The 1992 Consensus: One Consensus, Two Interpretations?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 23, 2008
During the Hu/Siew Summit at the Boao Forum, Vincent Siew proposed that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait "confront reality, create a better future, set aside differences, and seek a win/win scenario." Hu Jintao made no mention of the One China Principle. He didn't even mention his joint statement with George W. Bush regarding the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations.
On the following day, during the Cross-Strait Economic and Trade Round Table, the Beijing Ministry of Commerce issued a press release mentioning the One-China Principle. Two hours later, Xinhua deleted the term from its news coverage. The Ministry of Commerce also removed the term from its website. Such developments suggest that differences over the One China Principle have been set aside. During a press conference State Council Office for Taiwan Affairs spokesman Li Weiyi told reporters that cross-strait relations "rested on the foundation of the 1992 Consensus."
The situation is somewhat chaotic. Have the two sides set aside their differences or not? If they have, have even the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations been set aside as well? Hu Jintao made no mention of the 1992 Consensus during the Hu/Siew Summit. Does that mean it has been set aside too? A few days later, the State Council Office of Taiwan Affairs mentioned the 1992 Consensus. Does that mean the 1992 Consensus is synonymous with One China, Different Interpretations? Are the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Expressions synonymous with "setting aside differences?" Was the disappearance of the One-China Principle from the Boao press temporary? If it appears again, does that mean the One China Principle is equivalent to the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations? Different Expressions does not negate One China. It merely notes that each side defines and understands "One China" differently.
The 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations seems to be in a tug of war with "setting aside differences." Hu Jintao failed to mention the 1992 Consensus or One China, Different Interpretations during the Boao Forum. But the One-China Principle was added to a press release afterwards. If this is what "setting aside differences" means, it is disingenuous, and may lead to problems down the line. This is not setting aside differences. This is sweeping them under the rug.
By contrast, the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations is a much better way of setting aside differences. On the one hand, the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations can be considered synonymous with "setting aside differences." On the other hand, the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations does not sweep differences under the rug. Instead, it incorporates both views. If the two sides have gone from affirming the 1992 Consensus to setting aside the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations, then that is sweeping differences under the rug, then that is a step back, not a step forward.
The Ma administration must be alert to the risks involved. It must not engage in self-deception. A better approach is to stick to the 1992 Consensus, to reinforce the 1992 Consensus and to stress Different Interpretations. The Ma administration must equate the One-China Principle with the 1992 Consensus and Different Interpretations. Only then can it set aside and resolve differences rather than cover them up. Only then can it avoid the risk of self-deception and eventual catastrophe.
The Ma administration and the Beijing authorities are attempting to reaffirm the legitimacy of the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations. They must also consolidate public support for the 1992 Consensus and for One China, Different Interpretations. A decade ago Lee Teng-hui was wallowing in "black gold" corruption and wilfully destroying the ROC Constitution. The DPP followed suit by forcing everyone into a simplistic "Loving Taiwan vs. Betraying Taiwan" dichotomy. The term "Republic of China" nearly became a dirty word. Candidates at KMT rallies dared not emphasize the formal name of the country or wave the national flag. The DPP had arrogated to itself the right to define the ethnic and national identity of the Chinese people on Taiwan. The DPP's Rectification of Names campaign, Anti-Chiang Purges, insults to Chiang's memory, demolition of Chiang's plaques, Join the UN Plebiscites, selective 228-oriented reading of history, and attempts to stuff the Republic of China down an Orwellian "Memory Hole" have left the nation prostrate and bleeding.
The Ma administration must make a commitment. It must identify with the Republic of China and heal the artificially-concocted "ethnic" and "national" divisions created by the Taiwan independence movement. Only by rehabilitating the Republic of China, can it properly defend One China, Different Interpretations and deal with its ramifications. The One-China Principle must include the Different Interpretations clause. The Ma administration must not treat the Republic of China as it has in the past, as Original Sin. It must not bob and weave. It must not attempt to muddle through. It must find the courage to reaffirm the moral and political legitimacy of the Republic of China. If it fails to do so, the public will not support the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations. In that case, how can the Ma administration possibly expect Beijing to respect and abide by its terms?
Cross-strait relations must not be reduced to empty lip service. Any differences to be set aside must be set aside under the terms of the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations.
2008.04.23 02:53 am