Taiwan must stand up for itself

By Ing-wen Tsai 蔡英文  / 

Thu, Nov 06, 2008 - Page 8

I urge the public to remember Nov. 3, 2008. On this day, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) once again pushed Taiwan significantly closer toward China.

In order to promote the visit of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mobilized all their resources and approaches. Suddenly, all voices of opposition vanished from our nation to create the illusion that everyone was looking forward to Chen’s visit. This was not the case. At a time when our government is trying to suppress public opinion with little regard for the feelings of our people while doing everything it can to please China, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must stand out as Taiwan’s major opposition party and make its position clear.

The DPP does not welcome Chen’s visit at this point in time for the following reasons:

First, Chen did not have to come to Taiwan. We have never opposed the idea that Taiwan should conduct talks with China on technical issues. But given the current political climate, social unrest could have been avoided if the government had conducted the talks at a third location. The reason the KMT insisted on inviting Chen to visit Taiwan was simply to shift attention from its falling approval ratings with a vainglorious “cross-strait reconciliation” ceremony.

Second, we oppose the superficial “ceremonial rule of the country” and demand that the Ma administration clearly explain what substantial economic benefits the talks will bring to the people of Taiwan. We demand to know how much the accelerated cross-strait exchanges will impact on our industries and labor market. We also demand to know whether the government has any measures in place to deal with the industries who may lose business and the workers who may lose their jobs as a result of these talks.

Since May 20, our government has repeatedly fooled the public and we cannot allow this to continue.

Following talks between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Chen in Beijing in June, our economy remained slow. While cross-strait tensions may have been alleviated, unemployment and bankruptcies have risen. The government has never stopped to examine its actions and has instead tried to further link Taiwan’s economy to China’s. This strategy is very risky and its benefits are limited.

After the talks in Taipei, Taiwan will have moved a huge step closer to the “one China” market. At this important historical juncture, we must tell those in power that they are wrong, and that our country’s economy cannot be managed this way. If the government continues on this path, Taiwan’s economy will become irreversibly dependent on China, which will turn the country into a second Hong Kong. If this were to happen, one might wonder if Taiwan would have any sovereignty left at all. What other choice will the Taiwanese have than to accept unification?

Third, there is not a single nation in the world that would proudly announce it has given up its sovereignty. Unfortunately, the Ma government has done just that. The nation’s flags that hung in the Grand Hotel were taken down for Chen’s visit. Taiwan is our country and if the talks were based on dignity, why did the flags have to go before the Chinese delegation arrived?

The Ma administration is allowing our nation to be humiliated. Ma has been president for almost half a year and may still not know what sovereignty or making concessions means. The DPP would like to tell Ma that hiding our flag is tantamount to hiding the nation and is a concession in terms of our national sovereignty.

Ma has not just made small concessions; his concessions will erase the democratic progress the DPP worked on for more than 10 years to create.

Senior national security officials racked their brains over how Ma would be addressed by the Chinese delegation and tried to be very “creative.” The DPP, however, believes that a presidency has more to do with “dignity” than “creativity.” We do not need creativity. A president is what is needed — just a president.

We urge Ma to request that Chen address him as “president” during his visit. Ma should also clearly express to Chen the political opinions he proposed during his presidential campaign when he stated: “The future of Taiwan must be decided by its 23 million people.”

This is the only way these talks can be beneficial to Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Fourth, China is ripping Taiwan apart, which was made very clear from the arrangements for Chen’s visit. The DPP was deliberately omitted from the entire visit. The KMT is the only political party in the world that would align itself with a hostile foreign party to damage its domestic rivals. While this situation is not new, it has to stop immediately. If not, Taiwan will become embroiled in everlasting division and opposition.

Chen’s visit to Taiwan is not the KMT’s and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) private business. Chen’s visit is of concern to the entire country. We appeal to the government to immediately abolish the KMT-CCP platform and ensure that all agreements made between SEF and ARATS are monitored through the legislature and public opinion.

There was never a war across the Taiwan Strait during the eight years the DPP was in power. The DPP proved to the world that as long as our government has wisdom and determination, Taiwan’s sovereignty could be protected while developing cross-strait trade and avoiding war with China. However, the method employed by the Ma administration to develop trade and avoid war with China is to make endless concessions in terms of our national sovereignty.

I hereby request that the people of Taiwan think hard about what we have really gained from all of Ma’s appeasement. Are two pandas really all we have to show as a nation after all the trouble the Ma administration has gone to?

Beloved Taiwanese, as of Nov. 3, let us make Taipei City into the true essence of “Taiwan.” Our government has forgone our dignity and sovereignty, so let us take action to uphold these values. This is all we can do and this is a responsibility that we all share.

We must use peaceful, rational, resolute, non-violent methods to uphold and protect everything that we now possess.

I would especially like to make it clear to all the members of the DPP that you cannot resort to violence, regardless of the time or situation. Democracy is the DPP’s only weapon and peace is the only method we can utilize. This is my only request and my only order.

Ing-wen Tsai is the Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party.