Are Tsai Ing-wen and Huang Wu-hsiung Willing to Work Toward Cross-Strait Peace?
United Daily News editorial
February 10, 2009
The Democratic Progressive Party is "reexamining its political path." Retired National Taiwan University math professor Huang Wu-hsiung has created his own website, and is seeking support for his "Fifty Years of Cross-Strait Peace" initiative. A comparison of the two is rather intriguing.
Wikipedia describes Huang Wu-hsiung as a mathematical researcher, educator, writer, social activist, and pioneer of educational reform. Politically speaking he is Green. He says he is unwilling to be classified as either Blue or Green. He says he merely supports democratic reforms. He says he merely supports a nativist cultural identity. He is also Yunlin County Magistrate Su Feng-chi's husband. Readers may remember him from recent news reports.
The Democratic Progressive Party's "reexamination of its political path" contains an immense hole. It talks only about taking to the streets. It evades the issue of national identity. Unless one affirms one's position on national identity, no street movement can possibly succeed. During the "dang wai" party outsider movement, the DPP's social movements and street movements made genuine gains. But Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence moves eventually precipitated to the debacle of 2008, costing the party all its prior gains. If today's DPP is merely a social movement that takes no stand on the nation's identity, it will eventually founder on the reefs of Taiwan independence. After all, a social movement cannot patch up the enormous political hole in the Taiwan independence movement. Nor can the Taiwan independence movement succeed on the basis of a street movement.
Actually, a debate over the future of the nation has been going on within the DPP for some time. But the DPP leadership has suppressed it because it is unwilling to confront the issue. For example, Chen Shui-bian's "Taiwan's Cross" advocates the founding of an independent Nation of Taiwan. Lin Cho-shui's "History's Stage -- Eight Painful Years in Power" advocates the "measured promotion of Taiwan independence." Huang Wu-hsiung's "Fifty Years of Cross-Strait Peace" provides an alternative point of view. Huang Wu-hsiung is a Pan Green scholar. He stands outside the system, and operates from the bottom up. He is nearly 60, and ranks among those intellectuals who have experienced the political changes on Taiwan over the past few decades. Huang is an open book. His unassuming manner is not something politicians can imitate. One need not search for deep secrets. His initiative merely reveals the evolution of a Pan Green scholar. Besides, only a year ago, Huang Wu-hsiung came to the aid of then notorious Secretary of Education Chuang Kuo-rong.
Huang Wu-hsiung's argument persuades people more through its emotional content than its political content. This is not the place to elaborate. But in his "Fifty Years of Cross-Strait Peace" he proposes "maintaining the status quo for fifty years, neither reunifying nor declaring independence, and demilitarizing Taiwan," and writing the above into the constitution. His proposal, involving neither reunification nor independence, the avoidance of war, interim agreements, and a peace agreement, has much in common with President Ma Ying-jeou's political views. Huang Wu-hsiung said that if President Ma's proposal can be implemented he is in favor of it. In other words, Huang agrees with Ma Ying-jeou. If anything he is even more radical than Ma, and wants to incorporate these provisions into the constitution.
For someone with Huang Wu-hsiung's background, to propose writing Ma Ying-jeou's political views into the constitution, in order to resolve the controversy over independence and reunification, is staggering in its boldness. But if one thinks about the matter more carefully, when Huang Wu-hsiung refers of writing such provisions into the constitution, he's referring to the Republic of China Constitution. The Republic of China Constitution already defines the Taiwan region as "not reunified" or "yet to be reunified" and "not independent." Any change in status is subject to the approval of all citizens of the Republic of China, in accordance with constitutional due process. In other words, even if Huang Wu-hsiung's provisions are not written into the constitution, its premises and spirit are already contained in within the constitution. The Green Camp and the Taiwan independence movement have long sought a solution to cross-Strait conflict outside the Republic of China Constitution. Huang Wu-hsiung, ironically, has sought a solution within the ROC Constitution.
Huang Wu-hsiung says his program will "shelve disputes regarding reunification and independence." But the reality on today's Taiwan is that there is no "controversy over reunification vs. independence." So-called "reunificationists" are mostly "retake the mainland" or "the Three People's Principles will unify China" advocates. Very few advocate the annexation of Taiwan by mainland China. Today most people advocate "maintaining the status quo." Therefore, the so-called "controversy over reunification vs. independence" on Taiwan is actually a controversy over "preserving the Republic of China" or "terminating the Republic of China." This applies equally to advocates of radical Taiwan independence and advocates of gradualist Taiwan independence.
After the lifting of martial law and two decades of liberalization, the Republic of China Constitution and constitutional government already contains wording characterizing the Taiwan region as "not reunified, not independent, also reunified, also independent." The only difference being that Taiwan independence advocates demand the "rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution." This is true of both advocates of radical Taiwan independence and advocates of gradualist Taiwan independence. Huang meanwhile, has sought solutions within the constitution, in an effort to promote cross-Strait peace. His Green background probably made him think in terms of writing his "neither reunification nor independence" provisions into the constitution, and fail to notice that the Republic of China Constitution already contains such provisions. This is a textbook case of searching far and wide for something, only to find it under one's nose.
It is not necessary to bury onself in the details of Huang's proposal. It is enough to understand the evolution of his thought. The lesson of Huang Wu-hsiung's "Fifty Years of Cross-Straits Peace" is that in its search for national identity and constitutional rule, the Democratic Progressive Party must find its way. Otherwise it will end up back on the streets, attempting to use social movements as a pretext for either radical or gradualist Taiwan independence.
The tree of the Republic of China flourishes amidst tranquility. But the winds of Taiwan independence refuse to subside. Under the circumstances, Huang Wu-hsiung wonders, does Taiwan still have tomorrow?
2009.02.10 04:42 am