KMT reform special–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

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KMT reform committee releases their four-part report, a look at the function portions

The KMT reform committee has released their four-part report.
The first part is on cross-straits issues, and I’m going to go over that a little later in the show.
Let’s take a look at the three parts that deal with practical organizational issues.
The second section was on KMT organizational reform.
Some of the better ideas include: To avoid the central standing committee from being too dominated by elderly figures, they are going to limit members to two four-year terms.
They plan to bring more locally elected KMT politicians and local party officials from around the country into the system to bring the party closer to the people.
In short, to make the party less top-down and more bottom-up.
They’re also going to create a party post for digital marketing.
One other idea that makes some sense is they will require all party list candidates for legislature to be approved by over half of party delegates, which should help weed out some of the more controversial picks.
The party list in the 2020 election was widely despised, even by many inside the KMT.
There is also a curious line about creating a ‘retired military committee’ to give “even higher honour and service as the former Huangfu Hsing”. I don’t know what they are up to here, but it’s possible this is a way to try and co-opt and control this famously conservative block in the party–but that’s just speculation on my part.

The third section is about trying to rebuild relations with younger Taiwanese, who have almost entirely abandoned the party.
Going forward the party will be setting aside one in five party list candidates for people under 40.
The rest of this section is about opening up more opportunities for young people in the party, and for their voices to be heard.
The success of that will depend quite a bit on how it is implemented.
It is also worth noting that in the current environment the kind of young people who would join the KMT are probably not very representative of their generation.
There was also an interesting bit about turning local party chapters into “party think tanks.”

The fourth section is on finances.
Mostly this is about saving money, raising money through various means such as fundraising events and getting members to raise more money, and to raise party dues to NT$500.
It all sounded reasonable, but the financial burden their massive pension liabilities impose seems all but insurmountable.
They also plan to leverage their historical assets and their intellectual property holdings, but they weren’t specific about what that exactly means.
Overall, most of this sounds reasonable and addresses their problems–but the devil is in the details
The KMT is an old, rigid organization, so much of this will be hard to implement, and it will be hard to get a lot people in the party to change their ways and go along with this.
If Johnny Chiang pulls this all off, the party will be in a much better position in coming elections.
But the hard part is ahead of him, and it’s still an uphill battle.

The cross-strait part of the KMT reform report

The cross-strait part of the KMT reform committee report is the part that is getting all the attention, and the heat.
In short, the four are: upholding the Republic of China’s national sovereignty; safeguarding freedom, democracy and human rights; prioritizing the safety of Taiwan; and creating win-win cross-strait relations.
The opening of part one reads: Insist on the sovereignty of the Republic of China (ROC) and reject “one country, two systems.”
In part two they call for a “human rights” treaty with China.
In part three they state: Cross-Strait peace is a shared responsibility of both sides of the Strait.
The KMT calls for reaching a “Cross-Strait Code of Conduct and Mechanisms for Prevention of Untoward Incidents.”
And in part four, they have this:
Sound cross-Strait economics and trade should be created by mutual benefits, win-win situations, and transparent oversight.
The KMT calls for legislative action on a bill titled “Statute Governing Oversight on the Concluding of Cross-Strait Agreements” to be completed as soon as possible.
Interestingly, the term “mainland” was not used in the report proper, only in the addendum at the end of the report.
The part that is very, very interesting is what is missing entirely: the 1992 consensus!
Though it was not in the report proper, they addressed it in an addendum at the end of the report and at their presentation.
They proposed that the “1992 consensus” should be viewed as “a historical description of past cross-strait interaction.”
Where have we heard something like that before?
Hmm…I’ll let a KMT critic say it, as reported by CNA:
Darby Liu (劉大貝), a member of the KMT’s policy-making Central Standing Committee, called the proposals announced Friday the worst cross-strait theory he has ever seen, questioning the no-mention of the “1992 consensus” and whether the KMT’s leadership was solely parroting the rhetoric of the DPP.
“The proposals made by the panel were mostly the same as those broached by the DPP.
No wonder that the KMT has been described as a small green (party in the green camp dominated by the DPP),” he said.
The CNA report continues:
In response to Liu’s criticism, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said he felt there was a deep generation gap within the party, which needs to be mended through communication and integration.
The KMT needs to face up to this reality and seek to expound the values that the party upholds, otherwise its reform efforts will go nowhere, Chiang said.
“The KMT is by no means a small green party, and I cannot accept such a comment,” Chiang said.
The KMT will stick to its middle-way philosophy and spirit of the ROC as set by its founding father Sun Yet-sen (孫中山), because democracy and freedom are not exclusive assets of the DPP, he stressed, alluding to Sun’s desire for a democratic China.
In terms of cross-strait ties, Chiang said, the most important thing is to find the key to solving the current stalemate between the two sides.
The misunderstanding of and distrust about the “1992 consensus” among Taiwan’s people was a result of the changes brought about by the DPP and Beijing’s actions, not by the KMT, he said.
Five members of the cross-strait panel also voiced their views regarding the proposals they made.
The panel’s members pointed out that the consensus has been seriously defamed, losing its function and appeal in Taiwan’s society.
They said the KMT needs something new beyond the “1992 consensus” to create extra room for it to rekindle its interaction with mainland China while at the same time win back voters.
Due to the DPP’s interpretation of the consensus and general public distrust of China, especially given its attempts to pressure Taiwan after Tsai declined to accept the consensus, Taiwanese people, especially young voters, have made a link between the KMT and the “1992 consensus” and equated the party’s acceptance of the consensus as the KMT being pro-China.
The KMT camp has more recently begun to openly object to being described as such, emphasizing they are instead pro-peace and pro-good cross-strait relations.
Quite simply, I’m blown away.
There had been plenty of indications, including from some of Johnny Chiang’s comments, that the 92 consensus would be retained in some form.
It’s not. It’s gone! It’s dead!
He is right when he says that this doesn’t make the KMT a “little green” party, but this moves the party from the deep blue end of the spectrum to light blue.
The characterizing the 92 consensus as ‘history’ is similar to President Tsai’s formulation, though hers refers narrowly to the 1992 meetings and the new KMT one to the process that was held under the rubric of the consensus.
On paper the four parts of this are similar to the DPP’s stances on the issues, but difference comes from what we know about the parties.
On part one, upholding ROC sovereignty, this is the official line of President Tsai–but she clearly wants to move more to the country being called Taiwan instead.
The KMT, we can assume, are more serious about the ROC part.
The call for the various laws and agreements relating to China are more China-centric and focussed than what the DPP would offer, but the chance that China would sign a “human rights” agreement is laughable–it probably wouldn’t even occur to the DPP.
They also indicate that they clearly want better relations and economic ties with China than the DPP does.
But the emphasis on freedom, democracy, protecting Taiwan and clearly stating the 1992 consensus is gone and “one country two systems” and actions by China are essentially hostile, they have moved much closer to the centre.
Not quite there, of course.
And it also remains to be seen if the public actually believes the party really intends to move in the direction they say they are.
We also don’t know how strong the backlash will be in the party to this.
Chiang may now be out on a limb.
He’s got until the next party chair election in May next year to convince the party it is on the right track.
If not, he’ll be kicked out.
If he does, that may open the door to more reforms.
This is going to be very, very interesting to watch.

Image courtesy of Johnny Chiang’s Facebook page

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