1992 Consensus is the Key to a Tsai Ing-wen Pardon for Chen Shui-bian
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 5, 2011
Legislator Chiu Yi says that Tsai Ing-wen has reached a secret accord with Chen Shui-bian. If Tsai Ing-wen is elected president, she will pardon Chen Shui-bian.
Chiu Yi's revelations contained hardly any direct evidence. But they also provoke little skepticism. The special meeting took place in the Guishan Penitentiary. The entire event was videotaped. This made it impossible for the two parties to openly make any flagrant quid pro quo deals. But on March 15, according to Chiu Yi, Chen Shui-bian said that "Both Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang should make clear their positions on a presidential pardon." "If they refuse to state their positions, how can I endorse their candidacies?" In early April, Tsai Ing-wen spokesman Cheng Wen-chan visited Guishan Penitentiary. Chiu Yi said Tsai was dropping Chen a hint. On April 12, Chen Shui-bian issued a statement entitled "Ten Reasons to Support Tsai Ing-wen." This sequence of events is worth pondering.
Were Chiu Yi's revelations true or false? That needs to be seen. But Chen Shui-bian hopes Tsai Ing-wen will pardon him. In the event she is elected, Tsai Ing-wen cannot avoid the question of whether to pardon Chen. On this we need have no doubt. Considering the situation the two are in, it is highly likely the two made a "I'll help you get elected if you grant me a pardon" political deal. The key is the 1992 Consensus.
Tsai Ing-wen has strong political momentum. But the 1992 Consensus remains her biggest Achilles Heel. Her past refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus remains an albatross around her neck. If she can rid herself of this albatross, she will be "a tiger who has sprouted wings." Her chances of being elected will skyrocket. Will Tsai Ing-wen be able to extricate herself from the 1992 Consensus? The answer lies with Chen Shui-bian. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian was elected president. Just prior to his visit to the United States, he publicly declared that he considered One China, Different Interpretations and the 1992 Consensus acceptable. But the next day, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen denied that Chen had made any such statement. She forced Chen Shui-bian to swallow his words. For the next eight years, from beginning to end, Chen was forced to consistently repudiate the 1992 Consensus. He never again returned to his "new centrist path." Tsai Ing-wen is afraid to recognize the 1992 Consensus today because she is afraid of what Chen Shui-bian might do. If Tsai accepts the 1992 Consensus, and Chen Shui-bian lashes out at her, Tsai Ing-wen will find herself in a pickle. That is how the 1992 Consensus became a political lever by which Chen Shui-bian is able to control Tsai Ing-wen.
If Chen Shui-bian wants Tsai Ing-wen to pardon him, he must first help Tsai Ing-wen get elected. Today the 1992 Consensus is virtually the sole obstacle standing in the way of Tsai Ing-wen's election victory. If Chen Shui-bian pulls his punches on the 1992 Consensus, in exchange for a pardon from Tsai Ing-wen, this would be the ultimate win/win political deal.
Consider the following scenario for the upcoming presidential election. Tsai Ing-wen suddenly accepts the 1992 Consensus, in toto, or in part. Perhaps she declares ambiguously that she no longer opposes the 1992 Consensus. Chen Shui-bian voices no objections. Perhaps he declares that "one nation on each side" is another form of "One China, Different Interpretations." Perhaps he declares that "times have changed, circumstances are different," and voices support and praise for Tsai Ing-wen's new position. Taiwan independence elements bite their tongues. The Green Camp reaches a tacit understanding, and allows Tsai Ing-wen to squeak by without objection. Suddenly, attitudes about the 1992 Consensus change, overnight. This is not inconceivable. The key lies with Chen Shui-bian. Would Chen Shui-bian be willing to swallow his resentment over Tsai Ing-wen's past stance on the 1992 Consensus? Would he be willing to grant Tsai Ing-wen more maneuveuring room on cross-Strait policy, in exchange for a pardon? This would be a partnership requiring him to put up no money. He would be only too happy to arrive at such a secret accord with Tsai Ing-wen.
We have long maintained that Tsai Ing-wen must accept the 1992 Consensus. But she may use a pardon for Chen Shui-bian as a bargaining chip, in exchange for recognizing the 1992 Consensus. If Tsai accepts the 1992 Consensus, the DPP will be forced to change its strategic posture on the One China Constitution. It will be forced to forsake Taiwan independence and support "One China, Different Interpretations." Unless it makes this major shift, it cannot win the confidence of the public on Taiwan, the Mainland authorities, and the international community. Will Chen and Tsai accept the 1992 Consensus? Consider their stands on the 18% preferential interest rate, the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Plant, and nuclear power generation. They changed their positions at the slightest provocation. They treated these matters as nothing more than campaign promises -- made to be broken. A major issue affecting the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has devolved into a political deal benefitting two individuals. This is something the public would not tolerate. But the DPP has demonstrated its willingness to engage in all sorts of dirty tricks and dirty deals. What wouldn't they be willing to do? That is why the public is naturally concerned about whether Tsai and Chen have reached a "secret accord."
The more Chen Shui-bian expresses support for Tsai Ing-wen, the more the public wonders whether Tsai Ing-wen will pardon Chen Shui-bian if she is elected president. Suppose Tsai Ing-wen is elected. Members of the Green Camp will surely demand that Chen Shui-bian be pardoned. They will demand that President Tsai implement "transitional justice." If she does not play ball, her presidency could be at risk. Tsai Ing-wen might cite other reasons for granting Chen a pardon. But she must not use the 1992 Consensus as a bargaining chip.
Such Machievellian transactions would not be the result of genuine reforms on cross-Strait policy within the Green Camp, They would be the result of a conspiracy by Chen and Tsai to dupe voters. Could dirty deals such as these ever bring peace and prosperity to a country? Could they ever escape the judgment of history?