Thu, Nov 30, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Keeping an ineffectual ‘status quo’ is useless

By Chang Kuo-tsai 張國財

During last year’s presidential campaign, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), whether speaking to a domestic audience or in Washington to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discussed “maintaining the ‘status quo.’”

Now that she is president, Tsai continues to talk of this “status quo” and the importance of maintaining it.

Passively accepting such talk is all well and good, but the phrase is meaningless. If it is to have substance, it is important to first explore the nature of that “status quo” and whether it should be maintained.

For example, think of a company that is technologically ahead of the competition and whose performance continues to improve. It is reasonable for that company to talk of wanting to maintain the “status quo,” for it stands to benefit from doing so.

However, a company that is performing worse by the day and is building up losses would be mad to consider maintaining the “status quo” a desirable objective.

During last year’s US presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump saw what he believed to be the downward trend of his nation’s place in the world. He did not call for maintaining the “status quo,” but instead called for its improvement with the slogan “make America great again.”

As the election results testify, the US electorate agreed with him. “Make America great again,” they said. Note the last two words — they were not shouting: “Keep America as it is.”

To the domestic audience, Taiwan’s “status quo” means corporate interests growing stronger by the day, while people with low salaries have to put up with earning a paltry NT$22,000 per month. Is that the “status quo” that is worth maintaining?

What about the “status quo” of young couples who do not dare enter into marriage, and if they do get married, they do not dare have children?

What about the “status quo” of more than 80 percent of Taiwanese having no faith in the judiciary, or of people flying the national flag of the People’s Republic of China on the streets of Taipei?

What about the “status quo” in which it is difficult to tell where the criminal world ends and the political world begins, or in which military contract scandals hit the headlines thick and fast? Are these representative of the “status quo” that Taiwanese should seek to maintain?

For Tsai’s audience overseas, perhaps the optics of retired generals going to China to attend events speaks of the “status quo” Taiwanese should try to maintain, or the reports of military officers — retired and serving — selling military secrets to China.

Then there are Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, the number of which has fallen from 22 to 20 in the short time since Tsai took office. Is this maintaining the diplomatic “status quo”?

It sure looks like the “status quo” has been altered by outside forces. What good does a “status quo” in which the nation is denied entry to international organizations do for Taiwan, or a “status quo” in which Taiwan is forced to participate in international summits or sporting events under the name “Chinese Taipei,” or in which Taiwan must take part in the WTO under the name “the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu”?

Is the current trajectory of “maintaining the ‘status quo’” going to lead to bigger and better things, or is it going to lead down a dead end, and if the “status quo” is going to be changed, will people stand with Taiwan, whatever the repercussions?

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