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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times KMT’s methods are self-defeating

KMT’s methods are self-defeating

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The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is again playing the game of mausoleum pilgrimages, with KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) on Tuesday last week visiting the mausoleum of Republic of China (ROC) founder Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) in Nanjing.

A spokesman for the delegation, making an address at the ceremony, used the ROC calendar in a reference to the “105th year of the republic” and later used artful wordplay to make an oblique reference to the ROC with the words “Chinese magnificence, glorious republic.”

Next, it was Hung’s turn to make an address, during which she referred to Sun’s “toppling of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty.”

Ever since the 2005 meeting between then-KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and then-Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), KMT chairpersons visiting China have all paid homage to the ROC by visiting the mausoleum, yet when they meet with Chinese officials in Beijing, they are unable to utter the words “Republic of China.”

It seems that, for members of the KMT, the ROC only exists within the four walls of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. If this is “defending the ROC,” Sun — as well as Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) — are probably spinning in their graves.

During her address at the mausoleum, Hung praised Sun for “spreading freedom” and his “democratic example,” yet she does not believe in the core values of freedom and democracy. Since 2014, the results of local, legislative and presidential elections — and numerous opinion polls — have clearly shown that mainstream public opinion is against Taiwan becoming a part of China and rejects unification.

There is a common denominator that unites the majority of Taiwanese: Maintenance of the “status quo” while preserving peace across the Taiwan Strait and moving toward the normalization of Taiwan as a state able to participate in international organizations. This is particularly true with the younger generation, among whom the idea of “organic independence” is prevalent.

Furthermore, Hung, the chairwoman of an opposition party, has called into question former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy of only talking about “one China, different interpretations” while not mentioning unification, and publicly declared: “I cannot say that the ROC exists.”

Once in Beijing, she echoed the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), promising to strengthen the foundations of the so-called “1992 consensus” and assuage any potential “dangerous unrest” caused by “Taiwanese separatism.”

It seems Hung jettisoned mainstream public opinion as soon as she touched down in China.

Talk of “peace agreements,” “hostilities” and “civil war” are all red herrings: The real issue is how Hung plans to surpass Ma’s formula of “one China, different interpretations” with her proposal in Beijing to “seek common ground on the ‘one China’ principle, while retaining differences on the meaning of ‘one China.’”

The “one China” principle is used by Beijing as a proper noun and as a syllogism: There is only “one China,” Taiwan is part of China and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the only legal government of China. By parroting Beijing’s “one China” principle, not only did Hung trample all over the “different interpretations” formula, she also tacitly acknowledged that “one China” means the PRC, thereby jettisoning her party’s long-standing position that “one China” means the ROC.

The devil is in the details. It must be easy for Ma to see through the word games Hung is playing with her proposal to seek common ground. No wonder Xi was happy to meet with Hung: He can boast of having brought the KMT to its knees as a way to victoriously cap off the sixth plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th Central Committee, which just finished in Beijing.

Taiwanese will have to wait and see what games Xi and Hung play with the semantics of Hung’s new formula and the now mutually acknowledged “one China” principle.

During the Hung-Xi meeting, Xi expressed his commitment to further cement the political foundation of the “1992 consensus,” to resolutely oppose Taiwanese independence and to continue to promote exchanges between the two “areas.”

It seems as if Xi is attempting to heal the rift within Taiwan’s pro-unification camp to prevent the tide of democracy sweeping over Taiwan from washing away the last vestiges of Taiwan’s pro-China politicians.

At the same time, Xi also wants to nurture the support of those who are in favor of economic integration. This means Taiwanese businesspeople in China, the agricultural and fishing industries, the tourism sector — which is heavily reliant on China — and the eight counties and cities in Taiwan that are controlled by the KMT, in addition to what Beijing has dubbed the “three middles and the youth” — residents of central and southern Taiwan; middle and low-income families; small and medium-sized enterprises; and young people.

Xi’s strategy is to prop up the declining fortunes of the pro-unification camp by making it in their financial interest to continue supporting closer ties with China.

Xi emphasized that both sides should continue to uphold the “1992 consensus,” which constitutes the political basis for the “one China” principle — which is tantamount to driving a coach and horses over Ma’s “one China, different interpretations” formula.

As far as President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is concerned, Hung’s trip to Beijing is of little importance: By deviating from public opinion, the KMT will only further weaken its position at home. The government must keep a tight grip on industry and the economy to improve the welfare of the public and thereby neuter Beijing’s policy to impoverish Taiwan.

This would prevent Taiwan from sinking into a breeding ground ripe for economic unification with China and put a stop to naysayers who argue that democracy does not put food on the table and is a hindrance to GDP growth. The government must be especially vigilant of attacks emanating from Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

The meetings between the KMT and Beijing that have taken place since the Lien-Hu meeting in 2005 have been about the KMT and the CCP plotting together against the interests of Taiwan, but with each successive meeting, they have become increasingly incapable of deceiving the Taiwanese public.

As long as Taiwan’s democratically elected government continues to refuse to join the “one China” club, Beijing will continue to suspend dialogue and ramp up the pressure on Taiwan. This demonstrates Beijing’s disregard for public opinion in Taiwan.

Thankfully, Taiwan enjoys freedom and democracy, so whatever closed-door meetings are held between the KMT and CCP, Taiwanese can demonstrate their will through the ballot box and express their disapproval of these underhand practices.

During Ma’s eight years as president, he threw himself — and Taiwan — into the arms of China’s leaders, but what is there to show for this alliance? The ending to this sorry tale is being written and decided by the public, not by any covert pacts between the KMT and Beijing.

Does the KMT really believe that by strengthening its alliance with China while in opposition it will be able to regain power and carry out its nefarious designs on Taiwan?

Since hope rests on the side of the public, the methods the KMT is employing to achieve its aims are self-defeating. Respecting mainstream public opinion and the democratically elected government would be a good place for the KMT to start.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2016/11/07

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Undated photo of Tulku Thupten Nyendak and Atse

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