In 2011, a friend from Beijing visited me in my rural hometown. Upon learning that we had a guest from Beijing, my uncle, who was about 80 years old, made a pot of his home-grown tea that he had roasted in the morning to welcome the guest.
He chatted with the visitor in his awkward Mandarin. When my uncle learned that our visitor was a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he brought out the will of my great uncle, who was executed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for participating in the CCP’s Taiwan Provincial Work Committee.
My uncle told our guest that he had heard my great uncle and his comrades discussing New Democracy, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) Thought and other ideas when he was a child.
Despite the language barrier, they had a good time chatting with each other.
My uncle then asked a question in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese): “Why have the CCP and the KMT become so close that they are hugging and kissing each other now?”
I translated his question and explained that what confused my uncle was why the “advanced” CCP would befriend the “backward” KMT.
My guest was dumbfounded at first, but then he burst out laughing and said: “The people in the ‘old liberated areas’ are indeed advanced.”
The doubts of my uncle, a down-to-earth farmer, pinpoints the blind spot of the CCP’s cross-strait unification strategy over the past 30 years; it wins the hearts of a tiny fraction of Taiwanese while alienating the majority.
The “united front” strategy is one of the three principal weapons behind the CCP’s revolutionary success — the other two being party-building and armed struggle. Its primary strategy is to befriend those who are far away and attack those who are close, and to work with minor enemies, aiming to attack the primary enemy to destroy its opponents in a layer-by-layer fashion, like peeling an onion.
Before veterans were given permission to return to China to visit their relatives in 1987, the “three noes” policy — no contacts, no negotiations and no compromises — precluded interactions across the Taiwan Strait, rendering the CCP’s unification strategies useless.
In January 1988, then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) died and was succeeded by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), but KMT elders and the Mainlander elite thought Lee would only serve as an interim president. However, after an attempt to topple Lee in February 1990 failed, he consolidated his hold on power.
Dismayed, someone wrote the following in Jieshou Park in front of the Presidential Office Building: “When a slave of the nation becomes the nation’s master, it is a sign of the nation’s coming demise.”
As Lee implemented democratic reforms and initiated cross-strait talks between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, and as cross-strait exchanges became more important, KMT elders, seeing that they had lost the initiative, started to abandon the Chiang family’s core value of anti-communism and invested their future in China, with some sending secret reports to Beijing on Taiwanese activities.
For instance, one KMT elder who had a good relationship with former Chinese president Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) wrote to Deng accusing Lee of promoting Taiwanese independence, thus complicating the cross-strait relations that Lee was trying to initiate.
With the exception of a minority of KMT elders who pandered to Beijing because they were homesick, most of them did so because they resented having lost power in Taiwan.
Because of its one-party dictatorship, prevalence of discretionary rule, opaque market and ambiguous property rights, China has become a rent-seekers’ paradise.
In 2005, a group made up of KMT elites dismayed by the KMT’s defeat in the 2004 presidential election arrived in this rent-seekers’ paradise. They took advantage of Beijing’s unfamiliarity with Taiwan’s situation and openly reported or invented pro-independence activities of Taiwanese government officials, which the KMT had used in the past to oppress Taiwanese and crack down on the opposition. In exchange, they received political and economic benefits, elbowing out potential competitors and monopolizing the “dividends” of cross-strait exchanges. This was similar to last year’s incident when Huang An (黃安), a Taiwanese singer in China, said that a Taiwanese member of a South Korean pop group supported Taiwanese independence because she waved a Republic of China (ROC) flag on South Korean TV.
In 2008, the KMT returned to office and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) pledged allegiance to Beijing by swearing to uphold the so-called “1992 consensus,” a fabrication by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起). This created fertile ground for booty-sharing between KMT and CCP elites and allowed a few powerful KMT families to monopolize the spoils of cross-strait exchanges.
The more sophisticated among them capitalized on financial, securities and insurance licenses to gain huge economic rent, while the less sophisticated obtained permits or purchasing rights to import and export goods across the Taiwan Strait. The even less sophisticated abused their positions to advance the interests of friends and relatives, causing people to joke about the National Security Council selling blenders and the foundation selling seafood.
The foundation, which was created to address the unique cross-strait situation, was transformed into the KMT’s electoral campaign machine — before every election, it mobilized China-based Taiwanese businesspeople to vote for the KMT.
The foundation’s management staff revised its charter by changing their job descriptions from “positions without remuneration” to “positions that may be remunerated” to enrich themselves. They then approved an annual salary higher than that of the heads of the five government branches. Some of them treated the foundation as a travel agency and apparently swore to visit all the best travel destinations in China.
After those disheartened politicians went to Beijing, they displayed even more contempt for Taiwan and showed more fury in their criticism of the nation than high-ranking CCP officials. When dealing with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, they put on a sorry face, as if they were bearing an enormous grudge, then they would employ some kind of rhetoric to show the “right attitude” while gnashing their teeth to distance themselves from those who support Taiwanese independence. When discussing the glacial progress of unification, they wanted Chinese officials to see just how saddened they were.
After returning to Taiwan, they used all sorts of excuses to justify their actions, saying that they were facilitating cross-strait peace, finding a way out for Taiwanese industry or visiting an old friend.
However, Taiwanese have not forgotten how the same people served their KMT masters 30 or 40 years ago, using the same attitude to show how much they resented communism to obtain high positions.
Taiwanese are intelligent and they understand that these people are motivated by nothing but greed, hatred, lust and ignorance. Some were trying to advance their children’s businesses in China, some were trying to promote their own businesses, some gave away intelligence for the sake of a woman and some thought their talents were not appreciated in Taiwan, so they tried to make their political futures in China.
When Beijing regards the allegiance of those dejected politicians as the biggest breakthrough in their unification campaign, it fails to understand that while it won the hearts of a small group of people, it distanced itself from the majority of Taiwanese and created more barriers to healthy cross-strait relations.
Taiwanese who went through the KMT’s anti-communist education system see the high-ranking KMT figures who taught them to oppose communism and vowed to annihilate the “evil communists” — some of whom have allegedly murdered left-wing or communist Taiwanese — and who enjoyed prosperous lives in Taiwan pay homage to Beijing’s unification strategy and become guests at the CCP’s table. They cannot help but think that the KMT and the CCP are birds of a feather.
After news of KMT elites — who used to tell Taiwanese to be loyal to the ROC — taking their children to cross-strait unification conferences in China or meeting with former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) or President Xi Jinping (習近平) reached Taiwan, Ming Dynasty scholar Ku Yen-wu’s (顧炎武) words on shame must have sprung to the minds of intellectuals: “A Qi Dynasty intellectual once told me, ‘I have a son who is 17 years old and knows how to write official documents. After being taught to speak the Xianbei language and play the pipa, he now does both quite well. He serves high-ranking officials with these skills and everyone likes him.’”
After the Ma administration’s incompetence caused housing prices to rise, real wages to drop, and unpaid leave and unemployment to surge, young Taiwanese are outraged to see the chaotic cross-strait exchanges, which are the result of KMT and CCP elites making deals behind closed doors to share the spoils, or Taiwanese businesspeople returning from China to issue Taiwan Depositary Receipts to raise funds to speculate in the real-estate market and buy up media companies to speak for Beijing.
In about three decades of cross-strait exchanges, Beijing’s unification campaign has been, in the eyes of Taiwanese, more negative than positive. It is replete with KMT elites willing to abandon the KMT’s core values to monopolize the spoils of cross-strait exchanges, dejected politicians sacrificing integrity for greed, and people trying to advance themselves by advocating unification and reporting on people who support Taiwanese independence, such as the gang leader who threatened to hurt students during the Sunflower movement and the singer who bullied a Taiwanese girl because she waved the ROC flag in South Korea.
Fortunately, the CCP does not rule Taiwan and Taiwanese have the freedoms of speech, assembly and association, and they have a very powerful weapon — the vote.
The campaign against the cross-strait service trade agreement that began in June 2013, and culminated in the Sunflower movement in 2014, marked the first stage of a Taiwanese counterattack against the Chinese unification campaign. The nine-in-one elections in November 2014 were the Taiwanese version of the Huaihai Campaign (淮海戰役), as voters defeated some of the most powerful KMT families, which had reaped the benefits of cross-strait exchanges. Last month’s presidential and legislative elections brought about the transfer of power in both the executive and legislative branches, which eliminated most of the influence of the CCP’s unification campaign.
When China’s united front strategy meets democracy, the truth is revealed: That the public cannot be bought off with cheap tricks.
Chang Jung-feng is a former deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council.
Translated by Ethan Zhan
China has started to call Tibet “Xizang” instead of Tibet for several reasons. First, China wants to assert its sovereignty and legitimacy over Tibet, which it claims as an integral part of its territory and history. China argues that the term Xizang, which means “western Tsang” in Chinese, reflects the historical and administrative reality of the region, which was divided into U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham by the Tibetans themselves. China also contends that the term Tibet, which derives from the Mongolian word Tubet, is a foreign imposition that does not represent the diversity and complexity of the region. Second, China wants to
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) had engaged in weeks of political horse-trading between high-ranking officials, hoping to form a joint ticket to win January’s presidential election, but it all ended in a dramatic public falling out on live television on Thursday. The farcical performance involving mudslinging and quarrels among three men — the TPP’s candidate and Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the KMT’s candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), an independent — and their aides in the evening before the official candidate registration deadline
Due in large part to the US-China trade war, Taiwanese supply chains continue to relocate from China and some manufacturers have increased the rate at which they have invested in Mexico to align their operations with the needs of customers and to comply with US policy. However, setting up manufacturing plants in Mexico is not without its complications, including the language barrier, different cultures, local regulations and finding qualified staff. Accumulating talent with proficiency in Spanish is the first step to developing the market in Mexico, and indeed Latin America as a whole. WHY MEXICO Mexico is a good location for three
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) might be accused of twice breaking his promises and betraying the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), then launching a signature drive for himself to stand as a candidate in January’s presidential election, only to turn around and quit the race. It clearly shows that rich people are free to do as they like. If that is so, then Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is the perfect example of a political hack who changes his position as easily as turning the pages of a book. Taiwanese independence supporters