Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Free lunches in China are pointless

Major General Zhu Chenghu (朱成虎) of China’s People’s Liberation Army recently criticised the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), saying that the party is a shadow of its former self. The KMT members who come to China to advocate the unification of Taiwan and China are simply “looking for a free lunch,” because this is not “mainstream opinion” in Taiwan, Zhu said.

Zhu is not a man to mince his words and his mocking of pro-unification groups, including the KMT, was merciless.

It is certainly true that those hangers-on who shuttle back and forth across the Taiwan Strait to sponge off Chinese largesse do not represent mainstream Taiwanese opinion. They sing from the same song sheet as Beijing and feel no allegiance whatsoever to Taiwan. All they are interested in is profiting from Taiwan’s problematic relationship with China.

Beijing must know that these freeloaders are unable to muster significant support for their cause. Yet it keeps extending invitations, so China’s leaders have clearly fallen for their fabrications, hook, line and sinker.

During Taiwan’s democratization, mainstream opinion broke free from the shackles of authoritarian rule and Taiwan eventually settled on a democratic government by, of and for the people.

Whether measured through opinion polls or elections, politics in Taiwan for the first time began to move along with public opinion rather than against it.

In democracies, politicians might be able to work against public opinion for a short period of time, but over the long-term they will be punished by the electorate, since democracies are largely transparent.

To secure the presidency, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) outwardly pandered to public opinion, but after eight years in government — during which he frequently rode roughshod over majority opinion — the KMT was unceremoniously turfed out of government by the Democratic Progressive Party.

What remains of Ma’s diminished party should serve as a lesson to those politicians who believe they can subvert public will. Taiwanese politics is based on the core principle that the public should be the master of its own affairs.

Whether one’s politics is tinged with blue, green, white or red, there is a shared belief among Taiwanese that no politician or political party should be allowed to use ideology to smother majority opinion.

The era when party dogma transcended popular will has well and truly been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Nevertheless, there remains a small minority who, despite having been roundly spurned by the electorate, are still unwilling to accept the majority decision of their compatriots. These political chameleons engage in the worst kind of opportunistic politics, then flee to Beijing to serve as “unification” turncoats.

The common denominator between these quislings and their Chinese hosts is that they are held in disdain by the majority of Taiwanese. Their “united front” public events and activities will unify no one but those who attend these events; this kind of self-absorbed navel-gazing has zero impact on the majority of Taiwanese.

Beijing’s embrace of those on Taiwan’s political margins will simply have the effect of further alienating the public from China. Taiwan’s pro-unification flunkies are well aware of this, but in search of a free lunch they act out their parts with as much verisimilitude as they can possibly muster.

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