Hu's Three Forms of Respect: Peaceful Development is Democratic Development
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 7, 2009
The theme of Hu Jintao's New Year's Eve talk was "peaceful development." Throughout his talk, Hu spoke of "establishing a framework for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations."
Actually, we are placing our hopes on "establishing a framework for the democratic development of cross-Strait relations."
Hu feels that three decades of cross-Strait relations reflect a respect for history, a respect for reality, and a respect for the aspirations of the people, for their effort to "seek truth from facts." These three forms of respect can be understood as follows: Historical evolution has changed reality, and a changed reality has led to changes in public opinion. We can of course reverse this formula as well. The evolution of public opinion has changed reality, and a changed reality has changed our understanding of history.
Hu Jintao spoke of "respect for history." He considers today's cross-Strait stand-off a continuation of the 1949 Chinese Civil War. Yes, the 60 year old Chinese Civil War was indeed a power struggle between two parties, the KMT and the CCP. But at a deeper level it was a struggle to determine the future of China. It was a the Chinese people's demand that China's rulers sho greater respect for democracy, and do more to improve people's lives. Sixty years later, the Chinese Civil War is no longer merely a narrowly defined KMT vs. CCP Civil War. Rather, given globalization, the "civil war" has evolved into a bilateral pursuit of universal values, of the people's well being, and of cooperation and competition. Sixty years ago, the KMT and CCP divided the people with a bloody civil war. Sixty years later, must the people still resort to civil war to achieve power?
Hu Jintao spoke of "respect for reality." But he seems to have revised history. In his talk, the term he invoked most was "pragmatism." He cited Beijing's loosening of restraints on Taipei's international space as evidence of Beijing's "respect for reality." He added that "the two sides can conduct pragmatic political relations under special circumstances, even though the nation is not yet reunified." His suggestion was unprecedented. First, he reaffirmed the "the nation is not yet reunified," and is "under special circumstances." That means reunification is future tense, and that the "special circumstances" under which the nation is "not yet reunified," ought to be acknowledged and maintained. That means the maintenance of the recent cross-Strait status quo. Secondly, he pointed out that "under special circumstances," in which the nation is "not yet reunified," the two sides should explore pragmatic cross-Strait political relations. That leaves considerable room for the imagination, including such notions as "pre-reunified," for "quasi-reunified," or "non-reunified" political relations. We may address this issue tomorrow. In short, Hu apparently acknowledged that today's cross-Strait reality is different from the "civil war" of 60 years ago.
Hu Jintao also demonstrated "respect for the people's aspirations." He mentioned that a "Taiwanese consciousness is not the same as a Taiwan independence consciousness." This is hardly new, but it does evince Hu's awareness of a "Taiwanese consciousness." He also repeated his message to the Democratic Progressive Party. He acknowledged Taiwan's pluralistic party politics. If Beijing evinces a psychological awareness of a "Taiwanese consciousness," and acknowledges the political reality of Taiwan's partisan politics, the two sides ought to be able to conduct pragmatic negotiations, and arrive at peaceful win/win solutions.
Now let's look at Hu's three forms of respect. Sixty years ago cross-Strait relations were predicated upon a civil war and a Cold War. Realistically speaking, calls to "Liberate Taiwan!" or "Retake the Mainland!" treated the people as tools and "straw dogs" in a cross-Strait civil war. But six decades later, democracy, the people's livelihood, and globalization reign supreme. Realistically speaking, the situation is "divided rule," the nation is "not yet reunified," and "reunification is difficult." Who has the heart to ask people on both sides to kill each for the sake of a 60 year old civil war?
In fact, ever since Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law and Deng Xiaoping initiated reforms and liberalization, both realpolitik and public aspirations have undergone substantial change. That is the significance of Hu's three forms of respect.
Chiang Ching-kuo single-handedly lifted martial law. He single-handedly authorized visits among relatives across the Strait, and initiated cross-Strait exchanges. He linked cross-Strait relations to Taiwan's democratic politics. Taiwan's leaders must promote cross-Strait relations in accordance with Taiwan's democracy. This is why the Taiwan independence movement lost power last year, and why cross-Strait exchanges have surged. Beijing must find a way to resolve cross-Strait problems that accords with Taiwan's democracy. This is why in recent years Beijing has turned from "halting separatism and accelerating reunification," to "maintaining a status quo" in which the nation is "not yet reunified." Deng Xiaoping reformed and liberalized the mainland, Broadly speaking, it was democratically oriented. The people's livelihood took precedence. Internationally the "peaceful rise" of China became Beijing's clarion call. Domestically, "class struggle" was abandoned. Under such circumstances it is impossible to define cross-Strait relations in such narrow terms as a "civil war."
Sixty years ago, history changed reality, and reality changed the meaning of public opinion. Sixty years later, public opinion changed reality, and reality changed our understanding of history. Hu Jintao speaks of a framework of "peaceful development of cross-Strait relations." Why not consider a framework of "democratic development of cross-Strait relations?"
2009.01.07 03:32 am
胡 錦濤談「尊重歷史」，他認為：今日兩岸情勢，是一九四九年「中國內戰遺留並延續的政治對立」。其實，六十年前的「中國內戰」，一方面是國共兩黨的政權之 爭，但更深一層的意義，卻是中國走哪條路之爭，更是中國人民要求統治者尊重民主、改善民生之爭；何況，六十年後，當歷史的進程演化至今日地步，所謂「中國 內戰」，當然已非「國共內戰」那種狹義，而是在全球化的趨勢下，所謂的「內戰」其實已經演化成兩岸在追求普世價值及民生福祉上的合作與競爭。六十年前，國 共用流血「內戰」來分割人民；六十年後，難道仍要讓人民用「內戰」來取捨政權？
胡錦濤談「尊重現實」，似乎已對歷史的詮釋有了修正。他在 談話中，使用最多的詞彙之一，就是「務實」，且對鬆綁台灣的國際空間表達善意，此皆顯示其「尊重現實」的態度。他又說，「兩岸可以就在國家尚未統一的特殊 情況下的政治關係展開務實探討」，這是過去未有的論述。第一，他再次確認了「國家尚未統一的特殊情況」之存在，這應是說，「統一」是「未來式」，而「尚未 統一」的「特殊情況」當予承認並維持；這應當就是近年兩岸所說「維持現狀」的意思。第二，他又指出，在「尚未統一的特殊情況下」，可以就兩岸的「政治關係 展開務實探討」；若依此論，兩岸是否可能出現「前統一」、「準統一」或「非統一」的「政治關係」，已予人極大想像空間。這一部分，明天可作續論。總之，胡 錦濤似乎承認，今日的兩岸現實，畢竟已與六十年前的「內戰」不同。
胡錦濤對「尊重人民願望」，亦有發揮。他提到「台灣意識不等於台獨意 識」，這雖不是新論述，但應是表示認知到「台灣意識」的主體性；至於他對民進黨再次喊話，也是回應台灣政黨政治所反映的多元民意。只要北京當局能夠體認 「台灣意識」（人民心理）與「政黨政治」（政治體制）這兩大塊，在務實協商下，兩岸關係即應可找到和平雙贏的道路。
回頭談「三尊重」。六 十年前，兩岸關係就歷史言，是內戰與國際冷戰；就現實言，是「解放台灣」與「反攻大陸」；就人民願望言，則兩岸人民皆是「內戰」的工具與芻狗。然而，六十 年後，就歷史言，則是民主與民生至上及全球化；就現實言，則是「分裂分治」、「尚未統一」、「統一不易」；就人民願望言，則誰敢又誰忍叫兩岸人民再像六十 年前那般因「內戰」而相互殘殺？
蔣 經國一手解嚴，一手以開放探親啟動兩岸交流；即已將兩岸關係與台灣的民主政治繫為一體。台灣主政者必須依民主運作來推動兩岸關係，這正是去年台獨失勢及兩 岸交流再起的原因；而北京當局亦必須在台灣的民主體制中，找到化解兩岸難題的條件，這則是近年來北京漸從「必須停止分裂，儘速統一」轉至「承認尚未統一的 特殊現狀」之原因。至於鄧小平的改革開放，廣義而言亦是民主取向，民生掛帥，對外「和平崛起」，對內揚棄「階級鬥爭」，當然亦不可能再用狹義的「內戰」來 定義兩岸關係。