President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) once proposed a “golden decade,” a pretty slogan that resulted in a loss of sovereignty, an economic slump and deteriorating living standards. Luckily, president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) now have a firm grip on power, having won both the presidency and a legislative majority.
The day after her election, Tsai met with US and Japanese diplomats. This is reminiscent of how former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) mentioned “leaning to one side” when discussing foreign policy in his essay On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship. Foreign policy is the extension of domestic policy and it is easy to see that, as Tsai deals with the economic mess Ma is leaving, she must work closely with the US and Japan to rebuild the economy, improve living standards and revive Taiwan.
However, Tsai’s “leaning to one side” differs from Mao’s. Then-US ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart remained in Nanjing to meet with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but Mao refused and instead wrote five articles for the Xinhua news agency condemning US imperialism.
Tsai has done nothing of the kind and China has not shown any strong reaction. By interpreting that as good will on China’s part, Tsai is extending goodwill gesture toward China, which is in line with her view of approaching China from an international community perspective.
China’s reaction to Tsai’s victory has been much friendlier than that of then-Chinese premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) 16 years ago. It could be an expression of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) pragmatism, or just a result of all his domestic troubles, leaving him with no time to respond.
The severity of China’s internal crisis can be seen in the chaos that has resulted from military reform: Last week, a plan to reduce the nation’s seven military regions to four areas was increased to five areas, and the Beijing military region, which was to belong to the northern military area was transferred to the central military area. Also, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Lieutenant General Liu Yuan (劉源) — the son of former Chinese president Liu Shaoqi (劉少奇) — last month retired early. China would have to be suicidal to enter a war at this time.
Last year, China’s exports fell for most of the year and the nation failed to reach GDP growth of 7 percent. Capital is leaving, foreign reserves are falling rapidly and the yuan is repeatedly being devalued — all of which has led to a stock-market meltdown. Rapid economic growth has reached its limit and is now entering a downward cycle, challenging former World Bank vice president Justin Lin’s (林毅夫) statement that rapid growth in the Chinese economy could continue for another 30 years. Falling numbers of people traveling abroad is another sign of such decline, while Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has affected the efficiency of economic efforts.
As the anti-corruption campaign has become a tool in a power struggle, the internal CCP struggle is more intense than observers might think. Late last year, PLA Air Force General Liu Yazhou (劉亞洲) — son-in-law of former Chinese president Li Xiannian (李先念) — paraphrasing Mao, said that “sometimes reform is also politics with bloodshed.”
There already exists differences of opinion within the CCP over whether Xi should be re-elected at the party’s 19th National Congress next year, and it appears Xi is often forced to cover up internal disputes.
Perhaps the crisis in China and the transition in Taiwan offer a golden opportunity for the two. Hopefully the DPP and the public make good use of the situation and work together to run Taiwan and welcome a brighter future.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Perry Svensson
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
Astride an ascended economy and military, with global influence nearing biblical proportions, Xi Jinping (習近平) — general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), chairman of the Central Military Commission and president of the People’s Republic of China — is faithfully heralded, in deeds and imagery, as a benevolent lord, determined to “build a community of common destiny for all mankind.” Rather than leading humanity to this Shangri-La through inspirational virtue a la Mahatma Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln, the CCP prefers a micromanagement doctrine of socialism with Chinese characteristics as the guiding light. A doctrine of Marxist orthodoxy transplanted under a canvas
On Sept. 8, at the high-profile Ketagalan security forum, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged countries to deal with the China challenge. She said: “It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framework to generate sustained and concerted efforts to maintain a strategic order that deters unilateral aggressive actions.” The “Taiwan model” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic provides an alternative to China’s authoritarian way of handling it. Taiwan’s response to the health crisis has made it evident that countries across the world have much to learn from Taiwan’s best practices and if