Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan’s democracy in trouble, Su Chi says

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in WASHINGTON

Taiwan’s democracy is still valuable, but it is in trouble, Taipei Forum chairman Su Chi (蘇起) told a Washington audience on Tuesday.

He said that “faults and flaws” in domestic politics had resulted in a deadlock where nothing gets done.

Delivering the 18th annual Gaston Sigur Memorial Lecture at George Washington University, Su — a former National Security Council secretary-general under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that over the past decade the nation has celebrated the success of its democracy a little too much.

Domestic politics had dragged down the economy and there was a need for reform and to stop “patting ourselves on the back,” he said.

He said that only by correcting mistakes and flaws could Taiwan be a “better beacon” for people inside China who were hoping to achieve democracy.

Taiwan was diplomatically and psychologically lonely with no natural neighborhood allies, Su said.

Its every move was watched closely by the US, China and Japan leaving the nation with very little room for maneuvering or mistakes.

Taiwan has to be more prudent and careful than other countries and could not afford to cause trouble for its neighbors, he said.

Su said that for much of its history, Taiwan was an underdog, with the US, China and Japan deciding “what we were and what we could do.”

However, that changed when Taiwanese entrepreneurs began to innovate, when the nation’s infrastructure was rebuilt and with the introduction of democracy.

At that point Beijing and Washington began to react to Taiwan’s initiatives and Taiwan became a “tail wagging two dogs,” he said.

Taiwan created the mechanisms for a relationship with China and was able to direct that relationship, he said, adding that a new period was opening where one dog (China) “is not going to let the tail wag it anymore.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is becoming more proactive and Taiwan no longer held the initiative in the relationship, Su said.

During his first term in power Xi was being “soft” toward Taiwan, but that could change in the second term, Su said.

He said that polls showed Taiwanese were moving “almost irreversibly” toward adopting a Taiwanese identity and away from China.

“The sentiment for growing closer to China is getting weaker and weaker,” Su said.

At the same time, he said, the balance of power was moving ever faster in favor of unification and against independence.

Whichever party comes to power after the next presidential election — the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or the Democratic Progressive Party — will have to deal with this “contradiction and tension,” Su said.

In the past six years, Taiwan and China had become more integrated socially and economically, but there was still no “trilateral consensus” between blue, red and green.

This has led to a destabilizing situation where there were too many “fingers on the trigger” and where the rift and power struggle between the KMT and DPP has become worse.

“In Taiwan, the party leaders don’t meet, they don’t talk — they just point fingers at each other,” Su said.

“With a house divided like this, how can we cope with a rising China?” he asked.

If the pan-blue and pan-green camps keep fighting among themselves, the island’s future will not be decided by Taiwanese, he said.

Su said that Taiwan’s first priority should be to promote blue and green reconciliation.

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