Soong and Ma played off against each other

By Paul Lin 林保華
While President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was

mourning the death of his mother, Beijing

announced the invitation of People First

Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to

Beijing for a meeting with Chinese President

Xi Jinping (習近平). It is widely known that

Ma and Soong do not get along, so rumors that

Beijing was giving Ma a slap in the face

spread like wildfire.
Such rumors are not without foundation. Ma

has kowtowed to China, losing one symbol of

Taiwanese sovereignty after another and he

cannot even change a single word of his

opaque cross-strait service trade agreement

which influences the livelihoods of all

Taiwanese. Soong, on the other hand, openly

expressed what he referred to as the “four

understandings,” asking Beijing to

understand “Taiwan awareness,” the

“awareness of autonomous citizens” and the

“awareness of economic autonomy.” He

avoided discussion of an “awareness of

political autonomy” to avoid the sensitive

unification-independence issue.
Soong’s ideas are more in line with public

opinion in Taiwan than Ma’s notion of a

“Greater China awareness.” Above all, they

differ from Ma’s talk during election

campaigns about how Taiwan’s future should

be decided by the 23 million Taiwanese, when

he is the only Taiwanese deciding the future,

totally ignoring the public.
On a talk show on ERA TV, Soong said that not

a single person in his delegation to Beijing

conducts business in China and that he did

not let his daughter go. Obviously, Soong

made these comments to differentiate himself

from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Ma and the KMT have enormous business and

political interests in China, the obvious

examples being former KMT chairman Lien Chan

(連戰) and the family of former Straits

Exchange Foundation chairman Chiang Pin-kung

(江丙坤). When Lien recently met with Xi, he

even took along his son, Sean Lien (連勝文),

completely disregarding public opinion.

However, Beijing is not getting ready to

discard Ma. He still has some value left, so

they will keep him around, although they have

now sent him a clear warning. It will be

interesting to see how Ma will respond.
Given Ma’s strong desire for power, he will

not capitulate willingly. He will use the

remainder of his time in office to achieve

his goals. Judging from how the government

and Ma’s team ignored that he was mourning

for his mother, instead committing themselves

to settling the score with the Sunflower

movement and consolidating the central

leadership, it can be surmised that his

opaque service trade agreement is to be

resuscitated or replaced with free economic

pilot zones to please Beijing.
It seems China is slowing down its

unification effort as a result of the

Sunflower movement and is instead showing its

willingness to listen to Taiwanese. Soong has

said that small and medium-sized enterprises,

mid-to-low-income earners, central and

southern Taiwan and the younger generation

are what Taiwan must concentrate on while

helping China express its sincerity. However,

this sincerity is questionable when Beijing’

s conduct with regard to Hong Kong is

examined. Perhaps at one point in time,

Beijing really was sincere, but after

achieving its goals, attitudes changed.
If Ma can put an end to the civic movements

here in Taiwan and give China the “gift” of

unification, Beijing will not refuse.

Taiwanese must pay attention to the chaos

within the Ma administration and resist it as

much as possible. We must also fight Ma’s

score-settling and suppression of protests

lest we lose everything we achieved during

the recent demonstrations. If we do not,

Taiwan will sink further.
By Paul Lin 林保華
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Drew Cameron
Taipei Times  2014.5.17


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