The Liberty Times
Editorial: KMT must seek consensus on pact
Not long ago, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist
Party (CCP) held the Nineth Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in
Nanning, Guangxi Province. The two parties issued 19 recommendations, the most
important being the recommendation that the two sides should work together to
push for the implementation of the cross-strait service trade agreement.
Every year since 2005, KMT members have crossed the Taiwan Strait in order to
build a consensus with the CCP. However, what consensus has the KMT built with
Taiwan¡¦s opposition parties and civic society after it regained power in 2008?
President Ma Ying-jeou (°¨^¤E), who doubles as KMT chairman, has frequently denied
the accusation that he is leaning toward China and selling out Taiwan.
He emphasized that his administration has based its cross-strait relations
entirely on the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution and national interests in
an interview with the Washington Post on Oct. 24 and again when receiving a
delegation of Chinese-Americans from the Committee of 100 on Monday last week.
He also said that ¡§the government has changed the situation in the Taiwan
Why is he now offering such frequent explanations? Is he feeling the pressure
from the nation¡¦s allies and is this forcing him to offer a more ¡§balanced¡¨
The problem is that regardless of whether Ma¡¦s approach is based on the
Constitution, he completely departs from the principle of democracy and
transparency when making decisions by excluding the legislature and public.
Despite strong opposition to the decisions once they have been made, he refuses
to make adjustments and stubbornly insists on implementing them.
Article 2 of the Constitution states that ¡§the sovereignty of the ROC shall
reside in the whole body of citizens.¡¨
However, Ma seems to believe that the sovereignty of the ROC resides in him
alone. In particular, his claim that ¡§the government has changed the situation
in the Taiwan Strait¡¨ is frightening. Is a change to the ¡§status quo¡¨ not a
The international situation is always a result of the terror balance between all
sides. If any party attempts to change the ¡§status quo,¡¨ should all parties not
reassess their forces to stabilize the situation and seek a new balance? How
could Ma and the KMT change the situation unilaterally?
The 19 recommendations issued at the KMT-CCP forum on Ma¡¦s authorization are
all-encompassing, but the key is that the two parties should work together
against external forces. For example, the third recommendation states that the
two sides ¡§should work together in order to meet the challenges and take
advantage of the opportunities in the face of the precarious international
This is the kind of recommendation that many people are skeptical of.
Last month, Shannon Mann, a research assistant at the American Enterprise
Institute, published an article entitled Taiwan is Moving Closer to China, So
Why Isn¡¦t the US Freaking Out? on PolicyMic online.
¡§Perhaps no other ally is left more vulnerable from the US withdrawal than
Taiwan. In the last five years, Beijing has used its influence to dissuade other
countries from signing trade agreements with Taiwan... Coupled with the US
inability to fully rebalance to Asia, Taiwanese President Ma was left no option
but to sign a trade agreement with Beijing... At first glance, these gains are
momentous, but, in reality, Taiwan will experience economic benefits
simultaneously with loss of political self-determination,¡¨ Mann wrote.
Her commentary is mainly objective, but also partially incorrect due to the lack
of close observation. It is mostly objective because Taiwan¡¦s challenges lie in
China, instead of the precarious international environment as the KMT claims. It
is partially incorrect because any benefits for Taiwan are going into a few
tycoons¡¦ pockets. The public does not get to share these benefits, but they have
to share the consequences of the loss of political self-determination.
After the forum reached a consensus on recommending a push for the
implementation of the service trade agreement, cross-strait trade in goods and
the establishment of a dispute settlement mechanism, China¡¦s Taiwan Affairs
Office immediately mobilized groups of Taiwanese businesspeople in China to run
ads in Taiwanese newspapers and magazines to show their support for the
agreement. This shows that Beijing is impatient over the delay of the
legislature¡¦s review of the pact.
In June 2008, the forum recommended a push for direct cross-strait flights. In
December of that year, the Ma administration launched regular cross-strait
direct charter flights. In July 2009, the forum recommended putting the signing
of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) on the agenda. The
following year the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations
Across the Taiwan Straits signed the ECFA.
The decisionmaking mode of the CCP-dominated forum is an indication of China¡¦s
new order to Ma, who will now make every effort to pledge loyalty to Beijing
with the help of the KMT¡¦s legislative majority. Since the opposition camp and
the public are treated as outsiders, how should we respond?
After debating the service trade agreement for more than five months, many
grassroots organizations are calling for a restart to the negotiations, and the
results of a government opinion poll echoed these calls.
Since the pact involves the opening of more than 1,000 sectors affecting 4.23
million Taiwanese, it should not be approved or implemented hastily in a
nontransparent operation without thorough industrial assessments and
communication with the parties involved.
Before a clause-by-clause legislative review of the pact, the ruling and
opposition camps should formulate a set of regulations determining how the
legislature should handle cross-strait agreements. Then, the legislature can go
into a substantial review of the pact according to this, now legalized,
procedure, to strengthen its monitoring of the government.
In a democracy, if the government signs an agreement with another country
without the approval of the legislative and without having built a public
consensus, that agreement will lack the legitimacy of having been reviewed.
Before sending the agreement to the legislature for approval, the Ma
administration should build a domestic consensus.
Translated by Eddy Chang