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May 26, 2017

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Beef war's only casualty is Taiwan

Su Tseng-chang, the newly elected chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party, adopted a "scorched earth" strategy to continue to ban American beef and beef products containing the leanness-enhancer ractopamine, though he certainly didn't seem to know what that strategy actually was.

A scorched earth strategy, made world-famous by Joseph Stalin who applied it to stop Nazi Germany's invasion during the World War II, is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from any area. Su considered the Legislative Yuan a battlefield, ordering his underlings, who are our lawmakers, to occupy the podium of the nation's highest legislative body to preclude the final deliberation and a vote on an amendment to the Food Sanitation Act that aimed to allow the importation of American beef that contains a maximum-allowable level of the leanness-enhancing feed additive.

All 40 opposition party lawmakers, plus three of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, thought "theirs is not to reason why, theirs but to do and die," carrying their sleeping bags onto the floor of the Legislative Yuan to camp there in turns for five days and nights — during three of which thousands of people were evacuated and countless millions of dollars were lost in damage to farms and factories in devastating floods — ready to repel an attack from their Kuomintang majority counterparts, which, however, never came. The operational method worked, albeit the general didn't know his wasn't a scorched earth strategy. But that doesn't matter. For all's well that ends well. He won the battle.

But the war is lost.

The battle was won, not because the scorched earth strategy worked. The enemy became a little wiser. The opposition party did the Kuomintang-baiting, which used to work well, for a parliamentary melee would always follow, which has come to be identified as a hallmark of our Legislative Yuan. Not this time. The Kuomintang didn't take the bait, knowing all the time that the Cabinet can just issue an executive order to end the American beef ban without the Act being so amended. The opposition knows it, too. That's why the Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus agreed at the beginning of the just-ended parliamentary session with its Kuomintang counterpart that the executive order shouldn't be issued to allow the imports if the beef issue cannot be solved at an early date, the only difference being what that early date might be. The ruling party believes it's the end of the session but the opposition might think otherwise.

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