Tibet, Taiwan & Beijing
By Jin Zhong
March is a good time for outings, but what this year’s March has brought us goes far beyond this. It offered a string of unexpected political shows on the stages of Tibet, Taiwan and Beijing, starring the Dalai Lama and Ma Ying-jeou in a new performance of “Cross-straits Tri-regional Relations”.
In memory of the “Tibetan Uprising” on March 10, 1959, when Dalai Lama escaped to India, Tibetans in Tibet and the Tibetan regions of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu have launched a series of large-scale protests and demonstrations. Tibetan protesters who displayed the flag of Tibet while calling for Tibetan independence and crying out “long live the Dalai Lama!” were stopped and suppressed by the military police, and the protests soon developed into riots and bloodshed that shocked the whole world, spurring a global movement in support of Tibet and underlining doubts people have had about the appropriateness of Beijing hosting the Olympic games. Wen Jia-bao reacted to the threat in the same old way of the Mao Zedong era, seeing any kind of unrest as a plot by “public enemies.” He lied to the public and slandered the Dalai Lama, arousing an even fiercer reaction from protesters. Even Ma Ying-jeou from Taiwan’s “blue” camp denounced Wen as “arbitrary, unreasonable, arrogant and stupid.”
? ?The cruel and muddleheaded actions of the PRC authorities helped Ma Ying-jeou create an astonishing victory in the presidential election, garnering 2.2 million votes more than Frank Hsieh Chang-ting. Contrary to expectations, support for Tibet did not help the DPP in the election. It is a strange phenomenon resulting from the China factor in Taiwan’s elections. Cross-straits relations have long provided the backdrop for democratic progress in Taiwan. Although the economy was the focus of the Ma-Hsieh debates, “cross-straits policy” remained the first topic for discussion for both camps. The smooth progress of the election and the civilized handover of power between the two parties also won praise for Taiwan’s “mature democracy.” Less remarked upon was the maturity Taiwan reached this time in the China policies of both parties. Ma stated a clear political platform: “Taiwan’s future is decided by Taiwan people,” “no talks on unification during his term,” “defending Taiwan’s subjectivity,” “promoting Taiwan’s return to the UN”… Don’t these all run counter to the long-standing “anti-Taiwan independence” stance of the PRC?
At least a few million local voters cast doubts on Ma’s statement about Taiwan’s subjectivity. Was this merely a tactic to win votes? Will he change once he takes office? With the increasing power of the KMT, its strict rules, deep-rooted “Greater China” mentality and interests that increasingly coincide with Beijing’s, Ma may find himself restricted by the Party. Will he be controlled by the Party and lose his authority? Moreover, Ma grew up under Confucian tradition, which is at variance with the cultural foundation to which Taiwan’s subjective values are attached. For that reason, winning unprecedented support from Taiwan’s central and southern region is still just the beginning for Ma.
The PRC has its tactics for unification. Once Ma Ying-jeou was declared Taiwan’s president elect, the PRC changed its core statement that “the PRC is the only legal government representing China” to “the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China,” leading some people to think that the PRC was yielding ground. Meanwhile, Hu Jin-tao responded to Ma concerning the 1992 Consensus, stating that direct cross-straits transportation “may be implemented tomorrow.” The PRC will probably give even more such favors to Ma in an obvious attempt to turn him from his more objectionable ideas.
From the United States to Taiwan, people are calling for “change.” Only the stubborn “Chinese Dynasty” is looking for “stability and harmony.” As Dr. Sun Yat-sen said, “World trends are powerful; those who follow them will prosper, while those who go against them will lose.” Beijing government should seriously reconsider Dr. Sun’s words.
31st March, 2008 in Hong Kong
(Translated by Isabella Lam)