Tsai will­ing to talk about any­thing but re­al­ity

But Tsai should drop her fa­vorite trick of pro­vok­ing the main­land be­fore the is­land feels even more pain.

China Daily (USA) - - VIEW -

Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing­wen, chair­woman of the rul­ing Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party, once again re­frained from elab­o­rat­ing on her cross-Straits re­la­tions pol­icy while de­liv­er­ing a speech on Mon­day. In­stead, she said that “our pledges and good­will re­main un­changed, but we will nei­ther suc­cumb to pres­sure nor re­vert to the old path of con­flict and con­fronta­tion”.

The same com­ments were made in a let­ter Tsai wrote to DPP mem­bers on Sept 29, in which she called the main­land a coun­try for the first time and urged re­sis­tance against “pres­sure” from the other side of the Tai­wan Straits.

In her speech onMon­day, she told the main­land to “face up to the ex­is­tence of the ‘Repub­lic of China’” and “re­spect Tai­wan peo­ple’s faith in democ­racy”. She went on to sug­gest that both sides could talk about “any­thing in the in­ter­est of the peace­ful devel­op­ment of cross-Straits ties and the liveli­hoods of peo­ple on both sides”.

The truth is, Tsai is will­ing to talk about any­thing but the 1992 Con­sen­sus, and her “good­will” is noth­ing more than a pie in the sky. In other words, the DPP leader does not want to face up to the re­al­ity there is only one China, and is in­tend­ing to keep beat­ing around bush in the vain hope of re­al­iz­ing her “pro-in­de­pen­dence” am­bi­tions.

Tsai’s speech, which ba­si­cally re­it­er­ated her pre­vi­ous po­lit­i­cal pledges, was not only an ill-de­signed at­tempt to test the lim­its of the main­land in re­gards to crossS­traits af­fairs, it was also in­tended to make the main­land a scape­goat of her mis­steps at home.

Tsai’s re­cent moves stem from her mis­read­ing of the pen­du­lum of cross-Straits re­la­tions, which she be­lieves had swung in her fa­vor. Backed by some se­nior Kuom­intang mem­bers who served in the Lee Teng-hui ad­min­is­tra­tion and her DPP sup­port­ers, she has sought to cre­ate more po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions in the is­land’s of­fi­cial­dom.

Mak­ing more Tai­wan politi­cians, be they DPP or Kuom­intang mem­bers, ac­knowl­edge the ex­is­tence of the “Repub­lic of China”, serves Tsai’s pur­suit of a bi­par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus, and even­tu­ally the is­land’s “in­de­pen­dence”. So do her ef­forts to tout Tai­wan’s “democ­racy”, which she uses as an ide­o­log­i­cal weapon to attack the fact that both the main­land and Tai­wan be­long to one China.

Ac­cord­ing to Chi­naNa­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion, only 7,915 main­land tourists vis­ited the is­land dur­ing the week­long Na­tional Day hol­i­day start­ing on Oct 1, whereas the fig­ure could eas­ily ex­ceed 10,000 a day in the past. That, of course, has some­thing to do with Tsai’s equiv­o­ca­tion of the “status quo” of crossS­traits ties that ex­isted un­der her pre­de­ces­sor.

But in the face of ris­ing pub­lic rage on the is­land at the drop in main­land vis­i­tors, which has dealt a heavy blow to the is­land’s econ­omy, Tsai does not seem to be both­ered at all. On the one hand, she has promised to at­tract more tourists from South­east Asia to fill the void left by main­land tourists, by coin­ing the so-called New South­ward Pol­icy. On the other hand, she is seek­ing to di­vert pub­lic anger to­ward the main­land, blam­ing it for “pres­sur­ing Tai­wan”.

It is fair to say much of her fo­cus re­mains on af­fairs at home and mak­ing the is­land “a nor­mal state” by cozy­ing up to the United States and Ja­pan rather than try­ing to fix re­la­tions with the other side of the Straits. But Tsai should drop her fa­vorite trick of pro­vok­ing the main­land be­fore the is­land feels even more pain. Zhu Songling is a pro­fes­sor at the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies, Beijing Union Univer­sity. The ar­ti­cle is an ex­cerpt of his in­ter­view with China Daily’s Cui Shoufeng.

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