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接受《經濟學人》專訪 馬英九笑咪咪

2014年03月27日11:06  

服貿爭議繼續延燒,總統馬英九昨日接受《經濟學人》專訪,解釋服貿協議讓學生引發爭議的原因。

馬英九說,在台灣涉及兩岸事務,都會引發爭議。服貿爭議,主要是外界對服貿協議有些誤會,認為審查過程完全沒公開,事實上,一年多來,政府已與46種產業舉辦110次協商,相關部會也向立法院報告過3次,但反對人士總認為該協議將帶給臺灣很大危機或影響臺灣國家安全,但這些都不是事實。在臺灣,任何涉及兩岸關係的事務多少都會引發一些爭議,因為臺灣內部對於臺灣與大陸要發展何種關係,到現在為止,都還沒有很大共識。

馬英九也強調,服貿協議不會開放大陸勞工,如果中國企業涉及到台灣國家安全,可以做出限制,「不對等」也不是事實。這次會發生問題,是因為在立法院審議過程中所引發的爭議,兩黨不斷爭議的結果。對於要如何解決爭議,馬總統說,「我認為審查上的爭議應透過國會內部協議機制解決,這樣就會使得它按照原先構想進行」。 

記者問及如何消除民眾疑慮,馬英九說,立委提及逐條審議,「我們也贊成,只不過這個案子,進行的公聽會前後將近4個多月,時間耽誤了很久。各方都很擔心,會引起國際間的質疑,所以希望能夠加速」。(施旖婕/綜合報導)

馬英九接受《經濟學人》專訪。翻自畫面

 

http://watchout.tw/

【On the antlers of a dilemma】
The ambitions of Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s president, collide with popular suspicion of China

【騎角難下】
台灣總統馬英九的雄心正與多數人民對中國的疑慮正面對撞


THE fresh-faced good looks have been lined and drawn by the cares of office. His immaculate English is forsaken for the dignity of immaculate Mandarin. Patient replies to questions come wearily, as if said many times before. Yet, six years into his presidency, Ma Ying-jeou’s hair remains as lush and jet-black as any Chinese Politburo member’s. And, speaking in the presidential palace in Taipei, he remains as unwilling as any leader in Beijing to admit to any fundamental flaws in strategy.

他的形象由府方打點得十分體面。他流利地說著無懈可擊的中文,為了符合其治理國家的正當性,雖然他過去其實流利地說著無懈可擊的英文。他對問題總是耐心回答,但他的回答卻令人厭煩,因為他總是再三重複著一樣的說詞。然而,如同中南海的中國政府掌權人,任期進入第六年的馬英九總統,油頭依然晶亮、烏黑。同時,如同北京當局的任何一位領導人,當馬總統在總統府發言時,依然不願意承認領導策略有根本性的缺失。

Perhaps Mr Ma draws inspiration from his portrait of Sun Yat-sen, founder of his ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and, in 1912, of the Republic of China to which Taiwan’s government still owes its name. Sun is revered as a nationalist hero not just by the KMT but, across the Taiwan Strait, by the Chinese Communist Party too. Mr Ma may also hope to be feted on both sides of the strait—in his case as a leader responsible for a historic rapprochement. For now, however, reconciliation between Taiwan and China remains distant. And Mr Ma, once the KMT’s most popular politician, is taunted by opponents as the “9% president”, a reference to his approval ratings in opinion polls last autumn.

也許,馬先生是以個人所屬政黨「中國國民黨」的創辦人,也是「中華民國」這個1912創立的國家其建國元首-孫逸仙為榜樣。(台灣政府至今仍使用此國號)孫先生不只被國民黨視為國家英雄,在台灣海峽的另一邊,中國共產黨也是如此看待他。馬先生可能也希望以「歷史性和解之領導人」這樣的形象,被兩岸共同簇擁。然而,在此刻,台灣與中國間的和解依然有很長的路要走。而一度是國民黨最受歡迎政治人物的馬先生,被反對派冠上「9趴總統」的綽號,嘲諷他去年秋季的民調之低。

Improving relations with China has been the central theme of his administration, after the tensions of eight years of rule by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which leans towards declaring formal independence from the mainland. Mr Ma can boast of 21 agreements signed with China. He reels off the numbers of two fast-integrating economies: a tenfold increase in six years in mainland tourists to Taiwan, to 2.85m in 2013; cross-strait flights from none at all to 118 every day; two-way trade, including with Hong Kong, up to $160 billion a year.

在民進黨八年執政時的緊繃,「台獨」傾向明顯的政策方向之後,「促進對中國關係」一直是他施政的主軸。馬先生誇耀自己與中國簽署的21項協約。他大談傲人數據;大陸來台觀光人口數在六年內成長十倍,2013年來到285萬人次;兩岸直航班級從無到每日118班次;雙邊貿易(含香港部分)來到每年1600億美元。

China’s strategy to reabsorb Taiwan is plain. As the island’s economy becomes more intertwined with that of the vast mainland, China thinks, resistance to unification will wane. Then Taiwan becomes an “autonomous” part of China—like Hong Kong, though allowed its own army. Taiwan will return to the motherland without resort to the missiles and increasingly powerful armed forces ranged against it. But as Mr Ma sees it, cross-strait “rapprochement” is a first line of defence against Chinese aggression, since “a unilateral move by the mainland to change the status quo by non-peaceful means would come at a dear price”. Politics in Taiwan is framed as a debate about independence or unification but is really about preserving the status quo.

中國「再接納」台灣的策略十分簡單明白。中國想的是,當這個島上的經濟活動與對岸日趨緊密,對統一的抗拒將會日益微弱。屆時,像香港一樣,即使擁有自己的軍隊,台灣也會成為中國的一個「自治區」。無須訴諸飛彈、與日俱增的武力,台灣就會重回「祖國懷抱」。但是,在馬先生看來,因為「中國方面將為任何單方面、非和平方式、意圖改變現狀的舉動,付出鉅額代價」,兩岸的「和解」成了台灣對抗中國侵略的第一道防線。台灣的政治,與其說是「統獨之爭」,其實本質上是「是否維持現狀之爭」。

The next step in rapprochement with China would be a meeting between political leaders. In February in Nanjing, once the capital of a KMT government of all China, ministers from China and Taiwan held their first formal meeting since 1949. Mr Ma hoped to meet China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing this November, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit. To accommodate Hong Kong and Taiwan, APEC’s members are not “countries” but “economies”. So Mr Xi and Mr Ma could meet as “economic leaders”, sidestepping the tricky protocol that usually dogs relations, with China viewing Taiwan as a mere province. The Chinese demurred. But Mr Ma thinks a meeting somewhere is “not outside the realm of possibility”.

兩岸和解的下一步,會是政治領袖的會面。今年的二月,在南京(國民黨政權仍統治中國時的首都),中國與台灣官員自1949年(兩岸分治)以來首次舉行正式會談。馬先生希望在十一月的「APEC=亞太經合會」中,與中國最高領導人習近平在北京會面。為了納入香港、台灣,APEC成員不是「國家」,而是「經濟體」。所以習先生與馬先生可用「經濟體領導人」的身分見面,將扯後腿的繁文縟節放在一旁。(因為中國視台灣為一個省分)中國反對此構想。但是,馬先生認為在其他場合會面「不是不可能」。

This backdrop explains why a protest movement against a services-trade agreement with the mainland is more than a little local difficulty for Mr Ma. Students occupying parliament have resorted to undemocratic means, and many of the arguments they and the DPP make about the trade agreement are specious. But they have tapped a vein of popular mistrust of Mr Ma and of economic integration with the mainland. A split persists between native Taiwanese, on the island for generations, and mainlanders, like Mr Ma, whose families came over as the KMT lost the civil war in the 1940s. Protesters portray Mr Ma as either a mainland stooge or as clueless and out of touch. In the occupied parliament, student caricatures give him antlers, a reference to a slip he once made when he appeared to suggest that the deer-antlers used in Chinese medicine were in fact hair from the animal’s ears.

以上背景說明了,
為何對馬先生來說,此時反對「服務貿易協定」抗議行動,並非「島內小問題」。學生佔領國會已屬非民主行為,許多學生與民進黨對「服務貿易協定」提出的質疑也僅「貌似合理」。但是,他們觸動了普羅大眾對馬先生的不信任,及對「與中國經貿整合」的不信任。台灣存在著極大的分歧,一方是數代以來生長在台灣的「本省族群」;另一方是1940年代隨著國民黨於內戰中失利後來台的「外省族群」,如同馬先生一樣。抗議者認為馬先生要不是甘心作中國的傀儡,就是他毫無頭緒,與人民想法脫節。在被佔據的國會議場中,學生在馬先生的肖像上添了對「鹿角」,因他在談話中一時不察,將中藥的鹿茸認做「鹿耳朵裡面的毛」。

Mr Ma says public opinion supports a “Ma-Xi” summit. Joseph Wu of the DPP, however, claims such a meeting would actually damage the KMT in the next presidential election, due in 2016; rather, he says, Mr Ma is trying to leave a personal legacy. The DPP’s lead in the polls alarms not just the Chinese government but also America, which could do without another flare-up in a dangerous region. The stronger China grows, the more Taiwan’s security depends on commitments from America. It switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979, but Congress then passed a law obliging it to help Taiwan defend itself.

馬先生稱人民支持「馬習會」。然而,民進黨駐美代表吳釗燮(Joseph Wu)指出,這樣的會面實際上會打擊國民黨2016總統大選的勝算,馬先生是想留下「個人歷史定位」。民進黨在民調中的領先,不只是給中國政府的一個警訊,其實對美國來說也是,因為此刻美國承受不起在另一個情勢緊張區域的一點星星之火。中國若繼續壯大,台灣的安全將更仰賴美國對保護台灣安全的承諾。美國在1979年時與北京領導政權建交,在外交戰略上換邊支持;但是美國國會之後也通過法案,約束美國須幫助台灣維持其安全。

All political lives end…

所有政治人物終將鞠躬下台…


Mr Ma says relations with America are better than they have ever been at least since 1979 and perhaps before. Others are doubtful. In all the talk of America’s “pivot” to Asia, its promises to Taiwan are rarely mentioned. Many in Taiwan paid attention when John Mearsheimer, an American academic, suggested in the National Interest, a policy journal, that there is “a reasonable chance American policymakers will eventually conclude that it makes good strategic sense to abandon Taiwan and to allow China to coerce it into accepting unification.” For some, abandonment is a fact of life and unification a matter of time. “No one is on our side strategically, diplomatically, politically; we have to count on China’s goodwill,” an academic in Taipei argues.

馬先生表示台美關係是史上最好,至少自1979年來是最好,甚至可以再往前算。其他人則存疑。當談到美國在亞洲的許多戰略樞紐,美國對台灣的承諾鮮少被提起。當美國學者John Mearsheimer在關於美國國家政策期刊「National Interest」撰文表示「有相當程度的可能性,美國政府的決策者最終會得『戰略上來說,放棄干預使中國得以強迫台灣接受統一,是非常有道理的』,這樣的結論」,此番論述引來許多台灣人關切。對某些美國學者而言,美國最終放棄干預兩岸事務是不可避免的,台灣被統一也只是時間的問題。一位台北的學者指出,「不管在戰略上,外交上或政治上,都沒有人站在台灣這邊。我們必須仰賴中國的善意。」

Mr Ma has tried to steer what seems a sensible middle course between such defeatism and the adventurism of those in the DPP who would like to confront and challenge China. But he sounds weary with the effort, and Taiwan’s people seem weary of him. Their pragmatism and the DPP’s internecine strife may yet see them elect another KMT president in 2016. But if Mr Ma hoped to leave office with cross-strait relations stabilised, and with his own role as an historic peacemaker recognised on both sides and around the world, he seems likely to be disappointed.

馬先生試圖在上述的失敗主義與某些激進民進黨份子的提案中(面對並挑戰中國)取得一個合理的折衷之道。但是,他聽起來聲嘶力竭,而台灣人民似乎對他感到厭倦。台灣人務實的天性,加上民進黨內部相互的派系鬥爭,在2016年可能還是會由國民黨籍總統出線。但是,如果馬先生希望當他卸下總統職務時,兩岸關係和諧穩定、他個人被兩地甚至是全球奉為「功在兩岸」的歷史性人物,看來,他可能會失望。



 

經濟學人論馬:老調重彈答非所問
 
 
經濟學人論馬:老調重彈答非所問
身陷鹿茸困境的馬英九,暴露其個人政治生涯的最大危機(圖片來源:網路圖片翻攝)

鹿茸(雄鹿初生的鹿角)中醫視為具有實質的滋補功效,一旦淪為馬英九眼中的鹿耳毛,已變得一文不值。這個錯置現象,直指一項問題核心,即馬英九的現實世界與台灣庶民之間,存在難以跨越的鴻溝;鹿茸事件也讓人民看到馬英九的現實世界,憑藉幻象堆砌構築;充滿茸茸鹿耳毛,看不出鹿角堅實質地。

3月29日甫推出的《英國經濟學人》(The Economist),在「榕園論壇」(Banyan)文章中,即提出類似觀點,大加調侃馬英九。評論內容指出,馬英九極其重視外在觀感,他的光鮮可人臉蛋,其一筆一劃,皆出自於長期公職生涯的照料呵護。6年的總統任期,讓他的髮絲依舊茂密、烏溜溜,如此尊貴模樣,儼然讓人聯想他也是中國中央政治局領導階層的一員。

該評論也指出,馬英九回答問題方式,出其怪異,看似耐性回覆他人提問,卻一再老調重談,答非所問。這位台灣的領導者,也跟北京領導人同一模樣,毫不願意承認政府施政的基本立場及策略上,有所任何瑕疵;當然,馬英九也跟中國領導高層般,有著烏溜溜的秀髮,梳得油油亮亮。

除了外表善於梳理自我修飾之外,《英國經濟學人》也指出,馬英九的內在世界也援引孫中山為榜樣。孫中山是國民黨的創設者,也在中國被視為民族英雄,馬英九一心將孫中山視為精神導師,希望有朝一日也能同樣名垂青史,揚名立萬。該分評論也指出,馬英九的另一個內在使命,希望在其總統任內,達成海峽雙方的歷史性和解,如此,他就能像孫中山一樣在兩邊都能獲得推崇、仰望。

對於馬英九想藉今年11月假北京召開的亞太經合會APEC,與中國國家主席習近平會面的「鹿耳毛構想」,《經濟學人》也給予潑泠水,認為機會相當渺茫。分析中指出,根據外交禮節,台灣與中國,在中共眼中是人狗關係(Dog Relations)或譯為國王對臣下關係,因為台灣只會是中國附庸下的一個省,馬習會難成局。

《英國經濟學人》分析指出,中國一再吸盡(Reabsorb)台灣趨勢,已經清清楚楚。馬英九似乎有意加速此一發展路線,因為台灣經濟早已跟強大的中國交織為一體,中國也認為,抵抗統一的力量終將消蝕。屆時,台灣將成為中國自治區的一份子,就如香港一般,僅管台灣還可以繼續保有自己的軍隊。從馬英九一派輕鬆自在的鹿耳毛觀點,台灣回歸中國母親懷抱之後,中國就不會再用導彈以及強大武力對付台灣人了。

台灣人所關心的不是馬英九所言的茸茸鹿耳毛,而是具有實質意義的國家安全與未來,此為「318太陽花學運」反黑箱服貿崛起的原因。網路上,署名Hsr123(一位好女孩部落格),發表評論指出,台灣人不必在乎韓國以及其它國家所簽署的貿易協定,如何如何加以類比,重點在於把台灣安全擺在第一位;然而馬英九處理服貿議題做法,卻將其個人利益,高置於台灣未來前途之上;先跟中國簽好了,再找立法院強行背書。

《經濟學人》評抗爭:馬進退兩難的兩岸政策  

 

反服貿能量快速蓄積,明天就要上凱道,馬英九總統的兩岸政策路線面臨嚴峻挑戰,《經濟學人》以一個人掛在鹿茸上的圖,描述馬總統的兩岸政策陷入進退兩難。
圖/摘自經濟學人

 

被學生占據十一天的立法院,議場內一直掛著學生繪製長出鹿茸的馬總統海報。
記者陳柏亨攝
最新一期《經濟學人》雜誌以「進退兩難」(On the antlers of a dilemma)為題,評論台灣的反服貿抗議,指出台灣民眾將對馬英九的不信任與兩岸的經濟整合掛鉤。馬英九試圖在失敗主義和民進黨的冒進主義之間,為穩定兩岸關係營造一條中間路線。但他的雄心和民眾普遍對北京政權的疑心相衝突,恐怕會使他無法如願。

英文俚語on the horns of a dilemma意指必須在兩個同樣惹人厭的選項中做抉擇,《經濟學人》將horns換成antlers(鹿茸),有意消遣馬總統日前引起的爭議。

雜誌描述,馬英九擔任六年總統後,頭髮依然烏亮濃密,但原本清新俊朗的面容上已留下了宵旰從公的痕跡。他不厭其煩地回答一些一再被提起的老問題,且從不承認他在戰略上有任何根本性的瑕疵。

《經濟學人》指出,或許受到在兩岸都受到推崇的孫中山啟發,馬英九希望能藉由達成兩岸間的歷史性交往,而為兩岸民眾所喜愛。改善兩岸關係,一直是馬英九的施政核心。他就任後兩岸已簽署廿一項協定,六年來陸客來台人數增加十倍,去年達到二百八十五萬人次;兩岸客機直航從沒有到如今的每天一百一十八班;雙邊貿易額(包括香港)達到一年一千六百億美元。這些都令馬英九引以自豪。下一步則是推動「馬習會」。

《經濟學人》指出,學生以非民主的手段占領立法院,學生及民進黨對「服貿」的主張也多屬似是而非。但他們利用民眾對馬的不信任與省籍情結反對兩岸經濟整合。抗議民眾稱馬英九為中國的走狗,或批評他狀況外且昧於現實。學生們在馬英九漫畫肖像的頭上加了鹿茸,譏諷他把鹿茸誤指為鹿耳內的細毛。

經濟學人強調,民進黨民調領先,對大陸當局是一大警訊,對美國亦然。大陸越強,台灣的安全就越依賴美國的承諾。但美國針對「轉向亞洲」戰略的所有談話中,很少提到對台灣的承諾。

被視為美國現實主義派大師的芝加哥大學教授米爾帥摩在《國家利益》期刊發表文章,指出「美國決策者有合理的可能,終將認定放棄台灣,並容許中國迫使台灣接受統一,在戰略上相當合理」。對某些人來說,統一只是時間問題。台北有學者告訴經濟學人:「戰略上、外交上、政治上,沒有人站在台灣這一邊,我們必須仰賴中國的善意。」

《經濟學人》在結論中指出,馬英九試圖在此種失敗主義,及民進黨對抗並挑戰中國的冒進主義之間,營造出一條合理的中間路線。但他對自己的努力似乎已有些疲倦,而台灣民眾似乎也厭倦了他。

民眾的務實主義加上民進黨內鬥,或許會使二○一六年的總統又是國民黨人。但馬英九希望在卸任時能有穩定的兩岸關係,留下兩岸與全世界肯定的歷史地位,恐怕要失望收場了。

說文解字:on the antlersof a dilemma

獸類的犄角(horn)通常十分堅硬,最好能避則避。英文俚語on the horns of a dilemma從字面上就可看出處在犄角上,想必是進退兩難。牛津、劍橋、韋氏等大字典對此俚語的解釋,都是說必須在兩個可能都會有同樣不利後果的選項中做抉擇。《經濟學人》將俚語中的horns換成antlers(鹿角、鹿茸),一方面是呼應馬總統日前引起的爭議;另一方面,鹿角(茸)有多個分叉,比單純的牛角或羊角更複雜棘手,處境也更為進退失據。 (編譯組)

【2014/03/29 聯合報】



全文網址: 《經濟學人》評抗爭:馬進退兩難的兩岸政策 | 服貿爭議求解套 | 國內要聞 | 聯合新聞網 http://udn.com/NEWS/NATIONAL/NATS2/8578874.shtml#ixzz2xJw8sE35 
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《經濟學人》再評馬英九 「困境中的鹿茸」

2014年03月28日08:50  
 

太陽花學運持續受到國外媒體關注,而英國《經濟學人》除了日前訪問總統馬英九,在最新一期出刊的雜誌中,更對台灣的太陽花學運及馬英九,共撰寫了1篇報導和1篇評論,可見太陽花學運對於服貿爭議的波瀾,已讓《經濟學人》看重。

《經濟學人》在「榕園論壇」(Banyan)中以《困境中的鹿茸》評論馬英九及太陽花學運,文章一開始就以諷刺手法,形容馬英九已經當了6年總統,頭髮依舊如中國領導高層般,梳得油油亮亮,「但他也如同北京的高層般,不願意承認在策略上有所錯誤」。文中也提及,馬英九雖然極力想在兩岸關係上留下歷史定位,但他現在被反對者揶揄是「9%總統」,甚至被學生形容為「馬卡茸」。

此外,文章也認為,中國想要利用策略來「吸收」台灣,是很明顯的一件事。中國當局知道,台灣在經濟依存度上越來越倚靠中國,而且不需靠武力,就能「收復」台灣,並希望台灣未來能像香港一樣,成為中國的自治區。但馬英九的想法認為,發展兩岸和諧關係反而是抵抗中國侵略的第一條防線,台灣國內有許多關於獨立和統一的爭論,但實際上都是想維持兩岸關係的現狀。

另一篇文章《操控著貿易障礙》當中,則多著墨太陽花學運對政府和社會的影響,指馬英九現在聲勢低迷,而太陽花學生則獲得越來越多民眾支持。文中提到,縱使馬英九稱「不簽服貿會有嚴重後果」,甚至保證不會開放中國勞工來台,並對中國企業設立限制,但依舊說服不了眾多人民。文章更引述「親藍媒體TVBS民調,有過半數的民眾支持太陽花學運,及其退回服貿的訴求,僅有約20%民眾支持服貿」。

另一方面,法國《費加洛報》今日也報導稱馬英九正面臨危機,並稱這位不受歡迎的9%總統,還是選擇利用自己的職權,忽略抗議者。太陽花學運發動10日後,馬英九雖試圖要平息反對者的怒氣,但學生們還要發起另一波運動。(施旖婕/綜合外電報導)

 

 

 

新聞圖片
英國《經濟學人》報導兩岸服貿事件,以「困境中的鹿茸」調侃馬政府。(圖擷取自《經濟學人》官方網站)
〔本報訊〕太陽花學運延燒國際,英國《經濟學人》日前專訪總統馬英九,期盼釐清兩岸服務貿易協議的爭議;《經濟學人》最新一期的報導中,則以「困境中的鹿茸」為題,描繪馬英九現況,被台灣網友戲稱鹿茸已獲「國際認證」!

 《經濟學人》於最新一期的「榕園論壇」(Banyan)報導台灣的服貿議題、太陽花學運,並以「困境中的鹿茸」(On the antlers of dilemma)為大標題,諷刺馬英九的處境。

 文章評論服貿議題,先是調侃馬英九「當了6年總統,頭髮仍像中國領導人一樣,疏得相當油亮」;隨後更指出,馬政府更如同北京高層,不願正面承認策略性錯誤。另外,像是「9%總統」、「鹿茸」的失言風波等,也都被撰寫進去。

Banyan

On the antlers of a dilemma

The ambitions of Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s president, collide with popular suspicion of China

Mar 29th 2014 | From the print edition

THE fresh-faced good looks have been lined and drawn by the cares of office. His immaculate English is forsaken for the dignity of immaculate Mandarin. Patient replies to questions come wearily, as if said many times before. Yet, six years into his presidency, Ma Ying-jeou’s hair remains as lush and jet-black as any Chinese Politburo member’s. And, speaking in the presidential palace in Taipei, he remains as unwilling as any leader in Beijing to admit to any fundamental flaws in strategy.

Perhaps Mr Ma draws inspiration from his portrait of Sun Yat-sen, founder of his ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and, in 1912, of the Republic of China to which Taiwan’s government still owes its name. Sun is revered as a nationalist hero not just by the KMT but, across the Taiwan Strait, by the Chinese Communist Party too. Mr Ma may also hope to be feted on both sides of the strait—in his case as a leader responsible for a historic rapprochement. For now, however, reconciliation between Taiwan and China remains distant. And Mr Ma, once the KMT’s most popular politician, is taunted by opponents as the “9% president”, a reference to his approval ratings in opinion polls last autumn.Improving relations with China has been the central theme of his administration, after the tensions of eight years of rule by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which leans towards declaring formal independence from the mainland. Mr Ma can boast of 21 agreements signed with China. He reels off the numbers of two fast-integrating economies: a tenfold increase in six years in mainland tourists to Taiwan, to 2.85m in 2013; cross-strait flights from none at all to 118 every day; two-way trade, including with Hong Kong, up to $160 billion a year.

China’s strategy to reabsorb Taiwan is plain. As the island’s economy becomes more intertwined with that of the vast mainland, China thinks, resistance to unification will wane. Then Taiwan becomes an “autonomous” part of China—like Hong Kong, though allowed its own army. Taiwan will return to the motherland without resort to the missiles and increasingly powerful armed forces ranged against it. But as Mr Ma sees it, cross-strait “rapprochement” is a first line of defence against Chinese aggression, since “a unilateral move by the mainland to change the status quo by non-peaceful means would come at a dear price”. Politics in Taiwan is framed as a debate about independence or unification but is really about preserving the status quo.

The next step in rapprochement with China would be a meeting between political leaders. In February in Nanjing, once the capital of a KMT government of all China, ministers from China and Taiwan held their first formal meeting since 1949. Mr Ma hoped to meet China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing this November, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit. To accommodate Hong Kong and Taiwan, APEC’s members are not “countries” but “economies”. So Mr Xi and Mr Ma could meet as “economic leaders”, sidestepping the tricky protocol that usually dogs relations, with China viewing Taiwan as a mere province. The Chinese demurred. But Mr Ma thinks a meeting somewhere is “not outside the realm of possibility”.

This backdrop explains why a protest movement against a services-trade agreement with the mainland is more than a little local difficulty for Mr Ma. Students occupying parliament have resorted to undemocratic means, and many of the arguments they and the DPP make about the trade agreement are specious. But they have tapped a vein of popular mistrust of Mr Ma and of economic integration with the mainland. A split persists between native Taiwanese, on the island for generations, and mainlanders, like Mr Ma, whose families came over as the KMT lost the civil war in the 1940s. Protesters portray Mr Ma as either a mainland stooge or as clueless and out of touch. In the occupied parliament, student caricatures give him antlers, a reference to a slip he once made when he appeared to suggest that the deer-antlers used in Chinese medicine were in fact hair from the animal’s ears.

Mr Ma says public opinion supports a “Ma-Xi” summit. Joseph Wu of the DPP, however, claims such a meeting would actually damage the KMT in the next presidential election, due in 2016; rather, he says, Mr Ma is trying to leave a personal legacy. The DPP’s lead in the polls alarms not just the Chinese government but also America, which could do without another flare-up in a dangerous region. The stronger China grows, the more Taiwan’s security depends on commitments from America. It switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979, but Congress then passed a law obliging it to help Taiwan defend itself.

All political lives end…

Mr Ma says relations with America are better than they have ever been at least since 1979 and perhaps before. Others are doubtful. In all the talk of America’s “pivot” to Asia, its promises to Taiwan are rarely mentioned. Many in Taiwan paid attention when John Mearsheimer, an American academic, suggested in the National Interest, a policy journal, that there is “a reasonable chance American policymakers will eventually conclude that it makes good strategic sense to abandon Taiwan and to allow China to coerce it into accepting unification.” For some, abandonment is a fact of life and unification a matter of time. “No one is on our side strategically, diplomatically, politically; we have to count on China’s goodwill,” an academic in Taipei argues.

Mr Ma has tried to steer what seems a sensible middle course between such defeatism and the adventurism of those in the DPP who would like to confront and challenge China. But he sounds weary with the effort, and Taiwan’s people seem weary of him. Their pragmatism and the DPP’s internecine strife may yet see them elect another KMT president in 2016. But if Mr Ma hoped to leave office with cross-strait relations stabilised, and with his own role as an historic peacemaker recognised on both sides and around the world, he seems likely to be disappointed.

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