Tsai sells interests of residents to buy American support
By Zhu Songling
China Daily

Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen. [Photo/Agencies]

Some media reports say the United States administration is reviewing the schedule of under-secretary of state Keith Krach's planned visit to Taiwan on Sept 17-19 to attend so-called high-level economic talks with the island leaders.

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's administration announced in late August that Taiwan will open up its market from next year to US pork with ractopamine, a feed additive to promote leanness in animals raised for their meat, and US beef more than 30 months old, despite fears that the slaughtered pigs and cattle could be infected by mad cow disease.

The decision has caused an outcry across the island, with pig farmers threatening to take to the streets in protest. To contain the mounting protests, some politicians have chosen to speak frankly, saying the decision to import US meat is part of a political exchange for bolstering Taiwan's standing globally with Washington's help.

That agricultural states are big vote banks for Republicans is well known. Hence, the US administration has been trying to increase the export of US farm products.

But by pandering to the US politicians to purchase pork with ractopamine and beef with high risk of infection, the island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party has put the health and lives of Taiwan compatriots in danger, especially because more than 160 economies including the Chinese mainland have banned the import of pork with ractopamine.

Indeed, it is naïve of Taiwan leaders to believe the US is promoting economic exchanges for the island's good.

Since taking office in 2016, Tsai has been pushing her "Taiwan independence" agenda ruining the fruits of years of peaceful development across the Straits. To begin with, without acknowledging the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China, Tsai has all but destroyed the political foundation for official exchanges across the Straits.

Also, rejecting the plan of peaceful reunification, the Tsai administration has instead taken huge amounts of loan to buy weapons from the US, has been portraying the mainland as an enemy, and defrauding Taiwan residents-as well as violating laws, manipulating administrative means to gain political benefits and cracking down on political rivals.

And by enacting a series of laws including the "national security law" and "anti-infiltration law", the Tsai administration has created "green terror" on the island, stopping the island's residents from contacting their mainland compatriots while taking measures to sever ties between the mainland and Taiwan.

More recently, the Tsai administration has taken administrative measures to deter civil society and Taiwan residents from attending the Straits Forum held in Fujian province annually since 2009 to promote people-to-people exchanges across the Straits.

Seven decades of ups and downs across the Straits have shown that peaceful development is key to resolving the differences between the two sides and boosting the island's economic growth. Yet despite Tsai's desperate efforts to sever all ties with the mainland, statistics show that cross-Straits trade and Taiwan's trade surplus with the mainland reached new highs in the first half of the year.

Rising cross-Straits trade indicates that neither natural calamities like the COVID-19 pandemic nor man-made disasters the Taiwan secessionists are scheming to cause would hinder cross-Straits economic exchanges and the historical trend of national reunification.

The Tsai authorities intend to sell the interests of Taiwan residents-by opening up the island's market to US pork with ractopamine and beef, and buying obsolete weapons from the US-in exchange for Washington's strategic and trade "support", but the White House has never explicitly agreed to sign a free trade or two-way trade agreement with the island. The US' assurances in this regard have remained on paper, so have its promises to bolster the island's image globally.

History tells us that the only way Tsai can truly make progress in the economic and social fields is by improving the island's relations with the mainland. If the Tsai administration treads the right path, it will lead the island toward a better future. But if it chooses the wrong path, it will drag Taiwan to a point of no return.

The author is a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University.