Sat, Jan 17, 2015 - Page 8 News List

US must not meddle in 2016 polls

By Lee Shyu-tu 李學圖

Her comment shows some frustration and distrust toward a once respected and trusted old friend.

Is gaining the friendship, respect and trust from a strategically important nation such as Taiwan a national interest to the US?

Since the second half of his first term, Ma has been perceived by most Taiwanese as an incapable president without a heart for the nation he serves. However, although knowing Ma was unfit for the presidency, Taiwanese, lacking the confidence to resist external influence, still re-elected him in 2012.

Since he was re-elected, Ma has been ruthlessly trying to sell Taiwan to China under the table in the name of increasing cultural exchange and economic cooperation. He ignores the constitutional principle of a checks-and-balances system by trying to influence the legislature and manipulate the legal system.

His Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) fueled an outflow of capital, technology and industries from Taiwan, resulting in the loss of employment and greater disparities in income. He further attempted to pass the cross-strait service trade agreement without legislative review: If passed, the pact would bring the lives of the next generation of Taiwanese under greater Chinese control.

Fortunately it was stopped by the Sunflower movement’s almost-23-day protest, which began on March 18 last year.

On Dec. 18 last year, radio host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) alleged that Ma had received a NT$200 million (US$6.34 million) donation from Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團), which has received favorable treatment by regulatory agencies, including securing a 37.5 percent share of Taipei 101.

Now that three weeks have passed and more accusations have erupted, Ma has not yet made an explicit denial of receiving a bribe. If Chou’s accusation is true, many wonder whether there was a conspiracy by Ma to help Ting Hsin, which has connections with Chinese bureaucrats, to acquire important enterprises critical to Taiwan’s survival, to later sell to Chinese, making it easier for Beijing to penetrate the Taiwanese economy. There is so far no way to know how much damage has been done to Taiwan.

China has a strategy to use soft power to eliminate the “identity” and “national consciousness” of Taiwan by “penetrating the island, penetrating the household, and penetrating the brain.” How much of the penetration has been done in the name of cultural exchange and economic cooperation? If Taiwan is being seriously infiltrated by China, is this not a threat to the US’ national interest?

Was the possibility that Ma would allow and help Chinese penetration of Taiwan expected when a senior While House officer and a former AIT director warned Taiwanese not to vote for Tsai? If not, then the strategy should not be applied again, as it involved unknown variables. Thus, the US should not try to interfere with Taiwanese before next year’s election.

There is a better way to protect US national interests: Do nothing before the election, then conduct dialogue with Taiwan’s next elected leader, whoever that is. Thus, if the DPP’s candidate loses, the US can save the effort; if the DPP candidate wins, that person must understand their responsibility to maintain regional stability.

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