CHESTER HAS MOVED!: Late pre-election surge by Taiwan separatist party is setting off alarm bells

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Late pre-election surge by Taiwan separatist party is setting off alarm bells

The International Herald Tribune states that the parties and political forces favoring independence are gathering momentum in the final run up to Taiwan's parliamentary election on Saturday:
But widening support for the party lately has forced President Chen Shui-bian and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party to tilt further toward independence as well, a trend that could be a harbinger of increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait in years to come.
One of the main questions is whether or not Chen will try to change the name of many of Taiwan's organs, from "Republic of China" to "Taiwan":
Hours before a TSU rally Sunday, Chen unexpectedly announced that he wanted to change "China" to "Taiwan" in the name of state-owned enterprises like China Telecom. He also proposed to change the name to Taiwan on the economic and cultural offices that it maintains in more than 70 countries, including the United States, that recognize Beijing instead of Taipei.
An Alert Reader, who is in Taiwan, and wishes to remain anonymous, emails Chester with this report:
People I have talked to recently feel that the DPP or Pan-Greens (President Chen Shuei Bien’s alliance) will win the Dec. 11th elections over the Pan-Blue alliance.  If you look at the recent history of the politics here the DPP came to power (won the presidency) with only about a third of the vote.  That was 4 or 5 years ago.  That was because the KMT (Koumintang) party had split in two.  However just recently President Chen won the presidential election outright against the combined forces opposed to him, although it was by the skin of his teeth (about 30,000 votes).  So, the momentum is in favor of the DPP. Just recently President Chen has made known his wish that the names of schools, state firms and foreign missions change their names that have to do with China.  In other words Taiwan agencies that call themselves anything that has to do with China would change their name.  Sounds like a distinct but small step away from association with China.  Naturally the USA came out against the idea.  I was in Taipei two nights ago and had supper with some Taiwanese at the American Club.  While eating one of the ladies there who was speaking Mandarin Chinese said, “I am speaking a foreign language.”  She was facetiously referring to President Chen’s move away from China. Today in my Chinese class (I am studying Chinese), I asked my teacher a number of questions about all this.  She was very cynical of politics but believed that the DPP would win the upcoming election.  I also asked her how China could woo Taiwan.  She is well aware that their method to date has been the iron fist.  Her reply was that there was no way.  I think there are many here who believe that there is no joining with China again.  I think too from what she said that there are some who feel that the US will bail them out in the event of war.  However she was not under that illusion.  Help from the USA is not a sure deal since we are stretched so thin.  I hope this is helpful.
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens on Saturday and in the aftermath.


Blogger Brian H said...

I agree with the teacher. The "One China" policy is a cop-out and a crock, and always has been. It's been sort of convenient, in a twisted kind of way, but it's based on mutual pretenses.

If fear of Chinese freak-out rules policy in Taipei and Washington, there can be no winning.

December 9, 2004 at 9:07 PM  
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