A proposal by opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Ping-jui to include Chinese students in the national health insurance program triggered a strong backlash within the party recently.
This prompted DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang to come out and put a stop to the proposal, while Wu was also forced to apologize for his "ill-considered" move. The development demonstrates that the DPP is not yet ready to adopt a pragmatic approach toward cross-Taiwan Strait relations, although the party has often touted this as one of its stated goals.
Since Su took over the DPP helm, there have been signs of warming in relations between the party and China. These include the reinstatement of a China affairs department within the party and a recent visit to Shanghai by DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim to attend a symposium.
Strengthening communication with China is the first step toward resolving hostility. Without the support of a pragmatic China policy, however, the DPP will easily expose its hate for China and its closed-minded mentality.
In fact, Wu's proposal was simply aimed giving Chinese students the same treatment that is provided to other foreign students, who are already included in the national health insurance program. When the DPP cannot even deal with such a minor issue, how can it expect to change the public's perception of its anti-China stance and convince people that it has the ability to deal with other more complicated cross-strait affairs?
A lack of consensus on China policy is the biggest problem facing the DPP. Because the party's leaders have been evasive about discussing cross-strait policy, the "hate China" mentality held by pro-independence diehards has been seen as the party's mainstream opinion.
As a result, the DPP leadership is ambiguous about the party's exchanges with China, and in the event of a backlash from the pro-independence diehards, it can do nothing but surrender.
The DPP's top priority now is to work out a comprehensive proposition to back up its cross-strait policy. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 16, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)