Strategic immaturity annihilates DPP’s rule

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/25 22:28:40

Only two years after it took power from the Kuomintang, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was given a heavy blow in the just concluded local elections, losing most of the major cities. Facing a public backlash against her governing policy, Tsai Ing-wen, head of the DPP, announced her resignation as chairwoman. Her re-election for a second term as the Taiwan leader also becomes improbable.

Probably for boosting morale, the DPP continued the tough rhetoric after the election defeat, demanding the mainland not interfere in the island’s affairs. Washington praised Taiwan for "demonstrating the strength of their vibrant democratic system through a successful round of elections," though the election result completely disappointed Washington’s expectations.

Political theater and instigation of confrontations used to be the DPP's turf. Tsai played hardball to contain her major opponent by freezing the Kuomintang's bank account in the name of an asset investigation. On the global stage, the US has shifted to a hawkish China policy by roping in Taiwan as a bargaining chip. It threatened the countries that decided to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and condemned the mainland for interference in Taiwan's elections.

Before the elections, Tsai and her party seemed to have secured a competitive position, but they still suffered major defeat.

Even with the Kuomintang's decline and Washington's support, the DPP still failed because it lost the people's support. After taking office in 2016, Tsai refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus, a cornerstone agreement that stabilized the cross-Straits ties. The mainland and Taiwan, despite the progress they had made in the previous eight years, were reduced to tensions and confrontations.

The DPP's defeat of the Kuomintang in 2016 was generated by the constituencies' hope to better address social and economic problems, which the Kuomintang had failed to do in its last days of rule. However, the DPP misread the will of the Taiwan people, thinking its desinicization philosophy had gained popularity among the people. Guided by misunderstanding, the DPP paid a lot of attention to raising conflicts with the mainland, campaigning for independence culturally and implicitly.

The Chinese mainland is the most powerful engine for global economic growth. However, despite Taiwan's proximity to the mainland, Tsai hoped she could shake Taiwan out from the mainland's economic orbit. She came up with the New Southbound Policy to woo Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia. However, countries in these regions are all intensifying economic cooperation with China. Tsai's mainland policy has caused a series of political conflicts, which in the end have rattled Taiwan's market and created many uncertainties.

Non-intervention in the Taiwan elections has always been the mainland's policy. But the mainland has been increasingly influential to Taiwan because of its rapid economic growth. Confronting the mainland will be a tough task for Taiwan. Wooing the US to counter the mainland is also a delusion. Either way, confrontations will lead to nothing but a dead end.

Tsai and her party have failed to have a clear vision of the world and Taiwan's real position in the Asia-Pacific political structure. Strategic immaturity and reckless decision-making will probably annihilate their hard-won ruling opportunity.

Radical thinking and paranoia that permeates the green camp have misguided the DPP. The party needs to reflect on this failure and make an about-face on its stance in the cross-Straits ties.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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