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Taiwan president-elect should visit

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热度1406票 时间:2008年4月08日 21:50
GUANGZHOU, China,  Ma Ying-jeou, the Kuomintang candidate, will be elected president of Taiwan on Saturday, if public opinion polls turn out to be accurate and there is no last-minute surprise incident like the attempted shooting of Chen Shui-bian when he was running for a second term in 2004. The remaining questions concern what Ma will do after he is elected.

The people's preference for Ma can be largely attributed to their disappointment in Chen's administration over the past eight years. However, Ma's advantage over his opponent, Frank Hsieh, cannot be explained quite so easily, in terms of the two men's domestic platforms and their cross-Strait policies. Hsieh has clearly separated himself from the troublemaker Chen Shui-bian, in order to possibly win the election, which seems to be one reason the gap between the two candidates has narrowed in recent opinion polls.

In fact, if the voters really examine Ma's mainland policies, they will find that many of them cannot be implemented in reality. They merely reflect the wishful thinking of the KMT. Then, what cards does Ma hold to enable him to pull Taiwan out of the mire into which Chen has caused it to sink?

After the Democratic Progressive Party took power in 2000, a party think tank predicted that Taiwan would all be painted green -- meaning under the dominion of the DPP and bent on the pursuit of independence. That statement was aimed at untying the hard knot of Taiwan's political and economic relations with China.

Chen couldn't untie that knot, however. So he chose an effective and acceptable method of securing his power -- making China the devil.

Unfortunately, in demonizing China Chen not only included the KMT authorities that were driven by the Chinese Communist Party to Taiwan 60 years ago, but also expanded the concept to include Chinese culture and even the 1.3 billion people of China. Chen hijacked the concept of democracy to diminish Taiwan's ties with China and pursue Taiwan's independence. This was unbearably painful to the people of Taiwan. Not even a dictator could have dreamed up this approach, which almost ruined the one tiny sparkle of democracy on Chinese soil.

One could say that Chen had no choice but to advocate Taiwan's independence in order to protect the hard-earned democratic system and freedoms of the people in Taiwan. This approach could be deemed politically correct in the eyes of the Taiwanese. Nevertheless, his approach proved untenable. In fact, in the end it posed a threat to Taiwan's democracy and the people's freedoms.

Does the Taiwan leadership have no better option? A responsible politician in Taiwan should clearly understand his unfavorable position and look for possible solutions. He should not use democracy as an excuse for pursuing independence, and should realize that tackling the issue of cross-strait relations and unification should not be separated from the issue of democracy.

Under a democratic system, politicians realize that their political fortunes are determined by the citizens and by their own actions. As a result, candidates are always moving around or jumping up and down based on public opinion, acting as buffoons. I consider that making politicians clowns is the essence of democratic politics -- but it is better than controlling people and manipulating public opinion by guns and killing.

The issue lies in whether a political figure, after being elected by the public, has the resolution to become a leader or remain a political broker. Chen had the opportunity to develop into a real leader, to realize his aspiration and to improve governance in Taiwan during the eight years of his presidency. But he has merely been acting as a political broker -- and now he must step down in disgrace.

Then what can Ma do if elected? The support Ma has received is largely due to people's disappointment with Chen, as well as his strong spirit and economic promises. Can Ma accomplish what Chen could not achieve? How can he carry out his campaign platform and promises? Will he break his promises, like Chen ate his own words?

Ma is facing the same two issues Chen faced -- politics and the economy; in other words, democracy and the people's livelihood.

Chen Shui-bian's failure was confusing these two issues. He restricted the economy, which was supposed to be stimulated by politics, and played with politics, which should have been restricted by the issue of national independence.

How will Ma deal with these issues in the four, or possibly eight, years ahead?

The answer lies neither in Taiwan nor in China, but in the major trends that are spreading everywhere in the world -- economic globalization, the market economy and political democratization.

History and the people will be the final judges of any political figure, regardless of his party, nation or area, and they will judge him based on universal principles and historical trends.

Chen Shui-bian, located on an isolated island, couldn't see the big trends. He was busy trying to separate Taiwan from China while the entire world had its eye on China's economic opportunities. The result was that he was isolated, not China.

Chen felt that China's 1.3 billion people wanted to kill him. What he failed to recognize was that the citizens in China are as eager to have democracy and freedom as he is. Thus, Chen challenged the Chinese authorities and people with the weapon of Taiwan's independence, but failed to use the most powerful weapon he possessed -- freedom and democracy. It was easy to see that Chen's China policies were moving against the three worldwide trends above.

Ma will require political wisdom to align with these three global trends and not be blamed as a betrayer of Taiwan.

Ma must cast off the affected manners needed for the election campaign, and start thinking of new possibilities and new solutions. Otherwise, being re-elected in four years' time will be much tougher. The KMT will be rejected by the people again, and Taiwan's economic and political future will be uncertain. Only if Ma can incorporate the three global trends into his governance and his cross-strait policies will he be able to lead Taiwan out of the swamp.

Although Chen Shui-bian reversed Taiwan's democratic progress, it is still sure that Taiwan's economic future is bound to China, while China's political prospects lie with Taiwan. This is in accordance with cross-strait development and with world trends.

In this light, Ma should take one simple step to become a real leader -- visit China.

This visit is impossible at the moment; otherwise Ma won't be elected. It is also impossible for him to visit China after he takes up his post on May 20. So the best time for him to visit China would be between March 22 and May 20.

In this case Ma would not be limited by Taiwan's Constitution or present laws, and the impact of such a visit would be beyond imagination. This would bring Taiwan an economic breakthrough with China, unfreeze cross-strait relations and resolve the current deadlock. More importantly, it would have great influence on the people in China.

The previous visits to China by Taiwanese politicians Lien Chan and James Soong were called "peace trips," but although they spoke of universal values and world trends, both visits were burdened with heavy emotions.

Lien came to China representing the defeated KMT -- defeated first by the Chinese Communist Party before escaping to Taiwan in 1949, and again by Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party half a century later. Soong was not better than Lien; Soong visited China when his People First Party had shrunk to insignificance. For many Chinese citizens, who are cut off from reality, their visits were very passive. That might be one reason they were allowed to come.

In Ma's case, however, if he were to visit China before officially taking up his post, it would be historical. He could discuss business and trade cooperation with Beijing officials, worship his ancestors in his hometown and greet Chinese citizens as the leader of the victorious KMT, having won back the people's hearts and political power after eight years.


(Yang Hengjun is a well-known Internet critic on current affairs, as well as the author of popular political spy novels. He has been a researcher on international relations and politics for the Chinese government. This article is translated and edited from the Chinese by UPI Asia Online; the original may be found at www.tecn.cn . ©Copyright Yang Hengjun.)




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