Cross-Strait Relations: The Cup and the Roof
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 20, 2009
In cross-Strait relations, peace has replaced war. Now the basis for interaction is "First economics, then politics. First the urgent, then the gradual. First the easy, then the difficult." Politics has been lumped with "the later, the gradual, and the difficult," but sooner or later we will have to face these problems and deal with them. It may be too early to solve them, but it is not too early to think about them.
As we have pointed out, cross-Strait relations cannot actually be divided into discrete realms labeled "political" and "economic." Major economic interactions invariably have major political implications. For example, the establishment of Direct Links or ECFA are not merely economic events, but also major political events. The two sides still have high-level political issues that must be addressed.
We would like to set forth two theories: the Cup Theory, and the Roof Theory. First, the Cup Theory. The Republic of China is the Cup. Taiwan is part of the water in the cup. Beijing has long wanted the water, but not the Cup. As one can imagine, attempting to take the water without the Cup, can only precipitate a bloody war. It is impossible. If one resorts to force, and breaks the Cup, one will merely wind up with a puddle of water.
From an historical perspective, the Republic of China is a Cup. It established a republic during the Xinhai Revolution. It waged the Northern Expedition, fought the Sino-Japanese War, and recovered Taiwan. The reality is that today's Taiwan is contained within the Republic of China Cup. The Republic of China is a democratic entity whose borough chiefs and president are directly elected. In other words, the "Republic of China" Cup is the crystalization of both Chinese principles and democratic practices. Neither the Chinese Communist Party nor Taiwan independence elements may break this Cup. Anyone who does, will merely wind up with a puddle of water.
Beijing's recent "liberation of thought" deserves affirmation. It has gone from "The Republic of China has already been destroyed" to "One China is the One China referred to in Taiwan's laws," to "Although China has yet to be reunified, it remains One China." It has in effect tacitly acknowledged the position held by the Republic of China. As for the "Rejection of de jure Taiwan independence" and "Maintenance of the status quo," these affirm that "The Republic of China political framework is not Taiwan independence."
Beijing clearly realizes that without the Cup known as the "Republic of China," there is no water. Without this Cup called the Republic of China, Taiwan will be ten thousand times more difficult to deal with than Tibet and Xinjiang. Therefore, we can imagine a time and a place when "The Cup and the water are one" becomes the key to cross-Strait relations.
The next step is the "Roof Theory." Will cross-Strait relations lead to the establishment of some sort of political affiliation? That may be too early to say. One can imagine all sorts of political affiliations. But any affiliation should be based on something that transcends both the "Republic of China" and the "People's Republic of China." It should be based on a "Third Concept" or "Higher Concept." In recent years, Beijing no longer refers to One China as the PRC. It says instead that "The mainland and Taiwan are both part of China." Such arguments smack of the 1992 Consensus, whose subtext is "One China, Different Interpretations." As we can see, such arguments are gradually subsuming "One China" under a "Third Concept" framework.
If "One China" is a "Third Concept," then the two sides may be able to consider a cross-Strait political affiliation based on the "Roof Theory." There are two possibilities. One. Form a confederation. Affiliate the two sides politically under the Basic Law of the confederation or federation. Two. Sign a peace agreement. Have they peace agreement's provisions "maintain the status quo." These two ways of thinking may still be in the developmental stages. But they may also constitute eventual solutions.
Some on either side of the Taiwan Strait will consider such views out-dated or whimsical. But if one wishes to shatter the Cup, how will one deal with leftover water? If one wishes to retain the water, how can one shatter the Cup?
The Cup Theory may grate on some people's ears. But in fact it is nothing more than the policy currently maintained by authorities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Beijing wants the Cup to preserve the water. Taipei wants the water to preserve the Cup. Taipei wants to use Taiwan's democratic institutions to preserve the Republic of China. The reason is simple. Only "peaceful development" will allow cross-Strait relations to be resolved gradually. Since peace is the main theme, neither Beijing nor Taipei may shatter the Cup.
The Cup Theory and the Roof Theory are in fact two sides of the same coin. The Cup Theory ensures peaceful development. The Roof Theory is a way of establishing some sort of political affiliation. The future may or may not hold a Roof Theory. But evidence shows that the Cup Theory is the key to the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. Of that there is no doubt.
2009.10.20 03:59 am