Wed, Aug 10, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Wang is a good choice to be SEF chairman

By James Wang 王景弘

If Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), the former legislative speaker, takes over as chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), he will not be the blank slate that foundation Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) has been.

Wang does not brag about his accomplishments, but the private talks that he held with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt eight years ago are a good measure of Wang’s suitability for the position.

Lin was former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) errand boy, and he handled some trivial issues of a technical nature.

He was a blank slate that Ma could fill with anything he wanted, and he never did anything that was not in line with Ma’s wishes, nor would there ever be any traces of concern for Taiwan or Taiwan’s interests.

Wang plays in another league altogether. The frequency with which he used to hold conversations and meetings with officials at the AIT gives just a little glimpse of his stature.

His comments have always been spot-on, he understands public opinion and has never been led by the nose by Ma or the KMT.

At the time of the Sunflower movement in 2014, Wang took a sympathetic attitude toward the students and their demands, which should not have been a surprise to anyone.

On March 16, 2009, he told Burghardt that former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had appointed him to hold talks with China on the three direct links, financial management and investment and student exchanges.

According to Wang, the talks were concluded, but because Beijing was unwilling to allow the Chen administration to claim any kind of credit for rapprochement and the KMT was worried about Chen being allowed to do so for fear it would have had a negative impact on Ma’s presidential aspirations, the agreements were never signed.

Wang is of the opinion that it was the talks that he concluded with China that allowed the Ma administration to reach agreements with Beijing on these issues and to sign agreements so soon after Ma took office.

Wang complained that the Ma administration would not allow these agreements to go to the legislature for review, which resulted in the public feeling that it had no say in the matter.

This was also why Wang insisted on the necessity of submitting the cross-strait service trade agreement to the legislature for review.

Of course, Ma paid no attention to what Wang said, which he felt was grating on the ear. His only concern was to give Beijing a quick answer, and he was worried that the legislature would create problems and slow things down.

This was why the KMT tried to ram the service trade agreement through the legislature.

However, when then-KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) took just 30 seconds to announce that the pact had cleared committee review, it was the spark that ignited the Sunflower student protests.

In a conversation on Feb. 18, 2009, Wang told then-AIT director Stephen Young that no one in the Chinese leadership would dare change the “one China” or the unification goal.

He therefore suggested that Ma should approach his administration’s cross-strait policy proposals by answering three questions: Will they harm Taiwan’s sovereignty, security or the interests of all Taiwanese?

If Wang gets lucky in his old age and is appointed chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, hopefully he will remember these three questions.

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