Three key issues that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is pushing at the moment — holding a national affairs conference, opposing cross-media monopolies and organizing its China Affairs Committee — are all based on the same core values, namely the survival of Taiwan and its democratic system.
There is a widespread fear that Taiwan is being sold out, in part a result of the nation’s history of being ruled or manipulated by foreign powers. It also stems from the attitude prevalent among supporters of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that its sojourn on Taiwan is only temporary. When Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) stepped down from his post as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a few days ago, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) sent him a telegram saying: “Looking forward to the future, the great task of bringing about a renaissance of the Chinese nation will continue to be accomplished.”
Perhaps Ma would like to explain what the “renaissance of the Chinese nation” has to do with Taiwan. Whenever he is accused of selling out Taiwan, his glib response is that he only wants to sell Taiwanese fruit, not Taiwan itself. However, the reality is that Ma’s Chinese mentality is causing Taiwan’s sovereignty to be eroded, and bringing our democratic system to the verge of collapse.
China’s strategy for bringing about unification with Taiwan has moved on from verbal and military threats to a new stage of buying up Taiwan. Senior KMT figures and the sons and daughters of party and government officials are filling their pockets in cahoots with their Chinese counterparts, the so-called “princelings,” but Ma is indifferent to their profiteering. He is allowing this kind of practice to run rampant, and even using it to fight his opponents.
When government power changes hands again, the account will have to be settled for the way Taiwan has been sold out while Ma and the KMT have been in charge.
Ma keeps dodging the DPP’s proposal to hold a national affairs conference. Could this be because Taiwan’s economy and finances are riddled with problems, and if this shambles were to be thoroughly reviewed in an open forum it would reveal the extent to which “red” and “blue” capitalists — those connected with the CCP and KMT — have been stripping Taiwan’s assets? Could it be because it would highlight the way in which the cross-strait Economic and Cooperation Framework Agreement has made Taiwan into an economic colony of China, and because it would reveal how collusion with Chinese capital has ruined government funds like the Labor Insurance Fund?
The pending deal over ownership of Next Media’s assets in Taiwan is an alarm bell signaling the threat of curtailed freedom of speech.
Tsai Eng-meng’s (蔡衍明) Want Want China Times Group is one of a joint-group of three conglomerates offering to buy these assets. Tsai has extensive economic interests in China, so he always wants his media outlets to sing China’s praises. For example, while the CCP’s 18th Party Congress was being conducted behind closed doors in the usual feudalistic fashion, an editorial in the group’s Want Daily outdid even the CCP’s own People’s Daily in its sycophancy, saying: “The mainland is a one-party state, but the CCP is to be admired for its efficiency and capacity for self-reform.”
Another member of the trio seeking to acquire Next Media’s Taiwan operations is the Chinatrust group, owned by the Koo (辜) family. Chinatrust’s deployment in China includes the Hankou Bank, the Chailease group and Truswell Investment Co. Chinatrust reportedly wants former Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) to serve on its board of directors. Perhaps it wants to buy a newspaper so that it can use it to flatter the CCP.
The third member of the bidding group, the Formosa Plastics and Nan Ya Plastics group of companies, has also invested heavily in China, where it has been doing business for 22 years. The group’s deployment in China spans eight provinces and includes 31 companies such as Nan Ya, Huafeng, Bicheng and Huaya. No wonder Formosa Plastics Group chairman William Wong (王文淵) boasted that China would probably be happy if his group bought a stake in Next Media.
Rather than asking how many media outlets and journalists read and heard by people in Taiwan every day have been bought out by “red” capital, it would be better to ask how many media companies, reporters and commentators have not been bought off.
Considering the situation in which Taiwan now finds itself, of course it would not be right for the opposition parties to just express their attitude while doing nothing about it. As the main opposition party, the DPP should act as a guardian and do whatever it can to manage and minimize the risks to Taiwan’s democracy. The DPP’s soon-to-be-established China Affairs Committee must perform this kind of strategic function.
Opposing and criticizing China are expressions of the DPP’s standpoint, but the party needs to go beyond that by getting to know China, precisely in order to keep our giant neighbor at bay. Only if it does that will the DPP be able to go on safeguarding Taiwan’s survival and upholding its democracy.
Hung Chi-kune is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Central Executive Committee.
Translated by Julian Clegg