Refusing to vote is not a solution

By Cao Changching ???  / 

Mon, Nov 21, 2005 - Page 8

During a recent trip to Taiwan, I found that many pan-green supporters are exasperated by President Chen Shui-bian's (³¯¤ô«ó) pledge not to write a new constitution and change the national title during his term in office.

As a result, they may choose not to cast their ballots in the upcoming local government elections, to punish the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and force it to push ahead with reform.

That these pan-green supporters have such a love-hate attitude toward the DPP is understandable. It is also perfectly justifiable for them to criticize the governing party and Chen.

However, refusing to vote in the elections will only prove counter-productive, and bring about serious consequences.

First, if the pan-blues secure a landslide victory in the upcoming elections, they will become more hawkish. The pan-blues believe that they emerged a big winner in the previous legislative elections simply because they were not the big losers.

Since then, the nation's political climate has become even more complicated, with former Chinese Nationalist Party chairman Lien Chan (³s¾Ô) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (?º·¡·ì) making their first-ever visits to China.

Therefore, if the pan-blues do well in the elections, they will begin to believe that the nation has wearied of localization, which will boost their momentum.

Early next year, pan-blue legislators will force the passage of their cross-strait peace advancement bill.

This bill is tantamount to legitimizing Beijing's "one China" policy.

Once the whole world believes that "one China" refers to the one ruled by the People's Republic of China, then the Republic of China will have been sold out and Taiwan will disintegrate as a separate entity.

Second, if the pan-blues win the upcoming elections, the Chinese leadership will become as cocky as the pan-blues. Beijing will believe that its strategy of isolating Taiwan diplomatically is still feasible, and that allying with the pan-blue camp to attack the island's localization forces has been successful.

As a result, it will strengthen its "united front" strategy against Taiwan.

Third, if the pan-blues vanquish the pan-greens in the upcoming elections, the US' attitude toward Taiwan is going to change. Over the past few years, many in the US have called on Washington to re-assess its China policy. If the green camp loses this time, the US is going to take another look at the political climate in Taiwan, especially the strength of the pan-green forces. This will certainly affect the US' perception of Taiwan's efforts toward localization.

Sino-US relations have been at a low recently, with Chinese President Hu Jintao (­JÀAÀÜ) getting the cold shoulder when he visited the US in September. This week, US President George W. Bush has traveled to Beijing. However, his visit to China comes after stops in South Korea and Japan.

Interestingly, the US government pointed out that Bush's trip to China is a working visit rather than a state visit, indicating that bilateral relations between these two superpowers are lukewarm at present.

Not long ago, the US agreed that former President Lee Teng-hui (?õµn½?) could visit Washington and deliver a speech to Congress.

This implied an effort by the US to counterbalance China's aggression and "united front" strategy against Taiwan. However, if the pan-blues win a landslide victory next month, then this policy will come to a halt.

Fourth, if the pan-green camp loses next month, it will be seen as being on a losing streak. If this happens, the green camp will become so dejected that it may even lose the next legislative and presidential elections.

Some believe that pan-green supporters can be galvanized into action only when the DPP suffers a major electoral defeat. However, the pan-greens were grouchy and low in spirits after the results of the last legislative elections were released, and not much changed.

The DPP not only failed to seek to reform itself after the loss, it arranged a tete-a-tete between Chen and Soong. Lien's and Soong's brazen visits to China are directly related to the governing party's wishy-washy attitude.

Will pan-green supporters be able to turn the tables if they choose not to cast their ballots this time? I believe it will only make the situation worse.

Although the DPP has been in power for five years, it does not have much experience managing a nation.

By contrast, the KMT was in power for more than 50 years and had a monopoly on all the talent and resources.

But despite all of its failings, the DPP will never sell out Taiwan to China.

When Lien was traveling in China, he even said the KMT would ally itself with the CCP and make use of the cross-strait peace advancement bill to "promote" cross-strait exchanges.

At this crucial moment for Taiwan, I hope the Taiwanese can come to their senses and make a wise decision.

Cao Changching is a writer based in the US.

Translated by Daniel Cheng