The Door is Locked from the Inside:
Su, Tsai, and Hsieh Must Reform the DPP
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 11, 2012
Summary: The three elements of Beijing's cross-Strait policy are opposition to Taiwan independence, reaffirmation of the 1992 Consensus, and reaffirmation of the one China framework. Taipei's comeback must be the one China Constitution, one China, different interpretations, i.e., one China equals the Republic of China, the Big Roof Concept of China, i.e., the ROC is a democratic China. If the DPP wants to return to power in 2016, it must first open the locked door from the inside.
Full Text below:
Beginning today, the DPP will hold a four week long forum on Mainland issues. It has invited "all parties" to discuss cross-Strait issues. Rumors are today's topic will be "A Focus on the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Party Congress."
The DPP has been clamoring for months about a "Great [Mainland] China Policy Debate." If all that hoopla has come down to this, then it was a colossal joke.
The DPP boasted that the policy debate would be thoroughgoing. Outsiders expected such a debate. Yet suddenly we were told this ostensibly thoroughgoing debate would focus on the CCP's 18th Party Congress? The DPP's cross-Strait policy door is locked from the inside. The DPP says it wants to resolve its Mainland China policy. But how does having "all parties" banging on the DPP's door from outside do any good? The DPP has fastened a lock to the door and injected superglue into the keyhole. We hope the DPP can somehow manage to open the lock. Su Tseng-chang admits he cannot unlock the door from the inside. He does not even have the guts to call for a Mainland China policy debate inside the party. Instead he went through the motions of "seeking out different parties to focus on the CCP's 18th Party Congress." This was simply staggering. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Every DPP member and every person on Taiwan knows that the DPP's cross-Strait policy door is locked from the inside. Su Tseng-chang knows this as well. Su Tseng-chang may be afraid to launch either an open or closed-door policy debate on Mainland China policy within the DPP. But he should at least coordinate with Tsai Ing-wen and Frank Hsieh. The trio should be able to offer a cross-Strait policy that is confident, open, and well thought out. The trio could coordinate their rhetoric and their action. They could spearhead the transformation of the DPP's cross-Strait policy. They could open the door that has been locked from the inside.
The current situation is clear. Su and Tsai intend to run for president in 2016. Frank Hsieh on the other hand, wants to be the chief engineer of cross-Strait policy transition. As a result Su, Tsai, and Hsieh all want to transform the DPP's cross-Strait policy. Each of the three is a key figure who can influence the situation. But Su and Tsai will be political rivals in 2016. The two hope to benefit from the transformation. But neither wishes to offend Taiwan independence fundamentalists. Each may want the other to take the lead in the transformation of DPP cross-Strait policy. That way when the other offends the Taiwan independence fundamentalists, he or she can benefit from the other's troubles. As a result, these two may be reluctant to lead the transformation of DPP cross-Strait policy. After all, opposition from Taiwan independence fundamentalists caused Frank Hsieh's "Cross-Strait Affairs Committee" to run aground.
This is the fundamental reason for the DPP's current predicament. Su, Tsai, and Hsieh are key figures in the transformation of DPP cross-Strait policy. They are irreplaceable. But each has a hidden agenda. They cannot work together. The door is locked from the inside. Who is going to open it?
Consider current political developments. On the one hand, the prospects for the Democratic Progressive Party in 2016 are improving. On the other hand, the DPP must establish better relations with Beijing. Voter anxiety over this matter cannot be ignored. Suppose the current situation persists. Suppose the Democratic Progressive Party wins the presidential election in 2016. Suppose it is unable to transform its cross-Strait policy before the election. Once the Democratic Progressive Party assumes power, it will immediately become Beijing's hostage. Beijing will demand that the DPP explicitly renounce Taiwan independence, and reaffirm the 1992 Consensus. If the DPP refuses, Beijing will make life impossible for the DPP. It need only lure away one of Taipei's diplomatic allies, cut Mainland tourists to Taiwan by 20%, reduce orders for Taiwan's agricultural products, or refuse to sign an FTA. The ruling DPP regime would soon be in total chaos.
The Ma administration's record since its re-election in 2012 has been less than stellar. Fortunately the Ma administration has been able to stabilize cross-Strait relations. Otherwise the chaos would be unimagineable. Suppose Tsai Ing-wen had been elected in 2012. The DPP would still be wrangling over a "Cross-Strait Dialogue Working Group." Imagine the chaos that would have ensued.
The closer the DPP comes to returning to power, the more it must change is cross-Strait policy. The closer the DPP comes to returning to power, the more concerned voters will be about its cross-Strait policy. Tsai Ing-wen lost in 2012. The main reason was swing voters' deep rooted suspicions about the DPP's cross-Strait policy. The DPP will continue to face these problems in 2016. Neither Su nor Tsai can avoid them.
Su and Tsai may not like each other. But the two must work together to transform of the DPP's cross-Strait policy. They must not attempt to use the transformation to take political advantage of each other. If the transformation is successful, it will be beneficial to both of them during the 2016 election. It will also be beneficial to one of them in the event one or the other is elected. The two can refuse to work together. The two can watch each other from the sidelines. Each can hope that the other becomes trapped in a quagmire. But if they refuse to work together, the hoped for DPP transformation will evaporate into thin air. The result will be unfavorable to the presidential ambitions of both candidates. It will be especially unfavorable to the DPP in the event it returns to power. It may even become one of Taiwan's greatest political and economic disasters.
Frank Hsieh is a DPP insider. He is the one closest to this locked door. He holds the keys that can open the door. He says Taiwan independence is impossible. He says the DPP must reaffirm the Constitution of the Republic of China. He says the DPP must reaffirm the Republic of China. His rhetoric may require closer scrutiny. But he already has three of the four numbers to a four digit combination lock. Su and Tsai may find it difficult to unlock the door on their own. But they can arrive at a tacit agreement and allow Frank Hsieh to enter the final number to the combination.
The situation is clear. Beijing intends to force the DPP to abandon Taiwan independence. Until it does, it has no intention of letting up. DPP leaders such as Frank Hsieh know that Taiwan independence is impossible. This is the last number in the combination. This is the number that every DPP member and every person on Taiwan knows by heart. The problem is the DPP's door is locked from the inside. Can Su, Tsai, and Hsieh work together to open the door? If the door cannot be opened, then the DPP cannot get out. Su and Tsai of course, cannot either.
The three elements of Beijing's cross-Strait policy are opposition to Taiwan independence, reaffirmation of the 1992 Consensus, and reaffirmation of the one China framework. Taipei's comeback must be the one China Constitution, one China, different interpretations, i.e., one China equals the Republic of China, the Big Roof Concept of China, i.e., the ROC is a democratic China. If the DPP wants to return to power in 2016, it must first open the locked door from the inside.