US meddling in democracy
It is a shame that despite protests of neutrality, someone or some ones in the US executive office are once again trying to meddle in Taiwan’s presidential election. Since Taiwan is a democracy, this makes such meddling all the more shameful.
First, we had the “secret leak” to the Financial Times that US President Barack Obama’s administration was displeased and mistrustful of Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) almost immediately after her visit to Washington. The leak was of course “confidential,” (such leaks always are to avoid individual responsibility and blame for meddling), but allegedly from “high up, reliable [read: cowardly] sources.”
The almost immediate action of the leak barely after Tsai’s plane had left the ground indicates it was either pre-planned or Tsai did not give the “patsy” answers to questions asked that the US wanted. One has to remember that the US has for more than half a century maintained the official manipulative stance of “undecided and undetermined” regarding Taiwan’s political status even after it achieved its full-fledged democratic status in 1996.
Now three weeks before the presidential election with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in deep trouble, the US has thrown a bone to their “good little boy Ma who has pledged to do nothing,” ie, his “three noes.”
The US via the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) announced that Taiwan has been nominated (not approved) for the US visa-waiver program. This nomination must be followed by an “extensive and detailed evaluation” of Taiwan’s homeland security and immigration systems. One can only imagine how long that will take, especially with “good boy Ma” encouraging and allowing citizens of the People’s Republic of China to waltz in and out of the country almost at will.
Nonetheless, despite such a long-anticipated review process, the AIT was compelled (should we read ordered?) to officially announce it immediately after the nomination and with only three weeks to go before the presidential election. One could not be neutral and wait for another three weeks, especially since nothing will be done in Washington while the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are upon us?
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), of course, immediately referred to the deal as if it were in the bag. However, there are several real questions that Taiwanese and Americans should ask: If the US really trusted “good boy Ma,” why have they only given military upgrades to Taiwan’s aging air force instead of the latest F-16s? Is Ma the perfect patsy for the US as it maintains its manipulative limbo status on Taiwan’s identity and democracy? Is it because Ma will not support Taiwanese self-identity and choice? And finally, for the world, why does the US, which defends all of its wars and military interventions as being based on a belief in promoting democracy, then turn around and meddle in Taiwan’s democracy?
Just who is Ma loyal to?
Apparently President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is now strongly disavowing that he stands in favor of “ultimate unification.” Such a claim might be believable were it not for two small facts, which I am happy to invite the KMT to rebut if I have somehow become confused or misinformed.
First, whilst touring abroad in February 2006, Ma said that if elected, “the main goal will be to shape domestic conditions for unification and plant the unification idea deep in every sector of society in order to move from an anti-independence strategy toward a pro-unification push.” Later, on the same trip, he said reunification could not proceed without the consent of the Taiwanese people.
What seems apparent from his first statement is that he was planning on building that consent for unification first, absent any great enthusiasm among the self-identifying Taiwanese, whilst at the same time preparing Taiwan, perhaps economically, legally or physically, for unification.
Ma may have achieved many of his aims. He has managed to convince many that the mythical “1992 consensus” is some sort of “Taiwan consensus” about different interpretations of “one China,” despite Beijing having never recognized Ma’s formulation.
His party has managed to sign 15 agreements with the Chinese Communist Party and to ram the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) through the Legislative Yuan without oversight, creating a basis for deepening Taiwanese economic dependency on China.
He has reformulated the status of Taiwan to just being a region of “China” and even rejects the popularly democratic notion of Taiwan as equal to the Republic of China (ROC) and the ROC as equal to Taiwan. Are these not the retrogressive steps of a president seeking to return Taiwan to the pre-democratic era when Taiwanese pride and self-identity were prohibited by the jackboot of KMT martial law, when unelected dinosaur legislators from China still filled the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly and backed the Constitution that was still regarded as applicable to all of China?
Second, I have heard a rumor that the urn containing the ashes of Ma’s late father has some interesting words inscribed on it that, in effect, call on Ma to be a good and filial son by working to achieve the unification his father dearly wished for.
According to Chinese culture, filial piety is one of the core Confucian values to be taken with the utmost seriousness. If the words are true, perhaps Ma can explain to whom he feels the greatest responsibility — the people of Taiwan whose sovereign and self-determining democracy put him in power, or to his father?
Perhaps Ma and the KMT could clarify these points so the public will be less confused about the position of the president and his identity.
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