The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is trying to improve its image in the US’ foreign policy community by admitting faults and professing humility.
KMT spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) published a seemingly frank article — “How Taiwan’s Ruling but Reeling Kuomintang Can Win the Future” — on Foreign Policy magazine’s Web site on Tuesday.
He said the KMT was “in the throes of reform” and aiming for a major restructuring.
Washington insiders say the KMT lost some credibility and support in the US following the defeat it suffered in November’s local elections.
It took another blow when Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) broke with diplomatic protocol and a longstanding agreement when he acted without prior consultation or authorization and organized a Republic of China (ROC) flag-raising ceremony at the Twin Oaks Estate — Taipei’s unofficial embassy in Washington — last month.
At the same time, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has made progress in persuading US officials that it can be trusted to handle cross-strait relations with care and responsibility.
“The question now is what the KMT can do to turn things around,” Chen said.
“In retrospect, it’s hard to miss the major reasons for the KMT’s recent losses,” he said.
Taiwanese have not shared the fruits of economic growth equally, and the party has failed to “satisfy the thirst” that many civic groups have shown for greater involvement as well as failed to answer the complaints of angry and organized protesters, he said.
“Even worse, the KMT has sometimes chosen to stand against street protesters,” he said, citing the case of the Sunflower movement.
It was the KMT’s “harsh response” — including the forceful evacuation of students from the Executive Yuan — “that most alienated voters, particularly young ones,” he said.
“The KMT must improve its relationship with civic opposition groups — instead of opposing them or freezing them out of the decisionmaking process,” he said.
“We need to actively communicate with them, and channel their appeals into actual reforms,” the spokesman said.
Chen said the KMT also needed to change the way it communicated in the online world.
“Instead of treating the Internet as a platform promoting policies we’ve already decided upon, we must use it to proactively engage and encourage public participation at the policy shaping stage,” he said.
Communications had been from the top down, not from the grassroots level up, he said.
“What matters most now is our ability to turn things around,” he wrote. “It begins with the humility to accept criticism and the courage to reform. Recognizing our faults is only the start.”
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