Tue, Mar 10, 2015 - Page 8 News List

China’s gathering political storm

By Eric Chiou 邱奕宏

Since the Taipei mayoral election in November last year, the spotlight of Taiwan’s news media has been frantically searching out two prime targets: Newly elected Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), and the alleged secret recipe of his election victory, “Internet troops” (網軍).

Despite these intriguing phenomena drawing widespread attention, it is abnormal and ridiculous that the focus of a whole nation’s media disproportionately concentrates on a local mayor in a transient frenzy. This parochial and short-sighted perspective has somewhat misled people about what is crucial — eclipsing truly exigent issues for Taiwan.

In contrast with the majority of people bewildered by dazzling limelight, prudent and sagacious political leaders can always look through to the essence of the reality, foresee future risks and opportunities and build an advantageous environment for their upcoming success.

In a similar vein, prospective leaders with ambition to lead the country should contemplate and design a comprehensive set of strategies for the nation’s future development in the context of fast-changing global geopolitics.

Facing an increasingly confident neighbor, Taiwan cannot afford to be governed in a political vacuum. Regrettably, since its landslide loss in last year’s nine-in-one elections, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has fallen into a state of despair and is unable to rally its troops.

In a democracy, ruling and opposition parties have equal opportunities to be regularly voted into or out of power. As a political party in a democratic state, fractious infighting over policy is normal and tolerable. However, governing a country without a clear direction is dangerous and inexcusable.

However, this seems to be the case for Taiwan today. The staggering lack of popular support for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has left few positive expectations for its remaining term. One year from now, Taiwan is likely to experience another transfer of power.

Externally, political and strategic struggles among countries in the Asia-Pacific region will intensify. As a nation whose history has been heavily engraved by strong external powers, any distractions or miscalculations would jeopardize Taiwan’s national interests and further undermine its strategic position on the map of global politics.

While most Taiwanese are beguiled by never-ending domestic political drama, the political climate outside of Taiwan is changing fast. As sure as the recent dust storms from northern China which hit Taiwan, gathering storms of power politics are set to impact the nation. Political weather in Taipei hinges on a complex convergence of low and high pressures from Washington and Beijing.

The rise in civil movements and a possible change in leadership in next year’s elections might prove to be something of a bellwether, but any significant changes in the political weather of Taiwan are sure to be closely tracked by Beijing.

Only last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) publicly emphasized the importance of insisting on the so-called “one China” principle as a cornerstone of long-lasting peace in cross-strait relations. This remark has been broadly perceived as a warning to the Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), and her pro-independence political stance.

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