Wed, May 16, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Concerns over Ma’s May 20 speech abound at forum

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman and representative to the US Joseph Wu, left, and Taiwan Brain Trust chairman Wu Rong-i take part in a panel discussion in Taipei yesterday about what President Ma Ying-jeou may say when he is inaugurated for his second term on Sunday.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would be making a serious and irreversible mistake if he succumbed to Chinese pressure and included the “one country, two areas” (一國兩區) proposal in his inauguration speech for his second term on Sunday, political analysts said yesterday.

At a forum organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank to discuss Ma’s inauguration speech, academics expressed concerns about recent Chinese pressure on Ma to abandon his “no unification” pledge and to consolidate cross-strait engagement.

Making such proposals in a presidential speech, which is traditionally viewed as an important historical document, would fall into Beijing’s trap of defining cross-strait relations as the lingering historical legacy of the Chinese Civil War under the “one China” framework, former Mainland Affairs Council chairman and representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said.

China is expected to apply persistent pressure on Ma during his second term, as the president has failed to live up to the promise of seeking peace negotiations as he had stated in his inauguration speech in 2008, Wu said.

Ma’s compromise, as well as his hope of leaving a legacy of his eight years in power, could be dangerous because Taiwanese remain divided on cross-strait policy, he said.

Ma should apologize for his poor governance and refrain from making any half-baked statements in the speech on Sunday, he said.

With his approval rating plummeting to as low as 15 percent, Ma is not expected to make any substantial announcements related to domestic policies in the speech, said Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), director of the think tank’s research department.

“But he could try to address external relations more boldly to shift the public focus away from tumultuous domestic chaos, which is why we are worried,” Liu said.

Regardless of what Ma might say, Beijing’s position on the issues of US arm sales to Taiwan, the South China Sea and Taiwan’s international space is not expected to change much in the next four years, Liu said.

Rather than seeking to establish a premature and unrealistic “historical legacy” for himself, the president should focus on issues such as domestic socioeconomic stability, preservation of Taiwan’s democracy and active promotion of public diplomacy using the nation’s “smart power,” he said.

Kenneth Lin (林向愷), a retired economics professor at National Taiwan University, said division and confrontation between the pan-green and pan-blue camps would intensify if Ma chooses to renounce his “no unification” pledge and include the “one country, two areas” proposal in his speech.

“Ma’s decision of resorting to outside influence — China — to solve political and economic problems in Taiwan in the past four years has always been questionable,” Lin said.

Lin said the most critical issue for Taiwan in the next four years would be “socioeconomic rebalancing,” which would involve seeking sound wealth distribution and social justice, industrial upgrades as well as economic transformation.

“Without independent and robust economic strength, it would be difficult to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty. That’s the most important task Ma has to work on in his second term,” Lin said.

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