Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Zhang’s visit exposes all parties’ weaknesses: forum

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Neither the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nor Beijing came out as a winner in the just-concluded visit of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), panelists said in a symposium in Taipei yesterday.

Reviewing the first visit by a Chinese minister to Taiwan in more than six decades, which was dogged by protests during its four days, panelists told the forum organized by the pro-independence Taiwan Brain Trust that the trip was only a “publicity drive” for Zhang, with the Taiwanese government sidelined.

While Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and Zhang reportedly had reached consensus on humanitarian visits after the establishment of representative offices across the Taiwan Strait, as well as on a joint-study for Taiwan’s participation in regional economic integration during their meeting, public attention was mostly focused on the protests, which eventually forced the TAO and the MAC to cancel three events on Zhang’s last day in Taiwan.

“It was intriguing that both sides did not vigorously promote the results, which made it seem to me that there was no substantial agenda for the meeting in the first place,” said Tung Li-wen (董立文), a professor at the Central Police University’s Graduate School of Public Security.

The role of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration during the trip was diminished and whether it could deliver on their agreement, remained a question, Tung said.

With regards to Beijing, Tung said the cancellation of almost the entire itinerary on Saturday was “the biggest setback,” as it showed Beijing’s fragility in bilateral engagement and inspired the protesters that their demonstrations had been a success.

However, the negative outcome of the visit for the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party did not benefit the DPP, said TBT founder Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), a senior Taiwan independence advocate.

There was no problem with the DPP welcoming Zhang’s visit, since the institutionalization of official bilateral dialogue is recognized by all parties, but the DPP failed to clearly and strongly express its opposition to Beijing’s recent remarks about Taiwan’s future, Koo said.

TAO spokesperson Fan Liqing’s (范麗青) recent comment that Taiwan’s future should be decided by “all Chinese people” has drawn strong opposition in Taiwan.

“It begged the question why Zhang insisted on visiting Taiwan at this moment because [his visit] would only create more problems than positive results,” Koo said.

He said he was “even surprised” at Beijing’s insistence on sending Zhang to Taiwan right after the controversial remarks because that was considered a provocative move by many Taiwanese.

The Sunflower movement and the recent protests showed that Beijing has failed in its intelligence gathering in Taiwan because it did not have a clue what was on the minds of Taiwanese, Koo said.

“Perhaps that was because all the TAO said in its reports to the Zhongnanhai during the past 30 years was how successful its Taiwan campaign has been and that everything was under control,” Koo said.