Peace is Essential, Reunification is OptionalUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 30, 2010
Yang Chiu-hsing has resigned from the DPP and is running as an independent. He has proposed a novel perspective on cross-Strait relations. He said we should realize that the relationship between Taipei and Beijing is no longer a hostile relationship.
Why were relations across the Strait hostile? Reason One. Some on Taiwan wanted to promote de jure Taiwan independence. Beijing was opposed. Hence the hostility. Reason Two. Beijing wanted to reunify the nation by "gobbling up Taipei." Taipei resisted. Hence the hostility. Reason Three. Reasons One and Two could well lead to war. Hence the hostility.
Therefore, if the two sides wish to change their relationship from one of hostility to one of harmony, the solution is "no [short term] reunification, no independence, and no use of force." The reasoning behind this solution is sound. The fact that it is President Ma Ying-jeou's proposal ought to be irrelevant. In fact, if Ma had not been the one to propose it, some opponents might not feel so compelled to oppose it. People might better be able to appreciate its soundness. One might just as easily rephrase it as "confront reality, ensure peaceful development."
In recent years, "opposition to [short term] reunification" has gained ground. Taipei, Washington, and Beijing have reached a tacit agreement to "maintain the status quo." This has not ruled out reunification. But it has significantly relaxed pressures and tensions associated with reunification. Furthermore, the Ma administration's explicit policy of "no [short term] reunification" as an explicit policy is an unprecedented breakthrough. A precondition of Ma's policy is of course, opposition to independence as well. "One China, different interpretations" can be regarded as "no reunification, no independence." It can also be regarded as "both reunification and independence." Beijing has made an international commitment not to "unilaterally change the status quo." It has argued that "although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they are nevertheless inseparable parts of one China." It has argued that "although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they can reexamine their special relationship from a pragmatic perspective." It is even willing to "discuss the status of the Republic of China." Beijing's arguments show that the definition of reunification is open to interpretation. They show that pressure to reunify has eased.
The main cause of hostile cross-Strait relations was Taiwan independence. The global scenario has evolved to where Taiwan independence is no longer a feasible solution to cross-Strait problems. All Taiwan independence can do is generate cross-Strait hostility. Taiwan independence cannot solve Taiwan's internal problems. Its primary purpose is to generate internal divisions on Taiwan for the sake of short term political advantage. Taiwan independence has generated cross-Strait hostility, but has not harmed a hair on Beijing's head. It has fostered internal divisions on Taiwan, and ripped apart its society. Isn't this hostility precisely what Yang Chiu-hsing characterized as "unnecessary conflict?"
"No reunification, no independence" are relative and complimentary concepts. If Taiwan does not move toward independence, Beijing can relax its pressures for reunification. If Beijing relaxes its pressures for reunification, that may weaken, moderate, and transform pressures for independence. They key for the ruling government of the Republic of China is to preclude Taiwan independence. Only by precluding Taiwan independence, can it maintain a situation with "no reunification, no war." Only then can it promote ECFA as the basis for cross-Strait peaceful development.
Unfortunately, the Democratic Progressive Party cannot bring itself to forsake Taiwan independence. It remains committed to perpetuating hostile relations, both in cross-Strait and internal affairs. It is being held hostage by Taiwan independence elements, unable to break free. Regarding ECFA, the DPP may wish to resolve cross-Strait hostilities. But as long as the DPP remains committed to Taiwan independence, it must insist on hostile relations. How can it possibly express approval of ECFA? As long as it wishes to abolish ECFA if and when it returns to power, it must incite increased cross-Strait hostility. It is convinced that only by rejecting ECFA, can it achieve Taiwan independence and found a new nation.
The Democratic Progressive Party continues to see Taiwan independence as the opposite of reunification. It seems to think that if it fails to advocate Taiwan independence, then it is "pandering to Beijing and selling out Taiwan," and "endorsing reunification." But years of agitation have made clear that political struggles on Taiwan involve mainly "Taiwan independence vs. opposition to Taiwan independence," rather than "Taiwan independence vs. reunification." As mentioned earlier, President Ma also advocates "no reunification, no independence." Even President Hu Jintao has diluted "peaceful reunification," reframing it as "peaceful development." One might say that the main goal of the authorities on both sides, as well as the majority of the public, is peace rather than [short term] reunification.
Yang Chiu-hsing says the relationship between Taipei and Beijing is no longer a hostile one. This ought to be the greatest common denominator in cross-Strait relations, as well as in local politics. Even the DPP knows better than to publicly advocate hostile cross-Strait relations. The DPP's political Achilles Heel is not its opposition to reunification, but rather its demands for Taiwan independence. It is possible to maintain peace if the two sides do not reunify, at least for the time being. But if the government on Taiwan demands independence, only hostile relations are possible. When it comes to cross-Strait relations, Taiwan independence is the antonym of peace.
Cross-Strait relations must be based on peace. Peaceful development is possible even if one "opposes reunification." It is possible even if one insists that the two sides "have yet to be reunified." It is possible even if one advocates "temporarily delaying reunification." It is possible even if one "wonders whether reunification is feasible."
Peacefully promoting development, and promoting the development of peace is possible only if one maintains cross-Strait peaceful development. Only then can one establish the conditions necessary for long term, beneficial, democratic development. Only then can one achieve a permanent cross-Strait peace.
2010.08.30 01:44 am