The 1992 Consensus Remains IntactUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 13, 2010
Yesterday Li Yafei, deputy chairman of the Mainland China Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), proclaimed a soft landing for the recent discord over the 1992 Consensus. The 1992 Consensus is a "paper window." Recently this newspaper published an editorial urging the two sides not to poke holes in this paper window. Fortunately, it appears that the paper window is still intact.
Our editorial on the 9th urged authorities on both sides to return to the 1992 Consensus. We said that the 1992 Consensus is a work in progress, that has more room for development. It is a translucent paper window that permits the passage of light, but also provides a degree of separateness. We urged the two sides not to poke holes in this paper window.
Li Yafei's latest statement made two points. One. Opposing Taiwan independence. Two. Upholding the 1992 Consensus. But Li Yafei repeatedly stressed an even more important point. He said we should "seek commonalities, not differences." In other words, we should "shelve disputes and seek common ground."
Li Yafei said that since 2008, the basis of cross-Strait mutual trust has been: One. Opposing Taiwan independence. Two. Upholding the 1992 Consensus. Actually these are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, the 1992 Consensus equals opposition to Taiwan independence. On the other hand, the motive for supporting the 1992 Consensus in the first place, is opposition to Taiwan independence. The question has always been how the 1992 Consensus should be interpreted. The answer depends on how one defines "One China." For Li Yafei the 1992 Consensus means that "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have agreed to express their different interpretations of the One China Principle orally."
Newspapers in Taipei however published two different versions of his talk. One version was mentioned above. Another version appeared in the media that hosted his talk. Li Yafei supposedly said "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait agree to express their different interpretations of One China orally." One version says the "One China Principle." The other says "One China." The "One China Principle" has been proven correct.
One China and the One China Principle are not the same. Beijing's current expression, the "One China Principle," is broader. It sees "One China" as a deeper concept that can be further developed. In the past Beijing spoke only of One China, which had a narrower meaning. But no matter how the two sides interpret One China, the concept of One China has become a work in progress. It is no longer a rigid concept, but rather a fact that all can see. It is also the central pillar of cross-Strait "peaceful development."
In the "three old catchphrases," One China was narrowly defined to mean "There is only one China. Taiwan is a part of China. The People's Republic of China is the sole legal government of China." Today however, One China has evolved. Today Beijing speaks of "the two sides have yet to be reunified, but they are nevertheless part of One China." "Maintaining the status quo means maintaining the status of existing regulations and documents on Taiwan." "Both the Mainland and Taiwan are part of One China," "A in-progress style One China." "Contemplating the status of the Republic of China." As we can see, One China is a work in progress. It is more akin to the One China Principle, rather than the arbitrary and rigid One China of yesteryear.
Li Yafei stressed "seeking commonalities, not differences," and "shelving disputes, seeking common ground." Based on this premise, and separated by the paper window of the 1992 Consensus, Beijing speaks of "One China, different interpretations," while Taipei speaks of "different interpretations of One China." "One China, different interpretations" is subsumed under the One China Principle. "Different interpretations of One China" is also subsumed under the One China Principle. As long as the two sides "seek commonalities, not differences," this translucent paper window will allow in light while remaining intact.
Examine Li Yafei's statement under a magnifying glass. What Li Yafei said was that Beijing's interpretation of the 1992 Consensus was "different interpetations of One China." But Li said it allowed room to "seek commonalities, not differences." Taipei's interpretation of the 1992 Consensus remains "One China, different interpretations." Li Yafei may have pressed against the paper window with his finger, but he did not poke any holes in it.
For the past two decades, Taiwan has been immersed in a certain manipulative political atmosphere, one predicated upon the notion that "Taiwan independence equals love for Taiwan," that "subverting the Republic of China equals love for Taiwan." This notion argues that "not to be annexed and reunified by China equals love for Taiwan." Society on Taiwan has a severe "China Complex." One could say we have been seeking a cure for a disease that has bedeviled Taiwan for the past 60 years. Therefore, before Beijing can talk about the One China Principle, it must first forsake its "decapitation principle," which calls for the decapitation of the Republic of China. Only then can we gradually change the minds of an obdurate but influential minority calling for the "recapitation" of the Republic of China by changing it to a Republic of Taiwan. Beijing must realize that without the Republic of China, the One China Principle will lose its backing.
Allow us to once again quote this newspaper's editorial of the 7th, entitled "The One China Principle: The Undeniable Republic of China." The key to the One China Principle is how the public on Taiwan "feels about China." One may wish to consider this newspaper's "Newest Three Catchphrases." "There is only one China. The ROC and the PRC are both part of China, China's territory and sovereignty are indivisible."
What is this, if not "different expressions of One China" plus "One China, different expressions," both taken from the 1992 Consensus?
2010.08.13 02:59 am