The Chinese government’s mouthpieces demand that the agreement be accepted unchanged or not at all, while the official government organizations concerned with the agreement take a softer approach in order to weaken resistance.
This type of approach makes it clear that the agreement brings more advantages than disadvantages to China and that Beijing therefore needs it to be ratified. The TAO’s statement that the problem lies within Taiwan is a strong hint of dissatisfaction and frustration with Ma.
One party says that Taiwan should decide on the trade agreement and expresses hope that Ma will open up dialogue and handle the issue peacefully and civilly rather than use violence against unarmed protesters.
The other party has made it clear that it will not accept any “interference” with the agreement, which of course means that they do not want the agreement to be withdrawn or renegotiated, and that they want it passed and the issue settled once and for all.
These two forces swaying Ma are the reason that one day he said that he would meet with the students, and the next argued that there was no lack of transparency in the handling of the agreement. These conflicting actions make it clear that he does not know how to cope with the predicament he finds himself in. Overall, it is clear that China has more pull on Ma than the US.
The legislature is in pandemonium because Ma has forced the public to protest against the trade agreement. Now that the conditions for forcing through the agreement no longer exist, the issue should be resolved by the legislature, but since the lines of communication between the KMT and the opposition parties have been severed, that will take a long time.
Furthermore, as of Wednesday last week, the KMT Central Standing Committee still ignored the students’ demands — based on false information, which only served to extend the dispute and delay the legislature’s return to normal.
China may want the service trade agreement to be passed through the Taiwanese legislature without a single change, but it has now found that it has been relying on the wrong person to carry through that wish.
At this crucial moment in time, the question of whether Taiwan and China will go through with far reaching economic integration has created a vast gulf between generations. This long-standing point of contention has now erupted and can no longer be contained.
It has even attracted international attention, with both the US and China feeling that they must get involved. These developments show that communities are globally connected, and this will not change just because little Taiwan does or does not obtain international recognition.
Business Week magazine recently compared Ma with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, saying that both of are closely linked to a powerful neighbor.
This may be the Western point of view, but it would be more appropriate to say that the Ma administration is beleaguered on all sides.
This is why, as a member of the global community, Taiwan must safeguard its public’s right to be master of their own nation and guarantee that its people are not stripped of freedom of expression.