Will the DPP Repudiate the 1992 Consensus if It Regains Power?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 3, 2008
DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen said: "The DPP will be an opposition party with experience in governance." Perhaps she meant that the DPP has had eight years of experience in governance. It understands the consequences of governing successfully or unsuccessfully. Now that the Democratic Progressive Party is again in the opposition, it will use its "experience in governance" to provide checks and balances against the ruling KMT. It will be a loyal opposition party that displays the statesmanship befitting a party with experience in governance.
Since assuming office, the Ma administration has provided the DPP with numerous targets to shoot at, such as the Wu Hu Meeting and gasoline prices. The shockwaves from these controversies have temporarily died down. Now would be a good time for the Ma administration to review the results of its first engagement on the battlefield. It would also be a good time for the DPP to review its reversion to the status of an opposition party.
The KMT has stepped up. The DPP has stepped down. The two have reversed roles. The two major issues that have arisen in the wake of this ruling party change have been the Wu Hu Meeting and gasoline prices. The KMT is cleaning up the mess left by the DPP. The DPP, as "an opposition party with experience in governance," ought to be displaying a sense of responsibility in the way it approaches these issues. It isn't.
Let's talk about the Wu Hu Meeting. The Hu Siew Meeting at the Boao Forum has been followed by the Lien Hu Meeting and the Wu Hu Meeting. Each of these has been an effort to repair the damage caused by eight years of Democratic Progressive Party misrule. One could even say that the DPP single-handedly provoked the historic Siew, Lien, Wu meetings with Hu Jintao that took place over the past month and half. But we have yet to see the DPP display the statesmanship befitting "an opposition party with experience in governance." One month from now, on July 4, weekend charter flights are set to bring mainland tourists to Taiwan. Yet all we hear from the DPP is "Why was Ma Ying-jeou referred to as Mr. Ma and not President Ma?" "Why did everyone refer only to the Chinese people and not the Republic of China?" Is this how the "opposition party with experience in governance" intends to conduct itself?
Let's talk about gasoline prices. The Liu Cabinet's handling of gasoline price hikes was far from satisfactory. But as an "opposition party with experience in governance" the DPP ought to remember the harm it inflicted by freezing gasoline prices while in office before it opposes current price hikes. Yet all we hear from the DPP is the simplistic accusation "Price Hike Cabinet." Is the DPP really advocating a continued freeze on gasoline prices? The former DPP government is responsible for today's gasoline prices. The Liu Cabinet has been in office only seven days. Yet the DPP is already screaming "Step down!" Have they forgotten the lengths to which they went to cover up Chen Shui-bian regime corruption so that the DPP would not have to step down?
When Tsai Ing-wen said that "the DPP will be an opposition party with experience in governance," she seemed to be implying that when the DPP reverted to opposition party status, it would no longer oppose the ruling party out of sheer contrariness. For example, Beijing is willing to give Taipei more diplomatic breathing space. It is giving priority to Taipei's participation in the WHO. Yet the DPP's first reaction is to oppose the use of the term "Chinese Taipei." If the DPP was merely playing "Bad Cop" to the KMT's "Good Cop," that would be one thing. But does the DPP really want to say no to everything? Does the DPP intend to oppose the use of the term "Chinese Taipei" while participating in the IOC, APEC and the WTO as well? The name "Taiwan Post" will be changed back to the "Republic of China Post." The DPP refers to this as "de-Taiwanization," even as it denies that it is engaged in "de-Sinicization." This led Premier Liu Chao-hsuan to respond that "the Republic of China is Taiwan." Why doesn't the DPP return to its former position that "Taiwan is the Republic of China?" It has no need to oppose the Republic of China Post. The Ma administration hopes to "increase domestic demand." The DPP said that would trigger inflation. Does that mean in order to prevent inflation one should not increase domestic demand? Does that mean preventing an increase in domestic demand will stop inflation?
Taiwan has undergone a "second change of ruling parties." Its biggest political benefit is that the ruling KMT is now a ruling party that knows what it is like to be out of power. Conversely, the opposition DPP is now an opposition party that knows what it is like to be in power. This trial by fire has enabled the KMT to make a breakthrough, to conclude that "Taiwan is the Republic of China" and the "Republic of China is Taiwan." Being out of power has motivated the KMT to aspire to clean and competent governance. These are painful lessons the KMT learned during its eight years out of office. By contrast, the DPP still insists that referring to the post office as the "Republic of China Post" amounts to "de-Taiwanization." The DPP still insists that the "Southern Front" is a state secret that may not be declassified. Is this what the DPP considers conduct befitting "an opposition party with experience in governance?"
Eight years ago, as chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Tsai Ing-wen denied the existence of the 1992 Consensus. This set the tone for the ruling DPP's cross-strait policy. It also painted the DPP into a corner. The result? Under pressure from Washington and Beijing the DPP's cross-strait policy slammed head on into a brick wall. This was a major reason it lost power. Yet today Tsai Ing-wen is declaring that if the Democratic Progressive Party were to regain office, it would still not accept the 1992 Consensus. In effect the DPP's cross-strait position has gone from yesterday's "There never was any 1992 Consensus" to today's "Although a consensus was reached in 1992, we oppose the 1992 Consensus." Indeed, the correlation between the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations has been reinforced. Is the mission of the Democratic Progressive Party, now in the opposition, to declare that if it regains office it will not accept the 1992 Consensus?
After ten days back in the political opposition, the DPP must be alert. Given the cross-strait warming trend, if the DPP persists in rejecting and objecting to the 1992 Consensus, to participation in the WHO under the name Chinese Taipei, to missile reductions, to direct air passenger and air cargo links, the DPP may well paint itself into a corner, again. Would that really be a smart move on the part of "an opposition party with experience in governance?"
2008.06.03 03:01 am