Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) had not been in Taiwan many days before the nation reverted to the old police state. Zhang may have talked about his respect for Taiwanese people’s choices, but wave after wave of protesters were forcefully blocked by police. Furthermore, most “members of the public” that Zhang met were people who share his point of view.
What did Zhang really get to see during his short visit? What he saw was at most the 9 percent who support President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Because he came to Taiwan for the sake of only 9 percent of the population, protesters were beaten by police and in an instant, Taiwan’s human rights index sank through the floor. One cannot help but wonder if Zhang’s visit did not cause even more Taiwanese to detest the confluence between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Why do Chinese officials come to Taiwan? It is self-evident: They are here because of China’s “united front” tactics.
The strange thing is that this so-called “united front” really should work with the majority, but it seems as if China is aiming at only 9 percent of the population, ignoring the possibility that it might arouse the majority’s dislike. The Ma administration is not well-liked in Taiwan. Its political performance is a complete mess and the CCP is the only thing that can save it. It is thus not very surprising that the Ma administration behaves like a doting younger brother as it places forceful emphasis on maintaining order and does all it can to give visiting Chinese officials a comfortable experience.
However, does the CCP never stop to think that since even important KMT officials are trying to distance themselves from Ma and KMT candidates avoid him like the plague, posing as Ma’s last friend could create an even stronger dislike among Taiwanese?
Perhaps the CCP believes that it can disregard public opinion and continue its cooperation with the KMT. We must remind China that Taiwan is a democracy and not another Hong Kong under China’s control. If the CCP rides roughshod over public opinion, there will be a backlash.
The Ma administration’s internal and external judicial purges are a sign that it is feeling the pressure of public opinion — and it is responding with an iron fist. We can only wait to see who will win this standoff between the masters of the nation and the children of the party state.
However, in Hong Kong, China’s decision to ignore public opinion, take full control over Hong Kong and delay universal suffrage resulted in about 800,000 people voting in an online referendum. In Taiwan, when China tries to join hands with a government that sees the public as its enemy, the result will be even more awkward.
Over the past week, civic organizations have protested against the lack of transparency in relations between the KMT and the CCP to safeguard the public’s position as the masters of the nation. If this is what happens when the Chinese TAO minister visits Taiwan, a division of tanks would probably be needed if a higher-ranking Chinese official were to visit.
The government’s attempts to use state violence to frighten the public would only allow the international community to see the precarious state of human rights in Taiwan even more clearly. Protesters legally registered at a hotel had the door to their room broken in, police have used violence in suppressing protesters, reporters were blocked from doing their job and gangsters were allowed to beat up protesters. People notice these things and one thing is for sure: It does not improve the happiness index rating.
On the contrary, the more the government suppresses public opinion, the stronger the counterreaction would be. Ma, with his 9 percent approval rating, probably thinks that his support cannot sink any further so he can do whatever he wants. This is a tragedy for our democracy.
Then again, faced with a KMT-CCP unity — a family of police and bandits — last week, we could all see that only civic groups and the Taiwan Solidarity Union stood on the front lines and spoke up for the public, while being beaten and detained by police. Compared with the police forces, they were few and weak.
As to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), almost no one, from the top leadership to the lowliest official, showed up at the protests. All they did was protest on Facebook, issue statements and call on people to protest. Is the party trying to display some kind of “goodwill” toward Zhang by remaining aloof in this way?
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) even said that when Zhang used New Taiwan (NT) dollars during his visit, he could see Republic of China (ROC) written all over the bills, so he could clearly see that the ROC really exists. Is Hsieh deliberately hiding his head in the sand? Will someone who is using NT dollars to try to buy the hearts and minds of Taiwanese really care about the ROC?
On Friday, Zhang visited Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊).
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) posted on Facebook that the visit was a move away from the narrow interaction between the KMT and the CCP, and an important first step toward a wider and deeper understanding across the Taiwan Strait. She also said that in the future, the DPP would have an open mind and engage in exchanges with Chinese officials, while faithfully expressing the views of the Taiwanese public.
As the CCP promotes the view that the future of Taiwan shall be decided by all Chinese, the DPP is still waiting for “exchanges with Chinese officials.” If we are waiting for the DPP’s “goodwill” to convince the CCP to engage in party-to-party exchanges, will the DPP still be able to “faithfully express the views of the Taiwanese public”? That sounds more like some other politicians who are out of step with the times and, moving closer and closer to the CCP, slip further and further away from public opinion.
If the DPP cares about public opinion, it should make Ma rein in his horses at the precipice, before he makes his final rush for the abyss.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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