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Aug 2, 2011


A series of articles that give insight into the posturing about cross-strait policy as the election approaches.

吳敦義暗批蔡:光喊台獨不敢推 是詐欺 中國時報 2011-07-29 03:00
綠:藍黨綱求統 馬真要跟中國統一?中國時報 2011-07-29 03:00
馬辦:蔡英文願不願宣示不獨 中央社 2011-07-29 13:42
遭吳批立場反覆 蔡英文:態度一向清楚 中央廣播電台 2011-07-29 07:56
蔡英文:兩岸立場一致 馬辦:一致閃躲 yam蕃薯藤新聞 2011-08-01 15:00

In chronological order, we see:
  • KMT VP candidate and current Premier Wu Dun-yi accusing Tsai Ing-wen of being a vocal Taiwanese Independence supporter who won't actually promote the goal, making her a liar.
  • The DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai responds by calling out the KMT charter for promoting unification, so that means Ma and Co. are a bunch of liars, or that the KMT is institutionally a liar.
  • Ma Ying-jeou's campaign office accusing Tsai Ing-wen of avoiding a clear statement ruling out Taiwanese independence, throwing a few glancing blows at the DPP charter as well.
  • Tsai Ying-wen saying that her policy view has been steady and clear.
  • Ma's campaign office pointing out DPP policy flip flops.
I think it's funny that the incumbent president and his running mate can accuse Tsai Ing-wen of opposite charges initially, and it goes to show how the KMT can attack the DPP's delicate position from both the center and the Deep Green.

The Blue camp intends to stir up fear on the Deep Green side of a DPP sell out -- which they hope can mean lower or split green turnout. Certainly lower turnout would be a real possibility, but I don't have any fear of a DPP vote split; they're neither prone to that problem historically nor is there someone with charisma willing to oppose Tsai.

At the same time, the KMT is exploiting and trying to perpetuate public confusion about DPP cross-strait policy, which is admittedly rather vague. But the DPP has to be vague; because the greens rejects the '92 consensus, the DPP really has no option but to remain tight-lipped on how they'll manage to negotiate with China. Speak too soon and the CCP pounces to denounce your formula as unworkable, and should you then win the election, it's harder to find a face-saving way to continue talks or the current framework. 

And formulating yourself clearly carries only this risk, but no benefits, because certainly China would not be willing to let a non-'92 consensus framework get a public green light from CCP authorities before the election. That would virtually eliminate the largest anxiety people have about electing the DPP, and such a change doesn't benefit Beijing's goal of unification.   

Still, the skill in the KMT strategy is that while ambiguity is a very useful negotiating tool, it's not a very good election strategy. Just makes it easier for opponents to accuse you of standing for nothing, being a sell out, being incompetent, etc etc.

So the DPP plan is apparently to first remain clear about red lines (i.e. rejection of an explicit  'One China' framework). Next, express willingness to maintain all the agreements signed so far, and finally throw vague pleasantries out there in the hopes that someone will take the bait if Tsai is the winner come 2012.   

I would say the CCP-KMT effort to force the DPP into a very precise policy formulation is pretty smart politics, and likely to work. I expect the DPP will be forced to forge an internal consensus on exactly what language they're willing to embrace for the sake of talks, and on exactly what they cannot accept. And I don't see how the additional clarity will actually benefit the Green camp.

Unfortunately, since Beijing has their own veto on what formulation will work, and a precisely articulated DPP policy is unlikely to allay fears of Taiwanese Independence forces in Beijing, it'll be up to the relatively dovish faction in China to find a way to continue relations in the event of a DPP victory.

1 comment:

Gilman Grundy said...

This shows clearly why the cross-strait issue is such a vote-loser for the DPP, even though their position is more in tune with the average Taiwanese. On the other hand, the fact that the KMT is attempting to criticise Tsai in this area, shows how little they have to offer Taiwan in other areas.