Preconditions for a Cross-Strait Peace Agreement
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 30, 2011
Summary: President Ma Ying-jeou has proposed a cross-Strait peace agreement. His proposal spread shockwaves, at home and abroad. It has become a political football. Is his proposal feasible? It depends on whether the conditions, objective and subjective, are ripe. It is not something that can be achieved unilaterally, through wishful thinking. The time must be ripe. Only then can the two sides successfully sign a peace agreement.
Full Text Below:
President Ma Ying-jeou has proposed a cross-Strait peace agreement. His proposal spread shockwaves, at home and abroad. It has become a political football. Is his proposal feasible? It depends on whether the conditions, objective and subjective, are ripe. It is not something that can be achieved unilaterally, through wishful thinking. The time must be ripe. Only then can the two sides successfully sign a peace agreement.
From this perspective, President Ma's proposal appears too rooted in subjective wishes, and not enough in objective facts. Ma mentioned three preconditions for a peace agreement: public support, a national need, and legislative oversight. But all three were internal matters on the Taiwan side. They ignored external factors on the Mainland side. President Ma later added another precondition. He said any peace agreement would require a public referendum. This triggered a fierce debate between the Blue camp and the Green camp, But debate over the cross-Strait peace agreement was confined to its impact on the Taiwan side. For Taiwan, it was a tempest in a teapot. No wonder more and more people saw this as the main theme of the 2012 presidential election campaign. They concluded that the truth would be revealed only after the election. Amidst the uproar, Beijing calmly sat on the sidelines and watched. That was even more interesting.
Cross-strait peace is something everyone on Taiwan wants. If a piece of paper signed by both sides can bring peace and stability to the Taiwan Strait, why are people even arguing about it? The problem is inadequate discussion and an narcissistic perspective. That is why people are skeptical about its feaibility.
To compensate for this deficiency, President Ma must flesh out his framework. He must systematically address the objective preconditions. One of the most important preconditions, one that must be clarified, is that our side must first coordinate our internal and external resources. This will strengthen our bargaining position during future negotiations, and enable us to receive better political treatment.
The most obvious objective precondition pertains to Taiwan's economic and trade relationship with the Mainland. Is Taiwan's relationship to the Mainland one of dependence, or interdependence? If it is one-sided dependence on the Mainland, then Taiwan's political status will be negatively impacted once the two sides sign a peace agreement. It may even be degraded. If, on the other hand, Taiwan's relationship with the Mainland is one of interdependence, then the two sides signing of a peace agreement will be a pragmatic affair. It will merely reflect the status quo, in which there is no call for [immediate] reunification, no independence, and no use of force. In other words, it will merely stabilize the current cross-Strait peace by writing it into law. It will establish a solid foundation for a win-win relationship.
Therefore during our current stage of economic development and planning, we must promote cross-Strait economic interdependence. Taiwan urgently needs the vast Mainland domestic market. On the other hand, it must also preserve its long-term economic advantages, The Mainland values and seeks cutting-edge technology, advanced management techniques, and superior cultural creative ability. To this end, our government has long called for the establishment of an Asia-Pacific operations center, to be Implemented as soon as possible.
More importantly, Taiwan must become the economic hub that links the Mainland with the outside world. It must help the Mainland economy to internationalize. It must help the international economy to penetrate the Mainland market. To this purpose, the government must integrate Taiwan's international web of human and economic connections. It must make a concerted effort to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with other nations. It must actively participate in the system of international economic cooperation. The full internationalization of Taiwan's economy will increase our say in our own affairs. It will help maintain reciprocity in cross-Strait political negotiations. This basis for cross-Strait economic relations and trade is mutual interdependence. Only with mutual interdependence, can there be mutual trust. Only with mutual trust, can there be genuine equality.
President Ma's cross-Strait peace agreement proposal is courageous. and demonstrates unexpected initiative. He seized the intiative. He may have enabled our side to strike a more favorable deal. Seizing the initiative is better than passively sitting at the negotiating table. But seizing the initiative requires detailed follow up. Detailed follow up increases our bargaining power. Otherwise, initiative alone, without preparation for aggressive negotiations, is unlikely to achieve positive results. Foremost is the need to integrate economic power and autonomy. If this is carried out successfully, other matters, such as arriving at a domestic consensus, or agreement between political parties, will be easy.
The objective preconditions for a cross-Strait peace agreement are more important than the subjective preconditions. Our government must strengthen our bargaining position. It must solicit public support. Without public support, then all of its efforts will be for naught.