Monday, November 5, 2007

Remember What the Election is About

Remember What the Election is About
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
November 5, 2007

Ruling and opposition party presidential candidates have each put forth proposals to revive the economy. Unfortunately their proposals have been drowned out by political controversies provoked by their fellow party members. Frank Hsieh is concerned about oil prices. He hopes those in power will "feel your pain." He hopes to promote his "Economy of Affluence" program. But not only did the Executive Yuan ignore his suggestion, the DPP and the Chen regime both invested all their energy in the Plebiscite to Join the UN Torch Relay. Ma Ying-jeou has been addressing economic issues since the beginning of his campaign. The economy is the theme of his election campaign. But who knew that suddenly an internal document would emerge from nowhere, deleting the 1992 Consensus and provoking bitter infighting, leaving Ma Ying-jeou once again outside the loop on party affairs, and his election campaign in total disarray.

The Green camp's strong arm tactics in promoting the Join the UN Torch Relay have drowned out the "Economy of Affluence" campaign. Perhaps they decided the issue of the economy would not necessarily be advantageous to the DPP. The ruling regime faces the problem of rising consumer prices, which it is at a loss do anything about. It has only served to underscore the reality of an "Economy of Destitution." The controversy over the 1992 Consensus is a farce. It is much ado about nothing. In the process the focus has been lost. The biggest victim is not necesarily Ma Ying-jeou, but the 1992 Consensus itself. Deleting the 1992 Consensus from specific documents and recognizing the 1992 Consensus are entirely different matters. If Ma Ying-jeou were to spublicly declare that he did not recognize the 1992 Consensus, and was amending the party constitution or its political platform, that would be a serious matter. But Ma Ying-jeou has never made such a declaration. Would a political leader in the midst of promoting his "Plebiscite to Rejoin the UN" campaign have the gall to overthrow the 1992 Consensus? The 1992 Consensus affirms that each side verbally declared that it recognized One China. Isn't the "One China" that the Taiwan side refers to the "Republic of China?"

The 1992 Consensus was one of the most important cross Straits breakthroughs following the Koo Wang talks. Before his death, Koo Chen-fu confirmed the existence of the 1992 Consensus. Washington has also indicated that the 1992 Consensus exists. The existence of the 1992 Consensus has nothing to do with whether it has or has not been deleted from a political document.

This is similar to the Democratic Progressive Party's "Taiwan Independence Party Constitution," which continues to exist even though it has been set aside and is no longer discussed. The DPP will suddenly play up its "Resolution on Taiwan's Future." After a while it may play up its "Resolution for a Normal Nation." It is unlikely anyone will characterize such moves as "phasing out demands for independence." Besides, no matter how one revises one's language, in the end they are just words, These word games are pretexts for intraparty power struggles. They are of little help to the Democratic Progressive Party's Join the UN campaign or goal of founding a Nation of Taiwan. What difference was there between Yu Hsi-kuen's "Resolution for a Normal Nation" and A Bian's "Resolution for a Normal Nation?" Now that the word games are over, the resolutions just sit there. Who pays them any mind?

The 1992 Consensus was merely an oral agreement, a tacit understanding between the two sides that did not need to be stated too clearly. This tacit understanding was decided by cross Straits dynamics. When cross Straits relations are good, the 1992 Consensus takes effect. When cross Straits relations are strained, either side may consider it non-binding. The Democratic Progressive Party has been in power for more than seven years. During this time it has openly repudiated the 1992 Consensus. When Su Chi was Mainland Affairs Commissioner he advocated "One China, Separate Interpretations." Beijing was willing to accept only the "One China" part of the formula. It was reluctant to accept the "Separate Interpretations" part. Once the Democratic Progressive Party was in power, it overturned the 1992 Consensus in toto. Only then did Beijing return to the 1992 Consensus. This tangled political web is not something that can be resolved with a few political slogans.

The past several years have shown that 1992 Consensus has never resided in any particular document, but in cross-Straits interactions and mutual recognition. If cross-Straits opposition has esclated, mentioning the 1992 Consensus in political documents is useless. If both sides of the Straits wish to improve relations with each other, it may not be necessary to stress the 1992 Consensus. Discussing the 1992 Consensus without the historical context of the Koo-Wang talks, or rational cross-Straits dialogue, is pointless. To worry about whether an irrelevant political document contains the 1992 Consensus is to blow matters out of proportion. It trivializes the 1992 Consensus.

This is a difficult test for both Ma Ying-jeou and Frank Hsieh. Jockeying for short-term political advantage is easy. Simply fan populist passions. Addressing economic issues, by contrast, requires professionalism and rational policies. One's proposals may not receive media applause. Political proposals are easy. Simply scream one's head off. Economic proposals are difficult. One must listen to the people. Will Hsieh and Ma be able to stand their ground? The current controversy may become a landmark for future historians, and an indicator of fitness for national leadership.

中國時報  2007.11.05









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