Wed, Jan 22, 2020 - Page 8 News List

Impending doom not averted by Tsai’s win

By Wu Cheng-yin 吳政穎

Many international media outlets have interpreted President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) re-election as meaning that an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese voters have said “no” to China. However, does this mean that the “sense of the nation’s impending doom” will now disappear?

Starting in 2018, Taiwan was swept by a wave of support for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politician Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who was voted in as mayor of Kaohsiung and then challenged Tsai as the KMT’s presidential candidate. Behind the “Han wave” lies a serious problem of infiltration by China.

At the end of last year, Chinese citizen William Wang Liqiang (王立強) applied for political asylum in Australia, saying that he had been an undercover agent for China in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Wang affair made it possible for the Legislative Yuan to pass the Anti-infiltration Act (反滲透法), which went into effect on Wednesday last week.

However, the act only allows for punishment, not deterrence, and punishment alone cannot mend the harm done to democracy by rumors, slander, and the spread of fear and hatred.

The act lags far behind measures already taken by Western countries, such as the US and Australia, to counter infiltration by China. Taiwan’s defenses against the emerging threats of information warfare and hybrid warfare are also inadequate.

“Sunshine laws” concerning things like the declaration of assets of elected officials and public servants, as well as the registration of foreign agents, can further contribute to resisting communist China’s “united front” policies.

Building such defenses to protect the nation’s democracy should be an important and urgent item on the legislative agenda.

However, the incoming legislature might not be able to effectively deal with the problem of Chinese infiltration. That retired lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), who is a typical “red unificationist,” is about to enter the Legislative Yuan as one of the KMT’s legislators-at-large signals that the Democratic Progressive Party will face stronger legislative challenges from the KMT.

In addition, if the total number of party votes won by the KMT, the New Party and other pan-blue parties is subtracted from the 5.52 million votes Han won, the size of the difference shows that some swing voters have still not realized how serious the problem of Chinese infiltration really is.

It also suggests that “third force” parties that say “blue and green are equally bad” might play a disruptive role in the new legislature. Considering how hard it was to get the act through the last legislature, it will be even harder to enact further anti-China laws in the new one.

The act puts Taiwan on a firmer footing, but the sense of impending national doom is still there. The Tsai administration should continue responding to the public’s expectations. With the backing of 8.17 million votes in the presidential election, her government should firmly tackle China’s “united front” infiltration.

Taiwanese should not misread the election result as meaning that the sense of doom has disappeared. On the contrary, they must have a grasp of Taiwan’s problems, and explain them to friends and family who are not yet aware of China’s “united front” strategy.

Finally, Taiwanese must urge lawmakers and their parties to finish building the necessary defenses. Over the next four years, Taiwanese must go from passive to active and sweep away anything that acts as a breeding ground for the sense of national doom.

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