Eric Chu is the only hope for the KMT come 2016

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Fi­nally, Eric Chu is go­ing to Bei­jing to meet Xi Jin­ping. Chu, the New Taipei mayor who dou­bles as chair­man of the rul­ing Kuom­intang (KMT), will talk about how to move re­la­tions for­ward be­tween Tai­wan and China with Xi, who is gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party (CCP). The out­come may com­pel Chu to re­nege on his oft-re­peated prom­ise not to run for pres­i­dent next year.

Chu has gone on the record many a time to state his de­ci­sion to com­plete his sec­ond and fi­nal term as mayor of Tai­wan’s most pop­u­lous city. As a mat­ter of fact, he made the prom­ise when he de­cided to run for chair­man of the KMT shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou re­signed the chair­man­ship to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the KMT fi­asco in last year’s Nov. 29 9- in- 1 lo­cal elec­tions. Chu can­not go back on his word. He won’t run for the na­tion’s top public of­fice, pe­riod.

This sounds like a very lame ex­cuse. Re­mem­ber how Ma stated — pos­si­bly more than 100 times — that he wouldn’t run for pres­i­dent when he was cam­paign­ing for re-elec­tion as mayor of Taipei in 2002? Af­ter he had been re-elected, he ran suc­cess­fully against Wang Jin­pyng, pres­i­dent of the Leg­isla­tive Yuan, to be elected chair­man of the party in op­po­si­tion. When he was con­victed of mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of public funds in 2007, he re­signed his KMT chair­man­ship and de­clared his can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent, and won in 2008. Sup­port­ers eas­ily for­gave his fail­ure to keep his prom­ise.

One real rea­son why Chu is shy­ing away from the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race is that Tsai Ing-wen, chair­woman of the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) who is run­ning for pres­i­dent, looks in­vin­ci­ble. Chu is still young. He can bide his time un­til 2020.

Tsai isn’t un­beat­able, how­ever. The DPP won a land­slide in the Nov. 29 elec­tions be­cause hard-core KMT sup­port­ers re­fused to go to the polls to vent their frus­tra­tion over Pres­i­dent Ma’s fail­ure to keep his cam­paign prom­ises, in­clud­ing the one to con­clude a peace ac­cord be­tween the two sides of the Tai­wan Strait. The op­po­si­tion party won 47.66 per­cent of all the votes cast, only 6.85 per­cent ahead of the KMT’s 40.7 per­cent. It isn’t a dis­as­trous rout, as far as vot­ing shares are con­cerned.

While Tsai’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is get­ting un­der­way, the KMT has yet to start a party pri­mary. One hope­ful is Hung Hsiu-chu, vice pres­i­dent of the Leg­isla­tive Yuan. She in­sists on open­ing po­lit­i­cal dia­logue across the strait and sign­ing the peace ac­cord Pres­i­dent Ma has re­nounced.

The Chu-Xi meet­ing in Bei­jing is tak­ing place right af­ter the 10th KMT-CCP Fo­rum in Shang­hai. The Fo­rum was es­tab­lished by Lien Chan, for­mer KMT chair­man, and Hu Jin­tao, then CCP gen­eral sec­re­tary while the for­mer was on his one-week Jour­ney of Peace to China 10 years ago. They ended the decades-long fight be­tween the two par­ties and ex­pressed the de­sire to sign a peace agree­ment to end the per­pet­ual en­mity that had ex­isted be­tween Tai­wan and China since Pres­i­dent Chi­ang Kaishek moved his KMT gov­ern­ment from Nan­jing to Taipei at the end of 1949. More­over, they pledged on their honor to move for­ward to­ward their com­mon goal.

Ma suc­ceeded Lien in 2005, while Xi took over from Hu in 2012. Ma quit as KMT chair­man to run for pres­i­dent in 2008, promis­ing to ful­fil Lien’s prom­ise. Af­ter his elec­tion, he for­got his cam­paign prom­ise. Xi, how­ever, still wishes to carry out the prom­ise of his pre­de­ces­sor.

Should Chu go to Bei­jing to re­new Lien Chan’s prom­ise Pres­i­dent Ma has failed to keep, his KMT sup­port­ers would for­give him for not keep­ing his prom­ise to fin­ish his cur­rent term as mayor of New Taipei. They would all go to the polls to vote for him. He is the only hope for the KMT to re­main in power af­ter 2016. The chances are that he may de­feat Tsai Ing-wen.

Even if Chu loses, he may still have a bet­ter chance to win in 2020. Sup­port­ers cer­tainly will try to vote for him to thank him for the for­lorn charge he makes against the DPP.

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