EDITORIAL: WikiLeaks confirms what we knew

Fri, Sep 09, 2011 - Page 8

The furor over a large batch of Taiwan-related diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks recently dumped on the Internet drowns out one important point — we already knew most of this stuff.

Most China watchers already knew that the so-called “1992 consensus” was a farce and that it has been used by Beijing to push the “one China” principle. It is obvious that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was extraordinarily naive in thinking that their Chinese Communist Party counterparts would allow a system that tacitly recognized two Chinas. Anybody who watches Taiwanese politics knew that Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) were not bosom buddies, and that former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) was marginalized by Ma — not that Lien did not do a good enough job of that on his own.

Is it that big a surprise that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) has been going out of his way to help the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) build its colossal new headquarters in Neihu District (內湖) over the objections of residents? Didn’t the allegations of back-room dealings regarding the Xinsheng Overpass scandal and all the public money spent on the Taipei International Flora Expo already give people an idea as to what kind of a guy Hau is?

Even Joe Schmoe who picks up a newspaper once a month knows that the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was not all it was touted to be. That post-ECFA wave of free-trade agreements (FTA) never materialized, despite all the assurances of the Ma administration. It does not take a WikiLeaks cable quoting former AIT director Stephen Young saying that he doubts the ECFA would deliver on regional FTAs for us to know that the entire agreement was really just a way for China to get its claws deeper into Taiwan.

All these points are fairly obvious to those who follow the cross-strait situation, so the revelations are not all that surprising. What they are, however, is the first confirmation by the people in charge of what we have suspected all along.

After reading through these WikiLeaks cables, in which Chinese officials are quoted as openly saying that the so-called “1992 consensus” was a fabrication of former National Security Council secretary-general Su Chi (蘇起), how can Ma continue to defend the policy with a straight face? It is plain for anyone to see that Ma has just been using the consensus to cover up his opposition to Taiwanese independence, while China is using it to absorb as much of Taiwan as it can before Taiwanese officials come to their senses.

Ma’s tensions with the KMT old guard are well-known, but they have never been confirmed so explicitly. They have always been an open secret. Now, however, the cat is out of the bag. How can Ma continue to lead KMT officials loyal to Wang, Lien and former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄)? Ma’s complete lack of respect for People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) also bodes ill for the president. These cables lend weight to a possible decision by Soong to run against Ma. With such internal tensions laid bare, will the pan-blue camp be able to recover before the presidential election in January?

Ma constructed his entire cross-strait policy and party politics on a number of lies. Now that the truth is out, his house of cards is starting to fall apart.