TAIWAN – In the recent Kuomintang campaign for a new chairman, Ma Ying-jeou defeated Wang Jinping. Wang had been supported by political heavyweights Song Chuyu, Lian Zhao and Hu Jintao. The results of the election once again show Ma’s personal charm. The KMT chairman’s campaign shook things up at Zhongnanhai, Beijing, where the Chinese Communist Party’s central power is located. Though Hu called to congratulate Ma after he was selected as the KMT chairman, Hu’s associates reportedly let it be known in Taiwan Beijing would have preferred a different winner.
Beijing allegedly is concerned that Ma’s selection will influence the cooperation between the KMT and the CCP in a negative way. Ma dissatisfaction with the CCP and communist ideas in general is well known. He has expressed sympathy for the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democratic Movement many times, and he has appealed to Beijing on behalf of Falun Gong, a peaceful meditation and exercise practice that has been brutally persecuted in China since 1999. Some scholars in Taiwan think that Ma may not continue Lian Zhan’s policies regarding the relationship between Taiwan and China. There is concern in Taiwan that relations between Taiwan and China might deadlock, and communication between the two could fail.
Political Clout Doesn’t Count
Before the elections took place, Li Ping, a commentator from the Apple Daily, analyzed Ma’s campaign and claimed that it was unlikely to win. Wang’s opposing party was supported by three political giants, the Qinmindang Party’s Chairman Song, the KMT’s former Chairman Lian, and General Secretary of the CCP Hu.
Lian has spoken with Ma in person several times and then spread information to the media indicating that he doubted whether Ma would continue the reforms of the KMT. During the election, Lian and his daughter were pictured voting for Wang, the favored opposition candidate.
On the eve of the vote, Song was present to support Wang. He emphasized that only Wang could organize the two Taiwanese parties. In addition, Wang kept stressing his relationship with Jiang Jingguo. At one point, Wang even raised his voice as he touted his political connections.
By the end of the campaign, however, it was clear that Ma had won without their support, prevailing over Wang and his supporters, Song, Lian and Hu. Ma clearly demonstrated his favor with the Taiwanese people, and his trademark charm had shown through again.
Emphasizing Law, Reform, and Democracy
Actually, Ma has strong opinions regarding the situation in China. He participates in the annual commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democratic Movement, and appeals to Beijing for Falun Gong. He held an international press conference to oppose the anti-secession law, Beijing’s recent attempt to justify the use of force against Hong Kong and possibly Taiwan. He was refused entry into Hong Kong because at the beginning of the year he publicly opposed the anti-secession law legislated by Beijing. He also exposed false reports regarding the anti-succession laws that appeared in the news, causing a great stir in the Asian media.
The opinion of a professor from the Department of Politics in Taiwan University, Zhang Linzheng, was reported in the Apple Daily: If Ma were to be selected as KMT chairman, he might not continue Lian’s policy regarding relations with China. Even if he were to be selected as the president of Taiwan in 2008, his policy regarding Taiwan and China would be the same as that of the Democratic Progressive Party. The relationship between the two sides, according to Zhang, would become worse. However, a researcher at the Taiwan Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Li Jiaquan, pointed out that for Beijing, the only principle is “one China.” Beijing is, and always has been, against the independence of Taiwan. This conflict is nothing new. Li thought that Ma should have no problem on this aspect.
However, when Ma applied to participate in an international conference in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government refused to issue him a visa. The reason given for the refusal was because he held a press conference in Taipei to criticize Beijing’s legislation of the anti-secession law. Apparently, his press conference regarding his objections to the anti-succession law was an “unnecessary and unwise action,” upsetting Beijing.