Triangulation Meets Apostasy

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a brief visit to Taiwan.

From one side of the strait comes thunder:

(VOA)  China is objecting to former President Bill Clinton's plans to meet Sunday with Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian in Taiwan.  China scolded the former U.S. leader who is on a goodwill visit to China.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan expressed displeasure over the former president's plans to visit Taiwan and meet with leader Chen Shui-bian.  "As a former U.S. president, he should know China's position on the Taiwan issue," he said. "He should honor his commitment to the Chinese government, including abiding by the one-China policy." 

Of course, it is more than Clinton being there.  It matters most what he actually said or did over there.  From the other side of the strait comes lightning:

(AFP via  "The 'one China' policy protects Taiwan," [Clinton] was quoted by the China Times as saying, referring to Beijing's contention that Taiwan is a part of China awaiting reunification.  The comment upset some pro-independence groups.  "It hurt Taiwan people's feeling," said Su Chin-chiang, chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union.  "He does not need to speak for the People's Republic of China." 

If you think the talk about 'hurt feelings' is funny, then out of the ashes of the thunderstorm comes this unintentionally hilarious editorial in Taipei Times:

Triangulation meets apostasy.  February 28, 2005.

It is ironic that yesterday, at the end of the week of the Chen-Soong 10-point consensus, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should meet with former US president Bill Clinton. The irony comes from the degree to which, in forging that consensus, Chen aped Clinton's now notorious strategy of "triangulation," the Clintonian technique of betraying the groups that had elected you and the principles on which you were elected, to wrongfoot the opposition by stealing their policies.

The cunning of triangulation is that it leaves the betrayed with nowhere to go. In its devastating, yet effective cynicism it assumes that party faithful who feel betrayed will nevertheless continue to support the party if only because the alternatives are appalling. Clinton therefore could betray black voters knowing that the chance of them voting Republican was slim. Chen has decided that he can betray the greens because they are highly unlikely to vote blue to show their disapproval.

There is also with Chen the issue of his own legacy; he does not want his presidency to be seen as eight wasted years, so he is prepared to sup with the devil himself if it will gild his lackluster record.

Chen is, as Winston Churchill said of Clement Atlee, "a modest little man with a lot to be modest about." And if signing the sellout with People First Party Chairman James Soong (
宋楚瑜) wasn't enough, to crown it all he has declined to take part in 228 memorial activities today, thereby managing to insult the innocent dead so that he can collaborate with the living guilty. Chen's capacity for doing the dishonorable thing is bottomless.

The question Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters now have to ask themselves is where do they go from here. The anger over the "10-point betrayal" as it should henceforth be called, is palpable, so much so that some even say Chen should somehow be impeached. After all, he is in the Presidential Office under false pretenses, having chopped up and burned every plank of his re-election platform on the fire of "inter-party reconciliation."

Certainly Chen deserves to be tossed ignominiously out of office. But then what? Chen might be an apostate but at least, as the Americans would say, he is our apostate. Surely nobody prefers Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (
連戰)? And that is where the bitterness of triangulation lies. Where and to whom can pan-greens now turn?

In answering this question it is at least important to know how much of Chen's sellout is backed by the DPP. There are of course toadies who will call it a move of subtle wisdom. But the rank and file have to be as bitterly disillusioned as we are. What happened to their party? How did it get hijacked by the appeasers, by those who have buried their sense of justice under self-serving expediency? How the DPP might return to its roots and to some kind of moral rectitude is something needing serious thought.

Should we turn to the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), then? The problem with the TSU is, however, that it entirely dependent on former president Lee Teng-hui's (
李登輝) charisma. Beyond that it is seen as another bunch of opportunists, frustrated by their inability to rise in the bigger parties. This view might be unfair but it is widespread. More to the point, the TSU is simply too small to carry the burden of green expectations.

What we perhaps need is another organization, outside political parties and electoral politics, which can unite greens behind a coherent ideology and which can serve as a check on both green apostasy and rising blue assertiveness, a grassroots civic organization which can be above party politics and yet can articulate Taiwanese nationalism in a way that parties cannot ignore, rather as the Christian Coalition operates in US politics. If readers will forgive us the mixture of doctrinal metaphors, Taiwanese nationalism needs its Church Militant now more than ever. 

Welcome to the wonderful world of American-style two-party democratic politics!  After all these years of reading about it, did they really think it wouldn't and couldn't happen in Taiwan?  In the United States, the two major parties raise hundreds of millions of dollars for election campaigns.  No third parties stand a chance against the two juggernauts.  So all minority issue groups must leech themselves onto the lesser of the two evils, try the utmost to get their party into power and then be triangulated out of existence afterwards.  Since the people of Taiwan have much higher expenditure per capita for elections than Americans, they are trapped even deeper.  Sorry, but c'est la vie.