President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been in office for nearly two years. Her government has introduced numerous reforms, including amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞基法) and reforms to the pension system. Newly enacted laws include the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) and the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例).
The Tsai administration has turned the economy around from the negative growth that prevailed under former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). The growth rate has climbed month by month, reaching year-on-year growth of 3.04 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Under normal circumstances, this would be called a laudable performance, but Tsai’s opinion poll ratings are still rather low.
To put it simply, this is because of distorted public perceptions resulting from “democratic disorder.” Why is democracy in disorder?
There are two main reasons:
The first is that those in government lack the courage to introduce, enact and enforce legislation related to China.
The second is infiltration by China’s subversive “united front” strategy. These two interrelated factors are allowing China to push Taiwan toward an ungovernable state.
Some current affairs prove that this is happening.
The first is Kuan Chung-ming’s (管中閔) selection as National Taiwan University (NTU) president, which the Ministry of Education has refused to approve, citing a conflict of interest on Kuan’s part.
If the government had a comprehensive system for reporting on interactions that designated categories of citizens, such as professors, researchers and students, have with China — similar to the US’ personnel security clearance system — then Kuan’s enthusiasm for China would have been known from the start and he would not even have been a candidate.
For more than a decade now, the “Republic of China” government has been soft on China, and this has opened up “ungoverned territory” in which China can create problems.
Only now that such problems are coming to light has the government realized how many officials have intimate relations with China.
These dealings are so complicated that they can only be described as a mess, and they all involve questions of legality and national security.
Kuan’s case is a typical example of how the government’s failure to introduce legislation is leading to social disorder. The background to all this is China’s “united front” strategy and infiltration.
The same is true in the economic sphere, where the most obvious factors are as follows:
First, there is a lack of management of Chinese investment, about which there are no accurate statistics, nor any effort to collect them.
Second, there is no management of the “Chinese content” in listed companies, such as China’s share in their total revenue and aggregate earnings.
Third, there are no data on the number of Taiwanese managers and their family members who are permanent residents in China.
Without any data, the government cannot grasp the true situation, so how can it hope to manage it?
The China-related parts of Taiwan’s economy have become the economy’s “ungoverned territory.” Despite Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) strenuous efforts, China’s magnetic attraction makes it difficult to achieve a perceptible improvement in Taiwan’s economy.
The lack of a comprehensive law to protect Taiwan’s intellectual property in the sciences and technology is another contributing factor.
The second ongoing affair is the petitions and protests held by retired police officers. The “police and firefighters’ disobedience” protest organized by the umbrella organization of retired police officers’ associations and other groups on Tuesday last week ended up charging into the Control Yuan compound and attacking reporters.
From the presence of people with their faces covered and the kind of clothes the instigators were wearing, it is possible to deduce what kind of forces were behind the incident.
Over the past two years, there have been almost daily protests against pension reforms, changes to the Labor Standards Act, air pollution, immigration and imports of supposedly irradiated food from Japan. These unending protests are distorting social values, and, with encouragement from China-friendly media, they are gradually eroding the nation’s “governability.”
The problem is that Taiwan, despite facing China’s overt and covert “united front” strategy and infiltration, still has no “anti-united front” or “anti-infiltration” legislation that could be used to deter China’s encroachment. As a result, there is a growing threat of the entire nation becoming “ungovernable territory.”
If the government goes on dithering and does not act quickly to draw up a comprehensive system of national security laws in response to China’s “united front” strategy and infiltration, it will allow China’s fifth column to spread rapidly, and that will put Taiwan in great peril.
Huang Tien-lin is a national policy adviser and former managing director and chairman of First Commercial Bank.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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