Politics and judiciary need to be reformed
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times  2016.1.31

After her victory in the Jan. 16 election, president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) received congratulatory messages from the

US, Japan, Germany, the UK, Canada, Singapore and other nations. That the majority of them used the title “president” to

address Tsai shows that Taiwan has achieved widespread recognition as a country in all but name.

The improvement of Taiwan’s international status stands in stark contrast to the saber rattling from China, which is

suspected of kidnapping Hong Kongers with dual nationalities and has arrested a Swiss national in Beijing.

On Wednesday last week, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) aired video footage purportedly showing military

exercises conducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Fujian Province. In response, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)

lashed out at Tsai, demanding that she adhere to the rules established between Beijing and the Chinese Nationalist Party

(KMT) with the so-called “1992 consensus.” Unfortunately for Ma, the Ministry of National Defense exposed the CCTV report

to be a montage compiled from military exercises carried out last year.

One reason a military conflict has not broken out across the Taiwan Strait in the past five years is that military reforms

ordered by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have destabilized the PLA.

Another reason Taiwan has avoided military confrontation is China’s economic woes. The failure of China’s leaders to attend

this month’s Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland was noticeable: They did not want to become targets.

Business magnate George Soros said that China’s economic growth rate is actually 3.5 percent and Goldman Sachs, which is

consistently upbeat about China’s economy, conceded that before 2020, the transition of China’s economy would send shock

waves throughout emerging markets.

In the next 10 years, China will have to address a mountain of problems and these could precipitate a power struggle within

higher echelons. Taiwan must use this time to lay the foundations for its own economic and political transformation.

First, the nation needs to reduce its economic reliance on China, which is to be the epicenter of the next economic crisis,

and expand instead into the US market — which is in the process of recovering — as well as into Japan, with which it enjoys

favorable relations, ASEAN, which is gradually distancing itself from China, and India.

Not only would this safeguard the nation’s technological advantage in the semiconductor industry, but would help it develop

new manufacturing industries that would drive Taiwan’s economic development in fields such as biotechnology.

Taiwan also needs to improve its investment market to attract foreign investors and address the problems surrounding state-

owned enterprises.

Politically, the nation must first deal with the KMT’s assets and instigate judicial reform. It can start with passing

regulations governing how the assets are to be dealt with and then assimilate these regulations in a draft political party


The past few years have seen corrupt judges colluding with corporations protected by the law. The KMT government has

frequently used the law as a weapon to deal with political opposition and sometimes with dissident voices within the party.

Genuine democracy is not possible without an independent judiciary.

China might do something unforeseen over the next five years and try to provoke a fight to distract attention from its own

internal problems. If it does, it might well find itself hoist with its own petard.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Edward Jones and Paul Cooper


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