Editorial: Bashing Beijing at the ballot box

Sat, Nov 24, 2001 - Page 8

Two months ago this newspaper warned about China's secret assistance to Taiwan's opposition parties in the Dec. 1 elections -- a story the world heard about in a CNN report on Wednesday. The CNN report pointed out that during closed-door meetings with important KMT personnel, China's officials promised to give the KMT support to ensure the DPP loses the elections -- by reducing the number of seats held by the DPP in the Legislative Yuan.

Even though Taiwan's biggest opposition party has strongly denied the veracity of the CNN report, there are good reasons to believe it is close to the truth. The party's conduct since it lost last year's presidential election has made it appear to be a puppet dancing to China's manipulations to disrupt Taiwan's political stability.

For example, in autumn last year the KMT and other opposition parties abused their legislative majority in an attempt to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The attempted power grab was a clear sign that the opposition placed party interests above national interest and that they were willing to pander to Beijing. Their action almost resulted in political chaos.

China has made repeated attempts to interfere whenever Taiwan has held elections. China's missile tests in March 1996 and subsequent military practices during Taiwan's elections clearly demonstrate the degree to which it is willing to go to meddle. Thankfully, however, each time Beijing has tried large-scale intimidation tactics, its plans have backfired by triggering widespread among the voters of Taiwan. Parties and candidates whom China strongly disapproved of won with landslides victories, such as former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in 1996 and Chen last year.

The only way Taiwan can survive living next to such a bully is to firmly stand its ground. In each election the people of Taiwan must continue to tell China, through their votes, that they do not welcome any political interference from the other side of the Strait.

Some people, of course, do vote for pro-Beijing politicians, but they are not representative of the general public and have no chance of becoming a majority. So Beijing is just wasting its money by supporting political dinosaurs who don't seem to realize they are close to extinction. While localized parties which advocate a "Taiwan first" ideology have not yet become a stable legislative majority, they will, given time. It is even possible that this goal of many Taiwanese will become a reality after next week's legislative elections.

This newspaper has said before and will continue to press home the message that the voters of Taiwan must use every opportunity they have to tell Beijing loud and clear that no matter how much money China spends, no matter how much aid it might give opposition parties to help them buy TV and newspaper ads, or how many military exercises it stages, the people of Taiwan should and will continue to say "no" to Beijing.

By choosing candidates who truly advocate the "Taiwan first" ideology, voters will be ensuring that they and their descendents will enjoy the right to vote and to live in a democratic nation.