One China: Undivided But Separately Administered
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 17, 2011
President Ma spoke out recently at a Chinese New Years tea party. He said that in order to comply with the 1992 Consensus and "One China, Different Interpretations," from this day forward the government would refer to Beijing as "the other side" or "the Mainland," and not "China."
Ma's comments can be interpreted two ways. One. The "One China" in "One China, Different Interpretations," refers to the Republic of China. Therefore the other side must not be referred to as "China." Two. The "One China" in "One China, Different Interpretations," refers to a third concept of China, one that transcends both the Republic of China and the Peoples Republic of China. Both the ROC and the PRC are part of this Third Concept of China. Therefore the other side must not be referred to as "China."
Beijing has also moved toward this Third Concept of One China in recent years. The media on Taiwan is already in the habit of referring to the other side as "China." This has alarmed and worried the Beijing authorities. Such usage smacks of "Taiwan and China, One Nation on Each Side." In cross-Strait relations, when the public on Taiwan refers to the Mainland as "China," it reflects a sense of alienation and differentiation.
In the past Beijing proclaimed that "The PRC Government is the sole government of all China," and that "One China means the People's Republic of China." As a result, the Republic of China found it difficult to persuade other nations that it still represented China. Besides, Beijing was determined to "annihilate the Republic of China." As a result, Beijing "de-Sinized" the name "Republic of China," both internationally, and on Taiwan. This frustrated the public on Taiwan. They gave up all hope of being "China" or being "Chinese." They had been humiliated. They were fearful. Their political identity as "China" and "Chinese" was steadily diluted. It was gradually replaced by a sense of being "Taiwanese." In other words, Beijing's past insistence that "One China means the Peoples Republic of China" was the the root cause of the de-Sinicization of the Republic of China and the de-Sinicization of the public on Taiwan. In recent years, Beijing has begun to realize this. This is the main reason it has begun leaning toward a "Third Concept of One China."
Beijing has made several attempts to do so. For example, the so-called "Three New Phrases" argued that "There is only one China in the world. Both the Mainland and Taiwan are part of this one China." This definition of China connotes and denotes the "roof theory" and the "Third Concept." In another example, Beijing argued that "the cross-Strait status quo is defined in existing regulations and documents on Taiwan." Beijing was referring to the Republic of China's "One China Constitution." In yet another example, Hu Jintao reiterated that "Although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they nevertheless belong to one China." The status quo is perceived a "continued political confrontation -- a legacy of the Chinese Civil War of the late 1940s." The status quo is perceived as "an undivided but separately administered China." One might say that after 2008, new opportunities have been present to both sides. Beijing's cross-Strait policy has changed from the "annihilation of the Republic of China," to the "preservation of the Republic of China."
Compare President Ma's recent declaration to Beijing's. Both sides have have subtly altered their definitions of "One China." They no longer insist that either the Republic of China or the Peoples Republic of China is the sole government of China. Instead, they are attempting to establish a new way of thinking, in which Taiwan and the Mainland, or the ROC and the PRC, are both part of one China. They both view "One China" as a "Third Concept" or as the "Roof Theory."
The Ma administration speaks of "One China, Different Interpretations." Hu Jintao speaks of a China which "has yet to be reunified, but nevertheless remains a single China." Both are describing an "undivided but separately administered China," that is a "Third Concept of China." Do the two sides want "peaceful development?" Do they want to uphold "One China, Different Interpretations," or a China which "has yet to be reunified, but nevertheless remains a single China?" If so, then the public on Taiwan must feel that the Republic of China is part of China. Only then will they feel that they are part of China and that they are Chinese. If on the other hand, Beijing de-Sinicizes the Republic of China, it will de-Sinicize Taiwan. It will de-Sinicize the public on Taiwan. Consider cross-Strait affairs. A recent editorial argued that if we wish to sign a "peace agreement," we cannot refuse to recognize that the ROC government was one of the two warring parties, and must be one of the two peacemaking parties. This newspaper spoke of the "Glass Theory," in which Taiwan is the water, and the ROC is the glass. As long as the glass remains, so does the water. Once the glass is broken, the water spills out.
Neither side rules out cross-Strait reunification. But reunification will not be easy. We have been presented with a rare and fleeting opportunity. The two sides' "interim goal" should be to institutionalize and concretize "One China, Different Interpretations," or "One China which has yet to be reunified, but nevertheless remains a single China." This newspaper spoke of "connectedness," and how it was better than "unity." This is what it meant. "One China" must be promoted to the level of "roof theory," to the level of a "Third Concept." Actually this is merely an extension of President Ma's demand that the other side be referred to as "the Mainland," rather than "China." It is merely an extension of Beijing's statement that "the Mainland and Taiwan are both part of one China," It is what this newspaper meant by "Three New Phrases." "There is only one China in the world. Both the ROC and the PRC are part of that one China, China's sovereignty and territory must not be divided."
A New Concept has presented itself: an undivided but separately administered China. We urge both the ruling administration and opposition parties to consider this new direction.