It is ironic before the meeting Democratic Progressive Party’s Presidential candidate Tsai held a press conference claiming the chaotic and rushed way people were informed damaged Taiwan’s democracy. She emphasized in negotiation with China Taiwan must adhere to dignity of equal footing, transparency and not involving politics. She condemned Ma has no rights to promise what he cannot take responsibility for since his days as President are numbered and he frames the future of Taiwan for his personal interests in a political legacy. She also accused Ma’s National Party of using cross strait issues as political manipulation right before election.
After the meeting opponents claim that Taiwan is framed by Xi’s declaration of “One China” and Ma failed to emphasize that “each party under ‘One China’ can state and describe it as they wish. For Mainland China, it’s People’s Republic of China, for Taiwan, it’s Republic of China.There were street protests from various groups vowing to ban the agreement on Trade in Goods.
What is the Reality?
Globally China has economic,political and diplomatic power but Taiwan has none and is not even recognized as a state. How can equal footing be expected? See cartoon from “The Economist”.
Aren’t diplomatic undertakings never transparent? When political leaders meet is it possible not to involve politics?
If you and I were Xi navigating the big ship of China through turbulent waters, would we rock the boat by giving up sovereignty on Taiwan when there are conflicts with political autonomy in Hong Kong, Dalai Lama of Tibet or Xinjiang Uyghur Auotonomous Region? One China policy is second nature to the country.
Economy vs Democracy
The economies of Hong Kong and Taiwan have been plunging since the Umbrella Revolution and Sunflower Movement. Our competitor South Korea had signed a Free Trade Agreement with China already. Reinventing the industries is as urgent as CPR in emergency room. Taiwan has missed golden opportunities for negotiation when its competitiveness was still strong and China was way behind in technology and economic development decades ago. Now the whole world needs China, Taiwan has no bargaining leverage. Maybe the ailing semiconductor industry still has some value to China for a couple of years.
The meeting was held at Singapore that has focused on reinventing itself or economic development and has sacrificed democracy or individuals’ rights to some extent in order to secure governance so the small state can thrive in stability.
The Kenya President once said, “We have more urgent priorities” when Obama urged him to acknowledge gay rights. What is the priority of democracy or human rights when people’s livelihood and survival are at stake?
According to one poll over 50% want status quo and 25% want independence in Taiwan. If the exodus of money or companies continue and industrial woes persist, is status quo or independence possible? Unpaid leave has come back again for some companies since the financial tsunami in 2008.
If only people would use the mind as mirror and ask honestly what is the nature of Taiwan, China, democracy and economy. Does Taiwan have what Ukraine has warranting US and Europe’s support? Would the West give up market opportunities in China that are more crucial than Russia?