Alexa

ECFA referendum key for Taiwan's security

ECFA referendum key for Taiwan's security

President Ma Ying-jeou and his Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government should reconsider their opposition to calls for ratification of any proposed economic cooperation framework pact (ECFA) with the People's Republic of China in the light of evidence that Taiwan's people demand their rightful voice in this momentous decision.
Ma has declared repeatedly that there is no need for a referendum on the ECFA for a host of reasons, including claims that such a pact was "purely economic" and "will not involve sovereignty."
In fact, the notion that a cross-strait ECFA will only be an agreement to discuss "tariffs" is starkly contradicted by the process of the negotiation and signing of the boilerplate ECFA signed between the PRC and the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) in November 2002 which served as a platform for deepening cooperation in finance, information and communication technologies, agriculture, transportation, human resources, culture, tourism and public health.
Moreover, the fact that Beijing is deeply involved in the ECFA issues for political reasons that do "impinge" on Taiwan's sovereignty was even acknowledged by the pro-KMT media in a backhanded manner.
Right after opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen launched the drive for "a referendum for a referendum" on the controversial pact on June 14, an editorial in the pro-KMT United Daily News advised the DPP to address its objections to the ECFA to Beijing instead of launching the Taiwan referendum drive.
The UDN editorial clearly aimed to shift responsibility from the KMT government, but did touch on an interesting point.
Although the question of whether Taiwan citizens should have the right to ratify an ECFA with China is a domestic issue subject to a political tussle between the ruling KMT and the opposition DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and other Taiwan-centric civic and social reform groups, the PRC's ruling Chinese Communist Party is also a direct and conscious player.
Indeed, PRC State Chairman Hu Jintao himself put the process in motion on Dec. 31 by calling for cross-strait economic cooperation under the "one China principle," a ball which Ma shortly picked up and turned into the ECFA drive.
Moreover, besides numerous statements by PRC officials attesting to the coexistence of political and economic objectives in Beijing's approach, the PRC State Council itself, in an explanatory document issued in May on plans to set up a "Taiwan Strait West Coast Special Economic Zone" in its Fujian Province, declared that the project would "promote the great enterprise of our motherland's peaceful unification."
Indeed, the public and official admission of such transcendently political goals in "purely economic" plans directed at Taiwan bolster arguments for the absolute necessity for any ECFA or other major cross-strait agreement to be submitted to our citizens for ratification by referendum.
Since the proposed ECFA embodies an irreversible strategic decision that will impose a future "framework" on Taiwan's economic development direction, worsen social equity and subtly but substantially influence our future political choices, it is only natural that citizens in our democratic society insist on participating in this choice.
The people want a voice
Not surprisingly, an opinion poll of 1,080 Taiwan adults released Sunday by the Taiwan Thinktank shows that the perceptions of the majority of Taiwan citizens, regardless of partisan preferences, are at odds with Ma's objections.
Besides finding that nearly 85 percent agreed that the people should have the chance to express their views on ECFA, the poll found that over 61 percent supported the DPP's referendum proposal that the government should submit any draft ECFA signed between Taiwan and China to the Taiwan people for ratification by referendum with only 28 percent opposed. Indeed, over 71 percent said all further major cross-strait agreements should be ratified by national citizen referendum.
Moreover, over 61 percent said they would cast ballots in such a referendum, an indication that such a referendum could muster sufficient interest to reach the "double majority" threshold for valid passage of over 50 percent support in a poll in which over 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
The poll also found that Ma's claim, based on a misleading Mainland Affairs Council survey in April, that 70 percent of Taiwan citizens support his initiative was meaningless since nearly 86 percent of respondents are still "unclear" on the ECFA's contents.
Interestingly, the Taiwan Thinktank poll found that over 61 percent of those surveyed believe requiring ratification by referendum would give Taiwan negotiators more bargaining clout in related negotiations and therefore nearly 63 believed that Ma should support the holding of an ECFA referendum.
The absence of evidence of anything that could be broadly considered to be "hard bargaining" in cross-strait negotiations in the past year shows why a majority of Taiwan citizens believe the ratification of major cross-strait agreements by referendum is necessary to protect our fundamental economic, political and social interests and our sovereignty from being undermined by the new "KMT-CCP cooperation" or ceded wittingly or not by the Ma government.


Updated : 2021-03-06 13:29 GMT+08:00