One Country, Two Governments: Blossoms from a Dead Branch
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 24, 2011
Chu Shulong is a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Chu published a paper at the Brookings Institute in Washington, advancing a "one country, two governments" concept. He urges the two sides to maintain the status quo of "one China, different interpretations." He says they should accept each other and recognize each other as the "central government" within "one China."
In the past, Beijing was strongly opposed to "one country, two governments." Chu Shulong knows this. Nevertheless he came forward with this proposal. He has promoted it three times in three years. Policymakers in Beijing however, have yet speak out against his proposal. As a result, scholars on Taiwan suspect Chu Shulong is "testing the waters." Their judgment is consistent with past experience.
Are policymakers in Beijing intentionally releasing a trial balloon? Perhaps they are playing along with the release of a trial balloon? Will this this line of thought become Beijing's policy? If so, it would be the biggest change in Beijing's policy in 60 years. To use Chu Shulong's language, the "central governments" in Taipei and Beijing must go from mutual denial of each other's status as a central government, to mutual acknowledgement of each other's status as a central government. Chu said that for officials on the two sides to address each other's leaders as "Mister" is abnormal. What he means is that when Chen Yunlin met Ma Ying-jeou, he should have referred to him as "President Ma."
Actually, Chu Shulong's understanding is a variation on the "big roof theory." Many variations of this cross-Strait perspective exist, on Taiwan and internationally. Even on the Mainland one hears talk of a "national sphere theory," of "Confronting the Existence of the Republic of China," and of how "Beheading (the Republic of China) is not easy." They all go around in circles. But they all arrive at the same spot. Today, Chu Shulong's proposal has caught the public eye, because for Beijing, "one country, two governments" remains taboo. Also, "one country, two governments" cuts the Gordian Knot at the crux of the cross-Strait impasse. Both the government and the opposition on the Mainland must surmount this political taboo. They must transform "one country, two governments" into a long-term solution for the cross-Strait impasse. This would constitute a macro level contribution to cross-Strait development.
Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office has refrained from commenting on Chu Shulong's proposal. Chu Shulong has not been shy about the topic, and continues to grant interviews. This suggests that the incident may have gone beyond the "testing the waters" stage. We suggest that the Taiwan Affairs Office respond with something along the lines of "we respect diversity of thought," or with a mantra such as "all issues are open to discussion." Otherwise it should continue saying "no comment." It should not burn its bridges, because "one country, two governments" does not violate the "one China principle."
The ROC government is holding its presidential election. This is not the time to discuss issues such as "one country, two governments." But if "one country, two governments" becomes a topic in future cross-Strait policy discussions, it will inevitably reduce consideration of Taiwan Independence as an possibility. The "one country, two governments" proposal may not be 100% consistent with the "one China, different interpretations." But it could be considered a variation on "one China, different interpretations." We should view it positively, as well-meaning. Both "one country, two governments" and "one China, two governments" start by recognizing the status quo. They maintain the status quo, then attempt to improve the situation; Therefore if actual policy debate begins, and a well thought out policy is presented, most of the public on Taiwan will understand and accept it.
Chu Shulong insists that "one country, two governments" already exists. The KMT government in Nanjing at one time recognized the CCP's Border Region Government. He said that "one country, two governments" has already been incorporated into the "five visions" issued by the KMT and CCP, and many other arguments advanced by Beijing, He said the two sides "already see things this way, but have yet to implement them." His perspective is credible. There is evidence for it. Yesterday this newspaper published an editorial, reiterating a "third concept of China, a China with divided rule, but undivided sovereignty and territory." At the macro level, this could be considered part of "one country, two governments." The difference between the two is that the "third concept of China" has slightly different connotations.
Actually, "one country, two governments" is the most straightforward "big roof theory." But past political constraints made mention of it taboo, As a result, a wide range of euphemisms for "one country, two governments" that shied from using the expression "one country, two governments." began to appear. Everyone assumed the expression "one country, two governments" could not longer be used. But Chu Shulong reintroduced it into the cross-Strait dialogue. Was he really "testing the waters?" Or did both the government and the opposition on the Chinese mainland give this taboo word a free pass? If so, this may enable the two sides to seek common solutions to cross-Strait problems.
If one examines the details of the "big roof theories," and "one country, two governments," one discovers a multitude of variations on "one country, two governments." None of them however, are at odds with the main thrust of the cross-Strait thought, without which there can be no solution. The "one country, two governments" concept was considered dead. Now however, it has once again made headlines. It can be likened to a bloom emerging from a dead branch, It comes as something of a shock, but also as a ray of hope.
2011.06.24 02:55 am