It is no small irony that the visit last week of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) would bring to the fore a potentially damaging rift within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
No sooner had Chen returned to China than the party’s old guard — personified by former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) — accused the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of mishandling a decision to avoid holding major banquets for Chen.
Then a newspaper alleged that SEF officials had referred to Chen as a “C-list” politician whom “A-listers” Soong, Lien and former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) had desperately sought to meet. SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) denied such a comment had been made, but the damage was done.
Without going into the ludicrousness of anyone considering Lien and Soong to be “A-listers,” it was clear that subterranean animosity in the pan-blue camp, hitherto mostly manifested in body language, was coming to the fore.
Soong, a Mainlander conservative who has long sought, though never entirely successfully, to dispel his image as someone who would sell out Taiwan because of his pro-unification views, was now accusing the SEF and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) of failing to consult opposition parties — the irony of Soong championing “the opposition” being totally lost on him — over their cross-strait policies. He also did not take too kindly to seeing his request to meet Chen turned down by the SEF and the MAC, nor even Ma’s decision to bar Lien from hosting a banquet in Chen’s honor.
It’s hard to tell whether Soong’s accusations resulted from an injured ego, or whether he was referring to the PFP when he claimed that Ma and the government had failed to consult “the opposition,” but one thing is certain: There’s a rift within the pan-blue camp, and it will only widen the closer we get to cross-strait dialogue on political matters.
This fissiparousness holds opportunities and dangers. It could give the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) an opportunity for a wedge — perhaps by allying itself with less conservative elements in the pan-blue camp — and help shape the cross-strait dialogue in a way that is more favorable to Taiwan. Or it could be part of Beijing’s plan to divide Taiwan’s political landscape until the latter is unable to present a united front of any description.
DPP supporters who think in terms of the next elections may delight in apparent struggles within the KMT, but this is shortsighted, as the nation stands to gain nothing from weakness when it comes to cross-strait negotiations.
How apt it is that these signs of a deep KMT split would occur just as archeologists in China claim to have discovered the tomb of infamous third-century Chinese general Cao Cao (曹操), who more than anyone understood the value of shifting alliances and the opportunities created by disunity in the enemy camp.
Just like the cunning warlord, Beijing is unlike its opponents in its steadfastness of purpose and unflagging desire to seize its objective. It will exploit greed, pride and weakness in others, turn foe against foe, make temporary alliances and be unsparing in pursuit of its objectives.
If we only learn one thing from Cao Cao, it is that disunity in the face of a threat is nothing to savor. If all it takes to split this nation is a “C-list” envoy like Chen, then there isn’t much hope for survival.
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
Just a few days after an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May announced that a domestically produced vaccine against the virus would become available late this month. At the time, even though the government had placed orders for the Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, just 700,000 of the doses had arrived, and many Taiwanese were reluctant to get inoculated, in no small part due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) disinformation campaign about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s alleged shortcomings. Before the outbreak, the government had been successful in keeping the number of infections to a minimum,