication is that the DPP should abandon its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty by scrapping the “Taiwan independence clause” in its constitution. It goes without saying that the Chinese Communist Party wants the DPP to scrap the “Taiwan independence clause,” and it is no surprise that the pan-blue political camp should say the same thing, because they are closer to the Chinese government on the political spectrum than the DPP is. However, when DPP people sing the same tune, it is time to take a closer look. Rather than saying that they want to change the DPP’s position on sovereignty, it would be more accurate to say that these calls arise from certain practical considerations. Perhaps altering one’s positions for the sake of winning votes is a matter of accommodating to political realities, but if the DPP does so, how can it stick to its political values?
Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright once said in a television interview that if you have no vision or ideals for the future you will not know where you are going to take the country, but if you pay no attention to political realities you will never attain your ideals, no matter how idealistic you may be. Politics is a practical matter, but good politics must seek a balance between reality and ideals. If politicians and parties lose their political ideals, they will end up as pawns of political concepts set by others. However, if they only have ideals and do not address real problems in a practical way, they may also be eliminated from history. This is the challenge that the DPP faces.
Following the DPP’s defeat in the last general elections, many voices both inside and outside the party have been calling on it to review and reconsider its policies toward China. However, there are widely differing views about what aspects need to be reconsidered. In 2009, I wrote an article entitled “Say ‘deep thought,’ not ‘deep green’: confronting the inconvenient reality of China’s rise.” In the article, I advised the DPP to reach a more realistic analysis of China’s rise in the world, gain an understanding of rising China’s strength and weaknesses, and clearly recognize the opportunities and dangers that China’s rise presents. To put it simply, the main thrust of the article was a critique of the impractical and unrealistic Taiwan independence adventurism that the DPP had been voicing since the start of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) second term in office. I suggested that the party should be more realistic in its cognition and methods when dealing with China.