ANALYSIS: Analysts question president*s national identity after low-key Double Ten Day

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 - Page 3

After observing China's high-〝profile National Day celebrations and contrasting them with Taiwan's low-key arrangements for its National Day on Saturday, analysts said this could indicate President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) wavering concept of national identity.

In stark contrast to China's extravagant celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party coming to power in China on Oct. 1, Ma decided in August to cancel this year's Double Ten National Day celebrations in the wake of the devastation caused by Typhoon Morakot.

While the administration may have felt awkward about congratulating Beijing on its special occasion, four presidential advisers were invited to attend the celebration ceremony. Bowing to public criticism, the four invited guests failed to appear after the Presidential Office telephoned them and asked them not to attend the ceremony.

The Presidential Office later admitted that one of the presidential advisers did inform the office of his trip to Beijing and that it had handled the matter ※a bit too slowly.§


Joseph Wu (吳昭燮), a former chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), said the public backlash over the incident was simple.

"China's national day is the day when the Republic of China [ROC] was kicked out of mainland China and subjugated," he said.

The incident showed the Ma administration was insensitive toward the entanglement between Taiwan and China while it engaged with Beijng, Wu said, adding that the administration's cavalier attitude made the public consider the founding day of the People's Republic of China (PRC) ever more unbearable.

It was clear that the military parade, the first such display in 16 years, was targeted at Taiwan, he said. It only proved that enmity between Taiwan and China has not changed because of the recent cross-strait detente, he said.

Describing Ma's China policy as "impractical," Wu said Ma cited the ROC Constitution to claim that China is part of the territory of the ROC, but such a claim not only ran counter to political reality, but also denied the fact that the ROC exists on Taiwan.

However, Ma's view was consistent with Beijing's interpretation of "one China," Wu said, so Ma did not think it was a big deal to resume negotiations with China under the so-called "1992 consensus." Under the consensus, the KMT administration claimed that Beijing and Taipei agree that both Taiwan and China are part of "one China," but disagree on what that meant.

Wu said Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has made it clear that Beijing can discuss anything if Taiwan recognizes the "one China" principle. Ma, however, has made only one demand and that is for Beijing to remove its missiles targeted at Taiwan before both sides can sit down and discuss a peace agreement or military confidence building measures.

Once Beijing agrees to Ma's demand, Wu said, Taiwan will have no choice but to accept Beijing's terms even if removing the missiles would not substantially reduce its military might.

Ma did not seem to mind popular concern that Taiwan's sovereignty and national interest could be compromised because he embraced a fictitious "one China," Wu said.

To form a strategic view of itself and balance relations with China, Wu urged the Ma administration to continue the cross-strait policy devised by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

On negotiations, Wu called on Ma to conduct thorough studies before he sets his policy. Taking the example of the economic pact the administration seeks to sign with Beijing, Wu said Ma announced it before the Cabinet had assessed its necessity and feasibility.

"It is placing the cart before the horse," he said.

When the DPP was in power, Wu said Washington, Tokyo and the EU were the country's most powerful allies to counter China's suppression on the diplomatic front. During Ma's presidency, however, he depended heavily on Beijing to negotiate with other countries, he said.

Although Taiwan joined the World Health Assembly as an observer this year, Wu said the negotiation process remained a mystery, making the public wonder whether Taiwan's sovereignty was compromised in an under-the-table deal.

"It also makes our friends in the international community think that we don't need their help because we have China," he said.

Wu also expressed concern over Ma's fear of upsetting Beijing, saying it would eventually undermine Taiwan's security. When the administration did not dare speak up for itself, better equip the armed forces or criticize China's human rights record, it is gradually weakening Taiwan*s power, he said.

Domestic reconciliation with the opposition parties is pivotal, Wu said, as a divided Taiwan will only benefit Beijing.

Wu also urged Ma to have an open mind and listen to different voices. Ma does not have to be the smartest leader, he said, but he must capitalize on the expertise of professionals to make the best judgment possible.


Lee Yeau-tarn (李酉潭), a professor at National Chengchi University's Graduate Institute of Development Studies, said that Ma is bound to encounter difficulties if he believes in the "one China" policy.

"The so-called 'one China' is in the past and maybe it will happen in the future, but it is not going to happen now," he said.

While former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) defined the relationship as "special state-to-state" and his successor Chen Shui-bian said there was one state on either side of the Taiwan Strait, Ma stepped backward to "advocate 'one China," putting himself in an awkward position, Lee Yeau-tarn said.

Lee Yeau-tarn, however, was reluctant to conclude that Ma's China policy is moving toward the "one country, two systems" model of Hong Kong. Lee said he would be happy to acknowledge Ma's effort if the accommodations Ma made were for the interests of Taiwanese.

"But it seems he does not give much thought to the direction of the country, the environment, climate change and Taiwan's core values of freedom and democracy," he said.

If Ma had a clear definition of Taiwan's national identity, Lee Yeau-tarn said, Taiwan could easily maintain relationships with long-term allies such as Washington and Tokyo. Taiwan could also lead China to democratization, he said.

Criticizing China's military parade, Lee Yeau-tarn said only authoritarian regimes such as North Korea hold military parades in the 21st century.

Lee Yeau-tarn said he would not have any problem with Ma's identification with Beijing if China were democratic, but it was "ridiculous" to recognize an autocratic regime that is exhausting all its resources to build up its military might.

"I respect his position on political issues, but I cannot tolerate his mixing freedom and democracy with dictatorship," he said.

Lee Yeau-tarn said he could understand Ma's decision to cancel this year's national day celebrations, but it seemed Ma did not take advantage of the critical juncture to ponder how to lead the country to a better future such as enjoying more political freedom and making the environment more sustainable.


Tang Shao-cheng (湯紹成), a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University, said Ma's national identity is perfectly clear, but the problem is both sides are still testing each other.

Tang attributed both sides' political differences to the fact that the civil war between the KMT and Chinese Communist Party is not yet officially over. Once a peace treaty is signed, Tang said all problems would be solved and a new era would begin.

Until then, Tang said a special arrangement must be made under the "one China" principle and "1992 consensus." In other words, the relationship between Taiwan and China is one that is between two regions and if Ma is the chief of the Taiwan region, then Hu is the chief of the mainland region, he said.

"There is no other arrangement better than this," he said.

On the diplomatic front, Tang said the ROC is no doubt an independent sovereignty in the eyes of its diplomatic allies. For non-allied countries, however, they do not recognize the ROC, despite its sovereignty.

During the presidencies of Lee teng-hui and Chen, China could not accept their advocacies because they concerned Taiwan's statehood, Tang said, but under Ma's policy, Taiwan and China are of "one nationality, two regions."

"In other words, we are a region in the face of China, but we are a country when we face the world," he said.