The Next 60 Years of Cross-Strait Relations: A Broader Path, A More Elevated Perspective
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 16, 2009
The current "Two Sides, One Jiazi (traditional Chinese 60 year cycle) Seminar" is perceived as a second channel for communications between Taipei and Beijing. Speaking from a packed hall, Zheng Bijian, head of the Mainland delegation, made two remarks that left a deep impression. She said "Our vision will determine our prospects. Our thinking will offer us solutions."
The function of the seminar is to test the waters. Each side will of course express its views. Differences may arise during the seminar, whether from 60 years ago or a mere five years ago. There may be significant differences of opinion. But our vision and thinking are considerably more sophisticated than they once were, and cannot be thought of in the same terms. Consider the mainland delegation's remark that 30 years ago, Mainland China spoke of "assuming responsibility for world revolution," of "liberating Taiwan," and of "class struggle as the key." Today Zheng Bijian speaks of "Three Harmonies," specifically, international peace (he ping), domestic tranquility (he xie), and cross-strait reconciliation (he jie). Compare the present and the past. Our vision is bolder, and our thinking is freer. Twenty years ago, Beijing was saying that "The Republic of China has been destroyed." But today Liu Guosheng, President of Xiamen University, spoke of "national spheres vs. international spheres." He openly proclaimed that "China is a national sphere. It is comprised of two political authorities: the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. They sit back to back, each representing China like the two sides of the same coin." This represents an elevation of vision, and a broadening of thinking.
Zheng Bijian's interpretation allows us to borrow and fine-tune our vision and our thinking. The two sides have come a long way. Our vision does indeed determine our prospects. Our thinking does indeed offer solutions. But perhaps we should invert Zheng's formulation, and instead allow our prospects to determine our vision, and our solutions to determine out thinking.
What is vision? The main component of vision is knowledge. Mao Zedong foisted the Cultural Revolution and people's communes upon the public. He created a lethal cocktail of "Marxi/Engels/Lenin/Stalin/Mao" thinking. He did so primarily because he was intellectually ignorant. Song Jiang and Zhang Xienzhong could not control 20th century China. When Deng Xiaoping launched the "Bianshi (flog Mao's corpse) Revolution," he was forced to do so by circumstances. When he embarked on "reform and liberalization," he really wasn't sure where he was headed. Hence the metaphor of "crossing the river by feeling the stones" that has guided Beijing for the past twenty years. All of this was originally a result of intellectual uncertainty. But today, thirty years of reform and liberalization have been a huge success. Right and wrong are now clear-cut. Scientific data has replaced "satellite launches" (the exaggerated reporting of production figures). The profit motive has replaced the waving of red flags. Politics was once in command. Now knowledge rules the roost. Today the problem is no longer a lack of knowledge or a lack of vision. From this day forward, the limiting factor will be our prospects, our willingness to apply our knowledge and consult our consciences, and our determination to remain true to our ideals. Yesterday political ideology prevented us from finding a solution to our dilemma. Today we have found a solution, because our thinking is no longer constrained by political ideology. The main theme of cross-Strait relations in the future must be: "Our prospects determine our vision, our solution determines our thinking."
Given such an understanding, we were surprised by Zheng's conclusion: "peaceful reunification / one country, two systems." Actually "peaceful reunification / one country, two systems" should be considered obsolete pre-2008 thinking. Why? Because such a prospect prevents us from finding any solution. That is why the 2005 Lien/Hu Summit set forth the theory of "peaceful development." Our prospects were suddenly better. Our solution was suddenly obvious. Today we live in a post-2008 era. The "1992 Consensus" remains the overarching framework for cross-Strait policy, followed logically by "One China, Different Interpretations." This, in terms of our vision, our prospects, our thinking, and our solutions, has transcended the rhetoric of "peaceful reunification / one country, two systems." Were Zheng's remarks a case of backpedalling regarding prospects and solutions?
During the seminar the Beijing delegation said it recognized only the "1992 Consensus." It did not recognize "One China, Different Interpretations." But if even "One China, Different Interpretations" is seen as contrary to the "One China Principle," then "unification" means "I intend to swallow you up." Does such a prospect really offer any solution?
Beijing has said that "Anything is up for discussion." In fact, what the two sides need to discuss most is prospects and solutions. For example, what is "China," but a question of prospects? Must one side swallow up the other in cross-Strait politics? That is an issue pertaining to solutions.
Despite our differences, we vigorously affirm the vision and thinking of the current cross-Straits seminar. We expect that the coming 60 year cycle will offer an even broader vision, even brighter prospects, even more liberated thinking, and even more solutions for cross-Strait relations.
2009.11.16 03:37 am