Time for the Taiwanese to wake up

By Huang Tien-lin 黃天麟  / 

Wed, Jan 25, 2006 - Page 8

Taiwan is under a spell, and it is following the wizard's instructions and voluntarily walking to the execution ground. A tragedy is about to be played out where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will take over Taiwan.

This is no abstract prediction of Taiwan's demise, but a composite of reality and a few reasonable inferences. I hope that this article will serve as a wake-up call. The goal is to make sure that the scenario described above will never happen.

Is this sensationalism? Definitely not. Read the omens described in the following paragraphs, which are all the result of the "Go West" policy.

First, China has already deployed more than 800 missiles along its Taiwan Strait coastline, and the People's Liberation Army is sparing no effort in its preparations for an invasion of Taiwan. In spite of this, Taiwanese businesses are pouring a never-ending stream of capital and technology into China, thus strengthening the Chinese economy.

Last year, China's trade surplus reached US$101.9 billion. This sum included US$1 billion of high tech products exported by foreign-invested companies in China, and Taiwanese businesses were responsible for more than 50 percent of that. Total Taiwanese investment in China has reached an alarming US$280 billion. But strangely, there are still people in Taiwan clamoring to "go West" and criticizing the government for trying to put the brakes on.

Second, China has built simulated Taiwanese airports in Gansu Province and the northeast of Hainan Province where they have models of F-16 fighters. There, the Chinese army holds day and night exercises simulating an invasion of Taiwan.

In spite this, there are still people in Taiwan opposed to the arms procurement bill and who have blocked the procurement budget a total of 45 times. Their purpose is to weaken Taiwan and leave the door open for China. The problem is that the Taiwanese public does not show the slightest bit of interest in this situation and their only concern are business opportunities. It is easy to see that Taiwan is spellbound.

Third, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) not long ago declared that unification is the party's goal, and on Jan. 11 he opposed the inclusion of Taiwan within the scope of the US-Japan Security Treaty. Rejecting the arms purchase on the one hand and the US and Japan on the other is nothing short of surrender. But paralyzed by the spell, the Taiwanese public didn't even notice.

Fourth, in the wake of manufacturing moving to China, Taiwanese businesspeople fear China's power, and Taiwanese media outlets are no longer supported by industrial advertising. As a result, their numbers are dwindling as they fold, one after the other, opening the way for investment from China.

The government, however, sticks to the principle of press freedom and lets them disappear through its laissez-faire approach. The result is that local voices are too weak to stir the public and break the spell. There is no more fairness in the media.

Fifth, following educational reform, schools are becoming more and more dependent on industry. Out of self interest, "Go West" has become central to economic thinking in Taiwan, and direct links have become an unassailable necessity.

Apart from saying that "it is not a panacea," no one in the government dares explain the dangers of direct links and how they will further undermine Taiwan's situation.

Six, the government is like the central nervous system of a person, and the "active opening" anaesthesia has numbed the whole executive framework, making it unable to resist China's "united front."

And so one sees former KMT chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) talk of joining hands with the CCP to suppress Taiwanese independence, the pan-blue camp's obstruction and the exaggerations of the pro-China media.

Less than 20 percent of DPP members voted in the recent chairmanship election, a fact that worries its friends and pleases its enemies. This implies that pan-green supporters have already given up hope, and that Taiwan is lying on the chopping block waiting for the executioner to strike.

Fortunately, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) woke up on Jan. 1 when he warned the people of Taiwan in his New Year's address that they should pull out of China and turn toward the international community, and that "active management" is the only way to avoid a calamity. The agreement to negotiate but not hold a vote on the direct links issue until May, which the KMT and the PFP pushed so hard is about to expire.

If the government remains weak and impotent, the "domestic" routes for two-way direct flights promoted by Ma are certain to be realized.

Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) Taiwan-Minnan economic zone will be rapidly established, and it is certain to be followed by capital outflow, shrinking prosperity, unemployment and bad loans, while the "1992 consensus," "one China on both sides of the Taiwan Straits" and "one country, two systems" will become the reality.

The president is awake, and the government should also wake up. Let us also hope that the people who love Taiwan will wake up to see through the KMT and the CCP's plot to use businesspeople to force the hand of the government, and employ economic means to promote unification.

Huang Tien-lin is a national policy adviser to the president.

Translated by Perry Svensson