Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where Tsai Ing-wen should not go [UPDATED]

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced yesterday that its chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), would embark on a three-day visit to the US today. Her schedule includes a speech at her alma mater, Cornell University, and meetings with representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties. While in Washington, Tsai will also be paying a visit to the Heritage Foundation.

The Heritage Foundation is part of a small circle of right-wing conservative US think tanks that includes the Project for a New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute, all of which are connected, financially and ideologically, to the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Richard Pearle, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, and serve the interests of big oil, the US defense industry, and US hegemony, while restlessly attacking multilateralism and the UN. (Among other things, the Heritage Foundation supported the Contras in Nicaragua and sees former US president Ronald Reagan as something akin to the Second Coming. It is also part of the same circle that advocated war in Iraq and would welcome one against Iran.)

Sadly for Taiwan, for historical reasons the majority of its allies or supporters in the US have come from that side of the establishment, likely a leftover of the US military’s close ties to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government under Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) during the Cold War. As I have written before, the repercussion of this unholy alliance, or Faustian deal, for Taiwan is that it gives credence to Beijing’s contention that Washington supports Taiwan not because it believes in its sovereign right to exist as a democratic nation, but rather because Taiwan (much like Georgia, come to think of it) serves Washington's purpose in its strategy to encircle China and perpetuate US empire. By failing to establish strong links with the other side of the US establishment — or other countries — Taiwan has put itself into a straightjacket, with only two options to choose from: (a) support from right-wing US conservatives whose institutional reasons for supporting Taiwan are less than honorable (allowing, in all fairness, for a few individual exceptions) and have far more to do with maintaining or strengthening US hegemony; or (b) find itself defenseless and in no position to stand up to China.

This is doubly ironic as the DPP, a party that advocates democracy and freedom and which is rooted in the long struggle against tyranny, willingly continues to seek help and advice from the Heritage Foundation and its likes, as Tsai’s visit this week demonstrates. By embracing the conservative establishment so early in her tenure as chairwoman, Tsai will be giving ammunition to those in China who, rightly or wrongly, see the DPP not as a voice for Taiwanese freedom, but rather as an instrument, or an outpost, of US empire, much like the “democracies,” like Israel, that Washington arms and protects.

UPDATE: It is unfortunate that Tsai currently finds herself in the US, as President Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) has basically admitted he will not be able to deliver on any of his “6-3-3” economic goals — annual 6 percent GDP growth, average national per capita income of US$30,000 by 2016 and less than 3 percent unemployment — anytime soon. In fact, he said he would need eight years — or two terms, which he assumes he will get — to realize those objectives.

Tsai and the DPP leadership should be screaming murder right now and leading Taiwanese into opposition to the KMT’s policy of deception.

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