Candidates to once again take senseless battle to TV
The China Post news staffSince John F. Kennedy debated Richard M. Nixon in the run-up to the 1960 U.S. presidential election, public TV debates have been in vogue worldwide. Taiwan is more than eager to follow the trend, holding in 2010 a public TV debate between President Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party and its standard bearer-to-be in 2012, over whether the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) should be signed between Taiwan and China, and getting ready for another scheduled for next month.
August 29, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
This time around, President Ma is going to face Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the opposition party and its vice presidential candidate in 2008, who wishes to bear its standard come the 2016 presidential race. Their TV tiff will be over the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement already signed in Shanghai on June 22, which the Legislative Yuan insists has to be “ratified” like a full-fledged treaty between two sovereign states. Taiwan and China do not recognize each other, and according to the Statute Governing Relations between the People of the Mainland Area and the Taiwan Area, the services trade agreement needs only to be reported to the nation's highest legislative organ. But our all-important lawmakers have upgraded the agreement, which was one of the follow-up arrangements of the ECFA and required the Executive Yuan or the Cabinet to submit it for proper ratification. Of course, they did that for the ECFA after it was signed on June 29, 2010. The Ma-Tsai debate took place before it was concluded.
The coming TV debate was suggested by the mass-circulation pro-Chinese China Times. It published a public opinion survey last week, showing close to 63 percent of the respondents would like to watch the trade in services agreement debated on what cynics used to call the idiot box. The Public Television Service has accepted the suggestion to hold the unwarranted tiff with the participation of representatives from the China Times, its pro-independence rival the Liberty Times, the tabloid Apple Daily, the pro-unification United Daily News and the state-owned Central News Agency.
The talk is unwarranted simply because it won't produce any tangible result. First of all, what's the purpose of the debate? Ma wants to enumerate all the good things the agreement is expected to bring to Taiwan to defend it and Su will do what he can to show it shouldn't have been signed. Should the con win the duel of words, would Taiwan reject the agreement or renegotiate it? China has made crystal clear that there won't be any renegotiation, and so the only option is to forget it. Then, does anyone think what's going to happen to Taiwan when it wants to conclude any agreement or arrangement with any country of the world? Don't tell us the U.S. Senate didn't ratify President Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations. The United States was already the world's superpower in 1919, and other countries had no choice but to negotiate agreements with it.