When, after their weekend visit to Beijing, six Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and two independent local government heads suggested that Chinese tourists who want to tour Taiwan just visit the areas that they administer, since they support the so-called “1992 consensus,” other Taiwanese saw the clear hand of China’s bullying.
KMT hardliners no doubt attribute the drastic drop in the number of Chinese tourists to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, but the KMT could hurt its legitimacy in the eyes of the general public by siding with Beijing.
Members of Taiwan’s Paralympics team on Tuesday complained about being pressured by China into changing the badge on their uniforms because it depicted the “national emblem,” while yesterday it was revealed that Taiwanese officials were expelled from a meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries in July under pressure from China.
China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘), in an interview with Singapore’s Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao reiterated Beijing’s stance that without the “1992 consensus” that encompasses the idea of “one China,” Taiwan would have no recourse in cross-strait negotiations, which he linked to Taiwan’s participation in international activities.
The eight local government heads, who a DPP lawmaker collectively labeled the “eight blue slaves,” claimed their trip to Beijing was to advance cross-strait exchanges, and to bring economic benefits to their cities and counties.
Their trip is said to have been carefully planned by Beijing; true or not, the fact that the delegation upheld the banner of the “1992 consensus” made the eight complicit in helping Beijing bypass the public’s desire for a new path for cross-strait relations — one that would no longer rely on compradors or preconditions — which was one of the reasons the KMT was swept out of office in January’s elections.
If the “1992 consensus” were so important to Taiwan’s economy, as the delegation members said, the public would have felt it and gladly embraced it.
After all, grandiose ideas and beliefs cannot be dined on, which is what President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said during her campaign and why, since taking office, she has focused on internal structural transformations that could upgrade the economy and deliver a sound financial system and social security.
Good leaders recognize that the public needs economic security and a better standard of living before entertaining abstract thinking.
Taiwanese can plainly see that it is not that the DPP government is incompetent in handling cross-strait affairs, especially when the Tsai administration, in sticking to the middle-ground, has also been attacked by the deep-green camp, which accuses the administration of being too timid about asserting stances that it thinks a DPP president should defend.
DPP heads of local governments would also like cross-strait exchanges to flourish, but the point of the eight “kowtowing” to Beijing is not a wish for more exchanges, but their willingness to play into Beijing’s hands by agreeing there should be a political premise for such exchanges.
The KMT’s action is not unlike when Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland chairman Wang Ping-sheng (王屏生) last week insulted the Taiwanese public by calling it “sick” for not accepting the “1992 consensus” and the idea of “one China.” It was a self-righteous and arrogant remark made to a democracy.
The trip to Beijing has deepened Taiwanese doubt about the KMT’s resolve to uphold its, rather than Beijing’s, interpretation of the “1992 consensus.” KMT members backing of KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) proposal to keep the “1992 consensus,” but remove “one China, different interpretations” in the party’s platform is seen by many as moving one step closer to “one China, same interpretation.”
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