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Hsieh's China trip 'successful, but not rewarding'

Publication Date : 10-10-2012


Frank Hsieh, the unsuccessful standard bearer of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2008 presidential election against Ma Ying-jeou, has made his long-wished-for “Journey to the West” to prove he isn't an incorrigible Taiwan independence bigot cum China-hater. The trip was successful, but not rewarding.

It's the second visit the former chairman of the DPP and ex-premier has made to China. He visited Amoy and Beijing 18 years ago while he was a member of the Legislative Yuan. At that time, he wasn't even a heavyweight, and the Chinese paid little attention to his being an independence-minded China hater.

This time around, however, Hsieh was welcomed as a defector of sorts from the pro-independence opposition party, and that's the reason why quite a number of party leaders are adamantly opposed to what he calls his five-day “trailblazing tour” of China.

Officially, he visited Beijing as a guest of the International Bartenders Association to attend its World Cocktail Championship, albeit he professed he would try to break the ice frozen over the relationship between his party and the Chinese Communist Party, which has ruled mainland China for 63 years. Despite the courteous welcome given him in Amoy and Beijing, he couldn't blaze the trail for his party for any meaningful dialogue with China's ruling party.

But that is not Hsieh's fault. For one thing, he is passe, while still entertaining a hope to run for president again, though he has declared retirement from politics. For another, the DPP can't begin dialogue with the Chinese communists unless it amends its “independence” party charter — and it's impossible to amend it in any foreseeable future.

While in China, Hsieh crowed over his “one China under the constitution” doctrine, which is virtually the same as the “1992 Consensus,” and therefore was thrown into the dustbin in 2008.

The “consensus” is an unsigned pact reached in that year, under which Taipei and Beijing are agreed there is but one China, though its connotations can be orally and independently explained. It helped bring about a brief detente between Taiwan and China in the second half decade of the last century and has given a legal basis for nonpolitical exchanges between them to greatly improve their relations in the past four years.

Hsieh tried to sell his doctrine by calling for an end to a modus vivendi and a start for the “liberation of souls,” that means both parties have to be free from their respective collective mindset to solve the Taiwan question. The trouble is that neither of the parties is capable of liberating its soul. The Chinese want to reunify Taiwan and the DPP can't give up Taiwan independence for it needs the votes of independence activists and China haters.

But why should the Chinese care about the political has-been of Taiwan's opposition party? They want to extend good will to the party that is likely to come back to power in 2016. They do and will continue to do so, not because it may give up its call for independence but because they don't want additional trouble across the Taiwan Strait in the four years after 2016.

Beijing knows it might take a long, long time to achieve a Chinese reunification, but is convinced at the same time that Taiwan will surrender in the end. The Chinese communists know Taiwan is like the Monkey King in “The Journey to the West”.

The Monkey King couldn't get out of the palm of Lord Buddha, even by doing his “cloud-somersault” which enabled him to travel 108,000 li (33,554 miles) in a single flip.

Hsieh's can't be compared to the “Journey of Peace” that Lien Chan made in 2005 in his capacity as chairman of the Kuomintang, which was then in opposition. Lien made the successful and rewarding trip to ease the tensions mounting between Taiwan and China following Beijing's legislation of the “Anti-Secession Law” in retaliation against President Chen Shui-bian's virtual abolition of the National Unification Council and the Guidelines for National Unification, which he promised on his inaugurations in 2000 and 2004 not to abolish.

Chen, who is now doing time for corruption and graft, skillfully made the council cease to function and the guidelines cease to apply.

Incidentally, both Chen and Hsieh were stars of the DPP who graduated from the prestigious law school of National Taiwan University.


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