Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), speaking at an Aug. 22 symposium titled “National Insecurity” hosted by his foundation, said that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) unwillingness to accept the “1992 consensus” and her policy of “aligning with the US to oppose mainland China” have pushed the situation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait from stalemate to crisis.
Ma accused Tsai of preferring to risk war over accepting the “1992 consensus,” which Ma said was designed to prevent armed conflict.
Ma asked why Taiwan should suffer a disastrous war that could be sparked by a “first shot.”
He asked how the president could afford to be careless, given that Taiwan would decline as soon as a war broke out.
Ma’s remarks are seriously out of tune with public opinion. Riddled with defeatism, they only bolster the enemy’s prestige and amplify its arguments. They are unacceptable to the majority of Taiwanese.
Legislative and presidential elections are an important democratic mechanism for periodically testing trends in public opinion.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration won the legislative and presidential elections on Jan. 11 with an electoral strategy that rejected the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) line about the “1992 consensus.”
This double victory, which allowed the DPP to retain government power, indirectly proved that the so-called “1992 consensus” is out of date and not in tune with mainstream public opinion.
As for the question of whether China might use military force against Taiwan, Ma’s assertion that peace will prevail in the Taiwan Strait, with no risk of war, only if the KMT is in power does not hold water.
For example, in May 2015, when Ma was president, the Pentagon published its annual Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, which said that China had more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles deployed against Taiwan that were capable of delivering “precision strikes” and that the number of such missiles had not decreased since Ma first took office, but was continually increasing.
In late September that year, Rand Corp published a report in which it stated more precisely that the number of China’s short-range missiles had grown to about 1,400 and that they could strike Taiwan’s air force bases, effectively paralyzing them.
It is an internationally recognized fact that China continued to aim advanced guided missiles at Taiwan when the KMT was in government.
China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, the M503 flight route issue and the Chinese National People’s Congress’ passage of a National Security Law for Hong Kong, which includes articles that are specifically related to Taiwan, are all examples of the military threats China keeps making.
As Taiwan’s president and commander-in-chief at the time, why did Ma not openly question these improper actions by China while he had the attention of the international media? Why did he not take the opportunity to do so when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2015.
Why did he not strongly refute Xi’s ridiculous statement that China’s missiles were not for use against Taiwan?
China’s top national leaders, including Xi, have worked hard with no respite to fulfill their political mission of “uniting the motherland.”
In the past few years especially, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has held military exercises that simulate an invasion of Taiwan, such as those at the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia.
China is determined to achieve its national strategic purpose of using its military to encourage unification. Its determination will certainly not change, regardless of which party holds the presidency in Taiwan.
When the KMT was in power, the US Department of Defense’s annual reports on Chinese military power said that even though the KMT promoted cross-strait economic interchanges, the PLA had never reduced its military deployments along the coast facing Taiwan, nor had it deviated from its invasion plans.
Yao Chung-yuan is an adjunct university professor and former deputy director of the Ministry of National Defense’s Strategic Planning Department.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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