Eric Chu is the only hope for the KMT come 2016
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.