New dimension to Taiwanese politics - GulfToday

New dimension to Taiwanese politics

Illustrative image.

Illustrative image.

The Taiwanese parliament on Tuesday passed a law which increased parliament’s oversight over military, corporations and individuals, and the president is obliged to answer questions from parliament.

The Bill has been passed by Kuomintang (KMT), which was the first party that ruled the island-state when its leader Chiang Kai-Shek fled the mainland after the communist takeover in 1949. And Kuomintang remained in power without holding elections. It is supported by the smaller Taiwan People’s Party, as they have the majority in the legislature.

The Democratic Progressive Party’s Lai Ching-te had won the presidential election in January, and it is his party that runs the executive, and therefore it is the government. Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party are in opposition though they have the parliamentary majority. It is the American form of presidential government that Taiwan follows, where the legislature and executive are independent of each other.

While this is the constitutional position, the political twist in the story is that while the DPP stands up for an independent Taiwan and it is ready to talk to the Beijing government, Kuomintang, which was originally opposed to the communists, is now keen to negotiate with the Chinese authorities. The reform Bill is seen as a dictatorial oversight of life in Taiwan. Kuomintang says that DPP is trying to paint it “red” (communist), and wants to avoid probe into its corruption cases. The DPP says that the reform law was passed without proper consultation. The Chinese are vehemently opposed to any party or government in Taiwan which speaks of independence of Taiwan, and therefore they are opposed to the election of DPP’s Lai Ching-te.

It is learnt that Kuomintang leaders had been flying to Beijing to hold talks with the officials. It is indeed a matter of speculation as to what Kuomintang’s approach to Beijing and the issue of Taiwan’s independence will be as opposed to the clearly stated opposition to China and its advocacy for an independent Taiwan. There is also the question whether the communist leaders in Beijing would trust the original political fugitives, Chiang-Kai Shek’s Kuomintang.

The United States recognising Taiwan as the real China was due to its closeness to Chiang Kai-Shek. The US changed its stance in 1972 when the then American president, Richard Nixon, had visited Beijing and shook hands with the communist leader of China, Mao Zedong. But America did not abandon Taiwan, and China continued to insist that Taiwan is Chinese territory. The China-America sparring over Taiwan continues, sometimes threatening to break into a bigger conflagration between the two big economic superpowers.

Meanwhile, the democracy sentiment inside Taiwan is growing strong, and this sentiment fuels the desire of the Taiwanese to remain free and independent. China’s communist leaders are looking to a negotiated settlement where Taiwan will retain its autonomy, something on the lines of Hong Kong when it became a part of China after the end of the 99-year lease of the island to the Britain ended, and the control reverted to China.

China had then worked out a One Country, Two Systems solution. The expectation for a long time has been that a similar compromise would be worked out between China and Taiwan. But with the hardening of stance of Beijing in Hong Kong, and its stance towards Taiwan in the face of Western sabre rattling, ideal compromise formulas look unlikely.

So, Taiwan is one of the hotspots of global politics. The US and Europe would have a tough time reconciling to any peremptory action by China. The one inhibiting factor on both sides is that both China and the West understand the economic importance of one to the other. China would not want to lose the Western markets, and the West does not want to lose the advantage of a cheap shop floor of the world that China has become.


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