Beheading the Republic of China: Beijing Should Reconsider
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 18, 2010
Zhang Nianchi of the East Asia Institute in Shanghai has posted a special article in the May edition of the China Review. The title of the webpage is: "Establish the Preconditions Necessary to Resolve the Republic of China Conundrum."
We do not know whether this article reflects the thinking of decision-making circles within the CCP. But if Beijing wants a key that can unlock cross-Strait problems, the above article should be considered a valuable draft.
Zhang Nianchi wrote that he spoke with a "member of the public on Taiwan." That member of the public told Zhang that "[Beijing's] refusal to recognize the Republic of China, is akin to chopping off our head. What good does it do to leave the four limbs and the five organs intact?" Zhang Nianchi said people who think like this do not necessarily support Taiwan independence.
Actually "members of the public on Taiwan" who think like this could never be supporters of Taiwan independence. The goal of Taiwan independence is to replace the Republic of China's head. The goal of Taiwan independence is to use the Republic of China as a shell company, in order to engage in backdoor listing. The goal of Taiwan independence is to exploit the Republic of China, to assert that "Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country. Its current name is the Republic of China." The implication being that "Its future name will be the Republic of Taiwan." Such political sleight of hand is another matter than can be discussed some other time. The Beijing authorities must realize that the fundamental reason Taiwan independence has been able to grow is that Beijing refuses to recognize the Republic of China, and wants to chop off the Republic of China head. Beijing's desire to chop off the Republic of China head inspired the Taiwan independence movement to "replace the Republic of China head."
Beijing understands of course that preserving the Republic of China head is the best way to shrink the Taiwan independence movement's maneuvering room. But this is merely a passive means of addressing cross-Strait problems. As for active means, regardless of whether we are looking at
The future may involve the maintenance of the status quo. It may involve signing ECFA or a peace agreement. It may involve the establishment of an EU model or a confederation. It may even involve reunification. But no matter what, Taiwan must be entrusted to the Republic of China. If the Republic of China head is chopped off, what is there left to talk about?
Actually the Beijing authorities know this. They know that without the Republic of China, there can be no "peaceful development" of cross-Strait relations. But in practice Beijing remains mired in serious self-contradictions. For example, CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao said that "Although the two sides have yet to be reunified, the mainland and Taiwan have always belonged to one China. This is not merely our position. It also appears in existing regulations and documents on Taiwan." The "regulations and documents" Hu Jintao was referring to was of course the Republic of China Constitution. President Hu Jintao made these remarks following the passage of the Anti-Secession Law. He meant to say that the Republic of China Constitution is also a "One China Constitution." He asked how Taiwan independence can be tolerated, given that it is "unconstitutional?" But such an argument contains an obvious and serious contradiction. Since Beijing refuses to recognize the Republic of China, and wants to cut off the Republic of China's head, how can it demand that the public on Taiwan abide by the Republic of China Constitution and support the Republic of China?
In his article Zhang Nianchi discussed a variety of theories on cross-Strait relations. Among them was the "glass theory" proposed by the UDN News. The "glass theory" compares the Republic of China to a glass. Republic of China citizens on Taiwan are akin to the water in the glass. If cross-Strait relations dispenses with the glass, what happens to the water? Zhang Nianchi's said "the public on Taiwan is the water in the glass." This differs slightly from the UDN News understanding. As we see it, Taiwan refers not merely to the public, but also to a free and democratic politico-economic system. Given the "glass theory" metaphor, how can the Beijing authorities refuse to recognize the Republic of China Constitution on the one hand, and expect the public on Taiwan to respect its "One China Constitution?" Is this not the same reasoning as "the existence of the glass ensures the existence of the water / the breaking of the glass means the loss of the water?"
Consider the issue at a deeper level. The Republic of China is a liberal democracy that elects its own president. Unless Beijing resorts to military force, how can it avoid dealing with the Republic of China? If Beijing uses non-peaceful means to swallow up this liberal democracy, one that belongs to China and is opposed to Taiwan independence, it will be committing a grievous sin against human civilization and against Chinese culture. Today's cross-Strait conflict is no longer merely a civil war between the KMT and the CCP. It concerns global civilization and the Republic of China's liberal democracy. It concerns China's sons and daughters down through the ages, and how we should deal with this liberal democracy that belongs to China and is opposed to Taiwan independence. Isn't "chopping of its head" or "smashing the glass" incompatible with "peaceful development?"
Zhang Nianchi is political consultant to the Beijing authorities. He embraces Chinese civilization and understands Taiwan. The UDN News has advocated "process orientation" instead of "goal orientation." Zhang can be considered "process oriented." If we have correctly understood his arguments, he advocates "establishing the preconditions necessary to resolve the Republic of China Conundrum." Zhang Nianchi's article identifies the real cross-Strait "conundrum." Beijing must deal with the Republic of China. His is an innovative and practical cross-Strait policy proposal.
The Beijing authorities must recognize that Taiwan independence is largely the result of pressure from Beijing. Even Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian's moves toward independence were primarily the result of Beijing preventing them from taking the "Republic of China" path. Beijing now understands that the "One China Constitution" is the legal umbilical cord that connects the two sides. Therefore it ought to view the Republic of China from the perspective of the "glass theory." It may wish eventually to discuss the "roof theory," or a peace agreement, or a confederation, or even reunification. But if Beijing does not allow the public on Taiwan to feel that the Republic of China is part of China, then it cannot make them think of themselves as Chinese. Nor can it elevate cross-Strait relations to the level of "peaceful development." In short, in order to prevent Taiwan independence, Beijing must not chop off the Republic of China head. In order to harmonize the two sides, Beijing must not shatter the Republic of China glass. The UDN News began expressing these views on cross-Strait relations beginning with "Six New Years Day Editorials."
Zhang Nian Wang Chi was the late Wang Daohan's right hand man. In 1997 Wang Daohan proposed an "In Progress Style One China." The UDN News has made a major revision to his thinking. It has changed a "One China in which the Republic of China has been eliminated" to a "One China in which the Republic of China has been preserved." Zhang Nianchi advocates "establishing the preconditions necessary to resolve the Republic of China Conundrum." This may be seen as a variant of the "In Progress Style One China." He voices many caveats in his article. But he maintains that "issues of sovereignty are all matters of perception." His vision is bold, his courage commendable, and his words admirable.
How should we deal with the Republic of China? Our "Six New Years Day Editorials" suggest that the more we move toward the 1992 Consensus and "One China, Different Interpretations," the more cross-Strait relations will undergo "peaceful development." The more rational the cross-Strait process will become, and the clearer cross-Strait goals will be.
"Chopping off the Republic of China head" and "peaceful development" are mutually contradictory. If we uphold "One China, Different Interpretations," we already have "One China." We can already ensure against backsliding. Conditions can only improve. Why subject "One China" to the vagaries of the future?
2010.05.18 02:39 am