The Constitution is the Constitution: A Spade is a Spade
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 30, 2012
Summary: The Wu/Hu Summit reached an important agreement. The two sides agreed
that their "existing constitutions" stipulate that both are part of One
China. This was the two leaders' greatest achievement. Unfortunately
the two leaders also referred to their constitutions as "existing
provisions." But everyone knows they were referring to the two sides' "existing constitutions." This is a major blind spot in a major breakthrough. The two sides must "ascend to the next level in order to see farther." The key is the wisdom and courage to call a spade a spade, and to call the constitution the constitution.
Full Text below:
The Wu/Hu Summit reached an important agreement. The two sides agreed that their "existing constitutions" stipulate that both are part of One China. This was the two leaders' greatest achievement. Unfortunately the two leaders also referred to their constitutions as "existing provisions." This constitutes a massive blind spot.
The two sides have been dealing with each other for some time now. They have gone from "mutual non-recognition" to "mutual non-repudiation." They are now just short of "mutual recognition." Westerners speak of "calling a spade a spade." The Chinese speak of "calling things by their proper name." Do we wish to open a channel for cross-Strait relations? Then we must level with ourselves. We must refer to a constitution as a constitution.
One. The public on Taiwan, and especially the DPP, must acknowledge that Taiwan independence is impossible. Taipei's strategic posture towards the Mainland must change. It must change from "oppose [Mainland] China, demand Taiwan independence," to "accept [Mainland] China, demand democracy." Taiwan cannot wish away One China or Chinese reunification. Instead, it must use democracy to define the nature of One China and to modulate the pace of reunification. Twenty-three million people living on Taiwan must reaffirm the Republic of China, as it carries on its semantic tug of war with the People's Republic of China. We must uphold the Constitution of the Republic of China. We must view it as our most valuable asset in our ongoing struggle. We must not divide the Republic of China as it confronts a centralized People's Republic of China.
Unless Mainland China vanishes from the face of the earth, Taiwan independence is impossible. To take a leaf from Tsai Ing-wen, the shrewdest strategy for the Republic of China is to uphold One China, Different Interpretations. This strategy most cloesly approximates the strategy adopted by our opponents. The public on Taiwan cannot make Mainland China vanish. But a democratic Republic of China can change Mainland China for the better. History has presented Taiwan with an arduous but grand mission, one that it cannot shirk. The Republic of China is divided as a result of Taiwan independence. We must reunite. Taiwan must conductd a democratic dialogue with 1.3 billion compatriots across the Strait. We must seize the initiative. We must assert our right to speak.
Two. Beijing must accept certain realities. Cross-Strait relations may evolve in any number of ways. They include "peaceful development," a "One China in progress," a "One China in development," a politically integrated confederation, or "reunification." But one of them can ignore or invalidate the Republic of China. Beijing must admit that One China is not the same as the forceful eradication of the Republic of China. The two are not the same, and must not be conflated. Reunification is not the same as the forceful eradication of the Republic of China. The two are not the same, and must not be conflated. After all, we are not talking about coerced reunification.
Consider "One China in development." Recognizing the Republic of China does not violate the One China Principle. Recognizing the Republic of China does not preclude reunification. Beijing is unwilling to countenance Taiwan independence and the founding of a "Nation of Taiwan." But this hardly necessitates destroying the Republic of China. On the contrary, preserving the Republic of China is the same as precluding Taiwan independence.
As this newspaper's editorials have suggested, the two sides should write into law the special political relationship between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. This formulation paraphrases Hu Jintao's words. The two sides should sign a Cross-Strait Trust Agreement. They should cease communicating through middlemen. They should refer to the constitution as the constitution. They should enter a new stage of mutual recognition. Beijing must recognize the Republic of China, in this form or that. The public on Taiwan can then reach a firmer consensus on the One China Constitution, Taiwan independence will no longer have a leg to stand on. The two sides can then adopt a "One China in progress" stance. This can lead to a "One China in development." Beijing can hardly ask the Republic of China to reaffirm its One China Constitution, then ask it to repudiate the Republic of China. That would hardly be "calling things by their proper name."
Three. The two sides must consider a "Third Concept of China." The current cross-Strait arrangement is One China, Different Intepretations, and "seeking common ground while shelving differences." It is an ingenious formulation. But it has reached a bottleneck. One China, Different Intepretations and "seeking common ground while shelving differences" reflects a "You are you, and I am me" attitude. The People's Republic of China does not recognize the Republic of China. It refuses to refer to President Ma by his title. The Republic of China does not recognize the People's Republic of China. It refuses to refer to President Hu by his title. This is not merely self-deception. It is worse. It amounts to "Two Chinas." We need a "Third Concept of China" than the sum of its parts. We need a more transcendent concept of China that will link the two sides. Only that will be a genuine One China. That of course, is the "roof theory." Otherwise the public on Taiwan will take "One China" to mean the People's Republic of China. It will not perceive the Republic of China as part of "One China." That is why the public on Taiwan has become increasingly alienated from the notion that "Taiwanese are Chinese." That is why the public on Taiwan has a diminishing sense of Chinese consciousness.
CCP leaders since Deng Xiaoping often repeat, "You will not annex me. I will not annex you." This is absolutely correct. But the language should be reworded to "The People's Republic of China will not annex the Republic of China. The Republic of China will not annex the People's Republic of China." Since we have "One China in progress," we need a "Third Concept of China." We need a transcendent China based on the roof theory, in both our imagination and in law, Only then can the two sides cease perceiving each other as "foreign nations." Only then can we look forward to a brighter future.
Four. We need an interim solution. Consider the "One China in development" concept. One China is evolving organically from one stage to another. The current "One China in progress" concept must be rooted in a "separately administered but undivided Third Concept of China." It must be written into law. Therefore we need a peace agreement or Cross-Strait Trust Agreement. An interim solution must be found. This will enable the Republic of China's One China Constitution and the People's Republic of China's One China Framework to find common ground. This will eliminate fears of Taiwan independence. This will moderate pressure for premature reunification. This will enable the two sides to approach the One China issue with a more rational attitude and clearer goals. This is what this newspaper refers to as "process orienation."
Over four short years, the Ma Ying-jeou and Hu Jintao administrations have successfully walked a pragmatic path toward "peaceful development." Their hard-won achievements merit the highest praise. Cross-strait interactions must preclude "you annexing me, me annexing you." Cross-Strait interactions must set an example for mankind.
The Wu/Hu Summit referred to the two sides' "existing provisions." But everyone knows they were referring to the two sides' "existing constitutions." This is a major blind spot in a major breakthrough. The two sides must "ascend to the next level in order to see farther." The key is the wisdom and courage to call a spade a spade, and to call the constitution the constitution.