Thu, Mar 12, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Moving the concensus goalposts

By Parris Chang 張旭成

Furthermore, a large-scale flight of Taiwanese capital and relocation of production facilities to China have caused economic stagnation, a high jobless rate and a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Consequently, there is massive popular discontent and resentment about Ma’s pro-China policies.

In the hope of attending the APEC summit in Beijing in November last year, and to stage a historic meeting with Xi, Ma tilted further toward China’s framework. To show his support for the “one China” framework, Ma in 2013 said that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland were regions of China and cross-strait relations were not international relations.

However, Ma’s maneuvers boomeranged. Not only did he fail to secure an invitation to Xi’s party, his pro-China policies were also repudiated by the voters in November last year. The prospect of the KMT being voted out of power and the DPP taking over the government next year looms large.

To his chagrin, Xi belatedly discovered the defects of his predecessor Hu’s strategy to “buy” Taiwan. The strategy was designed to recruit and cultivate Taiwanese business tycoons so as to use these enablers to forge ahead Taiwan’s peaceful unification.

However, the strategy has backfired badly, as most Taiwanese strongly resent these compradors, who are corrupt and have monopolized the bonuses of cross-strait economic engagement, and perceive them to be potential quislings to help Beijing annex Taiwan.

Xi and his colleagues may be too embarrassed to admit it, but they now realize that they have been poorly informed and misled by their cadres about the real situation in Taiwan.

Most of these cadres have neglected and ignored ordinary Taiwanese; instead they have been wined and dined by the rich and the powerful and, in the process, have become rich themselves. Beijing’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign should also investigate the cadres at the Taiwan Affairs Office.

It is imperative for Xi to liberate his thought and develop a new thinking; to reset Beijing’s policy on Taiwan.

The “1992 consensus” that Xi pitched to Taiwan’s pro-unifucation groups in September last year is shopworn and has no appeal to Taiwanese. The forefathers of Taiwanese were immigrants from China who left behind an old continent often ravaged by wars and oppression to seek a new and better life in this land. Their offspring have built an affluent nation — free, democratic and one which respects human rights.

In Taiwan, 60.6 percent of people identify themselves as Taiwanese, only 3.5 percent see themselves as Chinese and an overwhelming majority of the residents favor independence or the “status quo.”

Only a very small number of people aspire to living under China’s authoritarian rule. Most Singaporeans today are also the offspring of immigrants from China, and they have built a shining and prosperous independent nation, which is recognized by the Chinese.

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