Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lee Teng-hui's "Two States" have become "Two Friends"

Lee Teng-hui's "Two States" have become "Two Friends"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 30, 2009

Lee Teng-hui met with James Soong at Tsui Shan Chuang for two and a half hours. He then announced his latest cross-Strait policy perspectives at a meeting of Taiwan Advocates. He said he had "no objection to deepening exchanges between Taiwan and China." He said "Three links, four links, five links are all okay." He said "You are you, I am me, but you and I are friends."

Lee Teng-hui's two moves reveal an attempt to make up for two major blunders he once committed. Internally, Lee Teng-hui's biggest mistake was to purge James Soong, making a Lien/Soong ticket impossible, and causing the KMT to lose power. It also denied Lee Teng-hui a place in history. He was instead relegated to the status of Godfather of Taiwan Independence. Today, Lee and Soong met in secret. Lee Teng-hui probably regrets the decisions he made back then. In terms of cross-Strait relations, Lee Teng-hui's "National Unification Guidelines" was a failure. His "Special Two-States Theory" was a failure. His Taiwan independence path he adopted after stepping down was a failure. He even went so far as to said "I am not an advocate of Taiwan independence. I have never advocated Taiwan independence." Such examples show that on cross-Strait policy, Lee Teng-hui is a chicken without a head. He has now advanced a new cross-Strait theory. He probably hopes to find a new place for himself in the annals of history.

Lee Teng-hui's new cross-Strait theory, has in effect, radically deconstructed his past cross-Strait theory. Lee Teng-hui has finally acknowledged the rise of Mainland China. He no longer talks about the "Coming Collapse of China." He has finally endorsed the Three Links. He no longer talks about his "No Haste, Be Patient" policy. He no longer stresses his "Two States Theory." He now says "You are you, I am me, but you and I are friends." In fact, such views were forseeable 20 years ago. Lee Teng-hui was in power for twelve years. He has been out of power for nine years. Today, after running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the past 20 years, Lee Teng-hui is finally mouthing words such as these. What is this, if not the very thing Lee himself decried so often and so long? What is this, if not "Taiwan's Sorrow?"

But were it not for Lee Teng-hui's major debacle, we might not have our current domestic political and economic consensus and cross-Strait relations. Lee Teng-hui's squelching of the Lien/Soong ticket brought down the KMT, enabling Chen Shui-bian to seize power with only 39.3% of the vote. But the biggest paradox of all is that an ethnic separatist Taiwan independence political path turned out to be unacceptable not merely to Beijing, but also to mainstream society on Taiwan. In other words, without Lee Teng-hui's "No Haste, Be Patient" policy, and Chen Shui-bian's "Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution," leading Taiwan toward a political and economic impasse, would mainstream society on Taiwan ever have experienced today's awakening?

At the same time, between Beijing and Taipei, we have a thought-provoking paradox. After enduring the thunder and lightning of Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, the Beijing government arrived at a newer and clearer understanding of the Republic of China's political institutions and public mood. This gradually changed its Taiwan policy from one of propaganda attacks and military intimidation, to Hu Jintao's "framework for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations." In retrospect, without Lee Teng-hui bringing down the KMT, how could Lien Chan have made his "ice-breaking journey" and established a KMT/CCP platform? Without Chen Shui-bian's "Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution," and "Plebiscite to Join the UN," would Beijing have been willing to affirm the "92 consensus" advance cross-Strait relations to where they are today? Perhaps if the Lien/Soong ticket had prolonged KMT rule, Lee Teng-hui might still be the power behind the throne. Perhaps the public on Taiwan might still be deadlocked over the issue of reunification vs. independence. Perhaps Beijing's policy of propaganda attacks and military intimidation might still be the same. And so on, and so forth. Is this not the ultimate paradox?

Lee Teng-hui now speaks of "cross-Strait friends." But he has yet to resolve the problems he created with his "Two States Theory." Lee Teng-hui has yet to explain what our national identity ought to be during cross-Strait negotiations. Today Lee Teng-hui says "You are you, I am me, but you and I are friends." He no longer advocates Taiwan independence or "Taiwan and China / One Country on Each Side." Why doesn't Lee Teng-hui repudiate, here and now, his past allegation that the "Republic of China no longer exists?" Why not reaffirm the Republic of China, and on its basis establish cross-Strait relations? Why not desist from criticizing the Ma administration, accusing it of falsifying the meaning of the "92 Consensus?" Why not affirm the "One China, Different Expression" consensus reached by the public on Taiwan? It would be one thing if "One China, Different Expressions" had not been publicly endorsed by Beijing. But to defend the Republic of China is something Taipei must do and can do.

Lee Teng-hui has repudiated almost every one of his past positions on Taiwan independence. But if he refuses to reaffirm the "Republic of China," what will his new cross-Strait theory be based upon? He once advocated Taiwan independence, therefore he repudiated the Republic of China. Now that he has revised his position on Taiwan independence, isn't it time he reaffirmed the Republic of China? Is his sole reason for forsaking Taiwan independence to make friends with Beijing? Will refusing to endorse the Republic of China and "One China, Different Expressions" really prevent Taiwan from becoming what Lee Teng-hui referred to as a "pawn nation?" Will it really prevent Taiwan from being manipulated by Beijing?

Lee Teng-hui's soul searching reflects the plight of the Taiwan independence movement. The DPP's "Consensus Conference on Development Strategy" wants only to debate the Ma administration about ECFA. It is terrified of debating the Ma administration on its Mainland policy. Is this not pathetic? It this not ridiculous?

2009.06.30 05:30 am









No comments: