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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Inside Taiwan’s Political Purgatory: Lee Teng-hui, a profile in courage (Part 11 of 20)

Lee Teng-hui is Taiwan’s elder statesman having served as President of the Republic of China in-exile from 1988 to 2000.   Lee bridged the chasm between the martial law period under the dictatorship of Chiang Ching-kuo to his own elected presidential term.

Lee was a reluctant member of the Kuomintang political party and parted ways after his terms in office ended when the KMT expelled him. Still, Lee’s involvement in the KMT was difficult for his pro-democracy friends. Lee is also a former Communist Party member during his college days in Taiwan.


Government policy will sow further division

Welcome to China” — the greeting I received at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Policy Foundation in January is symptomatic of current cross-strait developments in Taiwan. The government’s cross-strait package of technical agreements and the forthcoming economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) will drain Taiwan’s political energy and divert attention away from other key matters for years to come. This is unavoidable as the government’s policies are out of touch with reality. Indeed, they blindly inflate divisions instead of attempting to unify people in Taiwan’s divided society.

The cross-strait package also diverts attention from efforts to inform others about what Taiwan can bring to the world. Instead, an increasing amount of hard work is now being spent to correct misunderstandings about Taiwan in Europe. For example, an ECFA is believed to be an approach that fits with the EU’s “one China” policy.


Balance of power sees Ma aligned with China

In 1972, before then-US president Richard Nixon’s visit to China, US national security adviser Henry Kissinger was expounding his “balance of power” theory. This saw the US working with China to keep the Soviet Union in check over the next 15 years. Another 20 years on, the US president has changed tack, teaming up with Russia against China.

This rotation of the triangle of relations between the three powers took place almost 20 years later than Kissinger had predicted, but now we have US President Barack Obama’s administration concentrating once more on US-Russia relations: They recently signed the first nuclear weapons pact between the two countries in two decades. The US has clearly decided its best bet is to lean toward Russia to keep China under control.


ECFA, Another Insult from the People that Gave Taiwan 6-3-3

Only a complete dunce totally of touch with Taiwan's reality would claim ignorance of Ma Ying-jeou's infamous 6-3-3 promise in all its foolhardy glory. This campaign promise of the 2008 presidential elections came about when Ma's so-called A-Team of economic advisors told him that 6-3-3 was easily achievable and he should have no fear of promising it. It was of course a gross misread of the economic scene from the git-go. Despite all the back-tracking that it would have to wait until a nebulous transformation in 2016 when Ma could comfortably escape as well as attempts to blame it all on outside forces, the reality remains it was bad advice and a total economic misread.


The Cabinet’s shortsighted PhDs

The Cabinet may claim to be a body of doctoral degree holders, but they are often incapable of explaining their ever-changing policies. This was true of the US beef import debacle and it applies both to an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China and to the draft industrial renewal act that the legislature is about to vote on. On the eve of the vote, the Cabinet suddenly announced that it would cut the 20 percent business income tax rate in the draft to 17 percent. That cut will cost the government NT$30 billion (US$956 million) in lost tax revenue.


Taiwan needs boost in creativity, not more cuts in taxes

Initially billed as a means to simulate industrial innovation and research and development, the draft Statute to Encourage Industrial Innovation has turned into yet another program to provide a "low cost" environment for Taiwan businesses with scant concern for the cultivation of long-term sustainable competitiveness based on high value added, robust product and service quality and creativity.

Initially approved by the rightist Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) Cabinet in May 2009, the draft bill was advertized as a means to promote research and development, innovation and manpower training and provide ways to solve the needs of business for capital and land.

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National Tsing Hua University student Dennis Wei speaks at a Taiwan Association of University Professors symposium in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The recently concluded visit of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) exposed the danger of the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s attempt to merge “two distinctively different civilizations and the fragility of Taiwan’s democracy and civic society,” panelists at a symposium said yesterday.

“Never think that the tragedy of the 228 Incident cannot happen in the 21st century,” retired National Taiwan University professor Kenneth Lin (林向愷) told the symposium, organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors.