As President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is determined to sign an economic pact with Beijing, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday urged the administration to pressure Beijing to help Taiwan sign free-trade agreements (FTA) with its non-allied countries.
“If Ma is a responsible leader, he should speak on behalf of Taiwan and ask Beijing not to obstruct other countries from signing FTAs with Taiwan,” she said. “If Beijing rejects such a precondition, the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] can mount a referendum on the [proposed] economic cooperation framework agreement [ECFA].”
Lu made the remarks during a speech organized by the Hung Chun Pei Foundation in Taipei City yesterday afternoon. Her topic was new prospects for Taiwan-China relations.
Describing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as “dancing a tango,” Lu said the two parties were plotting a “3-3-3” scheme, in which they planned to sign an ECFA, create a military confidence-building mechanism and sign a peace treaty before 2011 by using the KMT-CCP forum, the cross-strait forum and the Straits Exchange Foundation and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait as their communication platforms.
While the administration keeps promoting the benefits of the planned ECFA, Lu said it failed to explain why it did not make efforts to sign FTAs with ASEAN countries. The DPP has been vocal about the ECFA, but it has not proposed any remedy either, she said.
Lu urged Ma to reveal the content of the proposed agreement for public scrutiny and let the legislature debate it before any accord is signed.
Lu said China has earned NT$168 billion (US$5.3 billion) in exports of agricultural produce to Taiwan from 1989 until this year, adding that she was worried other traditional industries would suffer if an ECFA were signed.
Emphasizing that it was “too simple” to describe the relationship between Taiwan and China as “cross-strait,” Lu said both the ruling and opposition parties should realize that Taiwan has been an independent sovereignty since 1996, when the public first elected their president.
“The Republic of China is Taiwan and Taiwan is the Republic of China,” she said. “Only when we unite can we stand up against the People’s Republic of China.”
While Beijing contends that the Taiwan problem is the result of the Chinese civil war between the CCP and the KMT and that both sides should seek to end enmity, Lu said such an argument was misleading.
Some also criticized the DPP for lacking a China policy, but Lu said the accusers seemed to forget that the DPP was in power between 2000 and last year and that its China policy was clear and progressing.
It began from the “Taiwan Independence Clause (台獨黨綱) in 1991, she said, and then moved on to the Resolution on Taiwan’s Future (台灣前途決議文) in 1999, the Creating a New Situation for Taiwan’s Economic Resolution (開創台灣經濟新局決議文) in 2001, the Multiple Ethnic Groups, United Country Resolution (族群多元,國家一體決議文) in 2004 and the Normal Country Resolution (正常國家決議文) in 2007.
Lu said both the DPP and the KMT want peace across the Taiwan Strait, but the means are different, with the DPP seeking to attain that goal under the principles of equality, dignity, respect and reciprocity.
Although tensions across the Taiwan Strait have diminished since Ma came into office, Lu said the administration must take seriously the fact that Taiwan’s sovereignty has been eroded and that it is not up to the administration to interpret what the so-called “one China” principle signifies.