Taipei and Beijing Should Establish New GoalsUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 2, 2010
Lai Hsing-yuan recently issued a statement in the United States. Li Yafei flew to Taiwan and issued a response. Since then, cross-Strait relations appear to have undergone a subtle change. Beijing appears unhappy with the Ma administration's slow progress or even back-sliding on cross-Strait policy. Even worse, Beijing appears to be losing faith in the Ma administration's sincerity vis a vis cross-Strait policy. The latter is of course far more worrisome than the former.
Let us first address the issue of trust. The Republic of China government on Taiwan has adopted democracy. Therefore, it is more difficult for whoever is in power to strike a political balance between cross-Strait and internal policy. The Ma administration upholds the One China Constitution. Strategically it upholds a policy of One China, Different Interpretations. It still upholds a One China Constitution. Tactically it upholds a policy of "no reunification, no independence, and no war." This also involves upholding a One China Constitution, and lays a foundation for cross-Strait "peaceful development." It also forms the consitutional and legal basis for the Ma administration's rule on Taiwan. Therefore what reason would anyone have to think he would ever abandon the One China Constitution?
Does the One China Constitution violate the One China Principle? Does the One China Constitution, preclude the One China Principle? If not, how can anyone claim that cross-Strait relations have changed? On Taiwan, some people think the "Republic of China" that Ma Ying-jeou upholds is no longer the original "Republic of China." Some say he has gradually hollowed out the 1992 Consensus to where even One China, Different Interpretations is tantamount to Taiwan independence or an independent Taiwan under the name of the Republic of China. Meanwhile the Green Camp accuses Ma Ying-jeou of "pandering to [Mainland] China, selling out Taiwan, and advocating ultimate reunification." As we can see, whoever is in power on Taiwan is going to find it difficult to strike a balance across the political spectrum when it comes to cross-Strait policy. But no one can plausibly accuse Ma Ying-jeou of violating the One China Constitution, or advocating Taiwan independence or an independent Taiwan. The One China Constitution is the constitutional and legal foundation of the Republic of China and the Taiwan region. We do not believe the Ma administration would undermine the very basis of its own rule.
Now let us address the pace of progress. More progress has been made during the two years since 2008, than any other time over the past 60 years. Progress over the past two years has been the most intensive and concentrated ever, and has yielded the most results. On this no one can have any doubts. Some feel progress has been so rapid it ought to be slowed down. Others feel it is still not fast enough. The biggest disagreement is over when major political issues should be addressed. On this issue, different parties hold different views. This leads to at least two questions. One. Are "political issues" really "reunification issues?" Are reunification issues the only issues? If so, naturally one is going to be impatient and eager to pick up the pace. Two. Isn't progress on issues such as ECFA an equally important indicator of progress? If so, why the big hurry on "political issues?" One might even be inclined to moderating the pace.
Cross-Strait trust and the pace of cross-Strait progress are linked. To understand how, one must define what one means by "political issues." This newspaper published a series of "Six New Year's Day Editorials" on cross-Strait relations. We pointed out that the two sides should "establish clearer goals by beginning with a rational process." We pointed out that a more rational process would accelerate the pace of cross-Strait progress. and that the establishment of clearer goals would increase cross-Strait trust. To clarify our common goals, we must increase our mutual trust. If clarifying our common goals becomes difficult, progress will naturally slow.
Taiwan independence is clearly no longer feasible. Therefore the One China Constitution and the One China Principle are national standards that no Republic of China administration can abandon. Therefore, in cross-Strait relations, mutual trust should no longer be a problem, and no longer the cause of trouble. The real problem is how to clarify our common goals. This requires mutual trust. The real problem is how to establish a rational process. This will have a direct impact on the pace of progress.
Yesterday the cross-Strait edition of this newspaper reported a highly instructive development. Zhou Zhihuai, Deputy Director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Taiwan Studies, said that perhaps the two sides should seek a link between the One China Constitution and the One China Framework. The two sides should attempt to consolidate their consensus and establish shared values. We would like to emphasize something Zhou Zhihuai said, namely that if the two sides wish to introduce policy innovations, they must first make conceptual innovations.
Zhou Zhihuai spoke of policy innovations. This newspaper's "Six New Year's Day Editorials" spoke of "goal clarifications," or "goal innovations." Zhou spoke of finding a link between the One China Constitution and the One China Framework. This newspaper referred to it as the "roof theory plus the glass theory."
Let us return to "goal clarification." Is the ultimate goal for the two sides "reunification" and nothing else? Does "reunification" mean the elimination of the Republic of China? Is cross-Strait innovation possible? Is a more pragrmatic alternative possible? One that does not exact so high a price for so little political gain? As Zhou Zhihuai put it, is cross-Strait policy innovation possible? In other words, can we establish a link between the One China Constitution and the One China Framework? Actually, this is what many Mainland scholars mean when they speak of "positioning the Republic of China." Clearly Zhou Zhihuai is not the only one thinking along these lines.
Actually, both sides have many clear-headed people. One must not be confused by foolish people raising alarms about trust and the pace of progress. We must begin with a rational process, and use it to clarify our goals. We must begin with a rational process, and use it to think creatively. We hope the two sides can find new goals. We believe the two sides will find new goals.