Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

FAPA opposes Xi meeting

The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) — a Taiwanese-American grassroots organization based in Washington — wants to express its deep concern about the sudden announcement that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) are scheduled to meet in Singapore [today].

That the plans for the meeting were kept under wraps until the last minute is symptomatic of the undemocratic “black box” approach the Ma government has been following for years. The lack of transparency in governance was already evident when the Ma administration tried to push through the ill-fated service trade agreement in March last year and the changes in history textbooks earlier this year. In both cases, the matters led to large-scale protests.

The short notice for the meeting also flies in the face of the “no surprises” approach President Ma promised — in particular vis-a-vis the US — when conducting policy on cross-strait issues: His announcement on Nov. 7 that he would meet Xi in Singapore is a big surprise.

What are the main drivers prompting this move by Ma?

First, he is trying to salvage his legacy. As his standing in the polls is way down, he feels he needs to do something drastic to polish his image. He is generally considered a down-and-out, has-been politician. Very few people outside his own little circle believe in him anymore.

Second, he is trying to turn the tide in the Jan. 16 presidential election, where the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), with its presidential candidate, Eric Chu (朱立倫), is still way behind Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the opinion polls.

Chu’s manipulation of the ouster of the KMT’s previous candidate, Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), did not earn him much credit and his ratings have stayed at around the same level as Hung’s.

Third, he wants to pin Tsai down on the cross-strait issue and restrict her future options by agreeing with Xi that cross-strait “stability” cannot be guaranteed unless she embraces the so-called “1992 consensus.”

Many see the “1992 consensus” as a slippery slope toward unification. They want to keep all options open for the nation, and want Taiwanese to decide their future openly and freely.

In FAPA’s view, “peace and stability” is only artificial, as it is predicated on the fact that Ma has given China the impression that Taiwan is inexorably drifting in its direction. As is clear from opinion polls that is simply not the case: Taiwanese prefer democracy and freedom.

FAPA believes that:

First, the timing and the manner this meeting came about is not conducive to a balanced and responsible debate on future relations with China. With his approach, Ma is attempting to pre-empt a DPP government from exploring directions that would provide better guarantees for Taiwan’s future as a free and democratic nation.

Second, it is inappropriate for a lame-duck president to engage in such a meeting only two months before presidential and legislative elections. There is obviously no consensus in the nation on how to move forward on cross-strait relations and Ma does not have any mandate. On the contrary, his pro-China policies have been soundly rejected in both last year’s nine-in-one elections and in recent opinion polls.

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