I did not imagine that, only four years later, many people in the DPP would have drifted in quite another direction. Intentionally or otherwise, they have stopped talking about principles and are now portraying themselves as more pragmatic than anyone else. The so-called last mile that some people say the DPP should run really means playing a role set by Beijing and it means abandoning the party’s ideals altogether. That would be not just a betrayal of the DPP’s traditions, but a reversal of the trend of historical development in Taiwan, China and East Asia as a whole. The kind of “realism” that entails voluntarily falling silent on democracy, freedom and human rights, for the sake of being accepted by Beijing, is not just servile and obsequious, but also a betrayal of those Chinese people who have made sacrifices and contributions in pursuit of those selfsame ideals, and all those who have helped them.
The day may come when China really institutes democracy and that could prompt other East Asian countries to carry out a new wave of democratization. If and when that day arrives, how will Taiwanese feel when they look back on the current opportunistic and miserable positions that some among them have been adopting? If the DPP does go down that road, it will be tantamount to abandoning its duty to take the lead in finding a historical direction. The destination of the last mile may well be the loss of the party’s rightful place in history.
Nevertheless, if the DPP wants to lead the course of history, it will have to get through the bottleneck that does indeed lie before it. What course should the DPP take in the face of a strong China wielding massive state capital and the attraction of its huge market? The DPP may criticize the China-leaning economic policies of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government, but if it offers no alternative policies or arguments to the Ma administration’s line of giving the highest or even exclusive priority to free trade, it may well be at a loss for words when dealing with China’s state capitalism, which has arisen on the tide of globalized trade. What the DPP does in the future may then be little different from what the Ma administration has been doing.
What explanations can the DPP offer in Taiwan and abroad for wanting to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement while remaining critical about trade with China? The DPP’s China policy review report presents very scant analysis of where China’s economy, finance, industry and markets are headed. In fact, proposing a set of arrangements for economic and trade relations across the Taiwan Strait is closely connected with the kind of economic and social order that the DPP wants to see in Taiwan. This is something that cannot be achieved just by collating the opinions of various experts and it may be something that lies beyond the framework of the DPP’s report.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and his team have yet to provide any clear answers on these points. Furthermore, other teams in the pan-green camp — even those that have a reasonably “expert” understanding of the Chinese economy — have not yet offered consistent proposals about Taiwan’s overall economic and social development, and their economic and trade strategy for dealing with China and other countries.