Frank Hsieh Crosses Taiwan Strait, Honors Forefathers: Republic of China Reintegrated
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 2, 2012
Summary: Frank Hsieh has offered his own estimation of the consequences of his trip. He says the route may be impassable. Or the route may be a majestic, tree-lined boulevard. But it has been there in front of the DPP all the time. The problem was the DPP refused to stop and look. Frank Hsieh is now willing to take the first step. The public should encourage him. The public should remain optimistic.
Full Text below:
Frank Hsieh's visit to the Mainland has been approved. He is calling his visit a "trailblazing journey." He explained the reason for his visit. He said "If the KMT and CCP joining forces to counter the DPP becomes the norm, I worry that a Democratic Progressive Party return to power will become the stuff of fantasy." That reason is not good enough. Frank Hsieh should take this journey because 23 million citizens of the Republic of China on Taiwan have ripped the nation apart at the seams. The nation must stitched back together. This is the first step in that process. From now on, cross-Strait interactions must return to coopetition between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China.
The core of the Taiwan problem, is that the Democratic Progressive Party refuses to recognize the Republic of China. It merely uses for the purpose of "backdoor listing." But as long as the Republic of China remains divided, even the Democratic Progressive Party's return to power will not solve its problems. Frank Hsieh recognizes the "one China Constitution." Therefore the first thing he must do is stitch the Republic of China together again. Whether the DPP can return to power is of secondary importance.
Frank Hsieh's first stop is Xiamen, to honor his forefathers. His voyage has a number of implications. One. Twelve years ago his trip to Xiamen was blocked. Today he is dusting himself off and continuing on his way. Two. He is crossing the Strait and arriving on the Mainland. The first thing he will do upon arrival will be to visit his ancestors' graves and pay homage to his forefathers. How are we to interpret this action? Is the "China" in Frank Hsieh's heart the "China" from whence his forefathers came? Frank Hsieh's point of departure during this journey, is the "Republic of China." The Republic of China is where Frank Hsieh was born. Taiwan's retrocession to the Republic of China occurred in 1945. Hsieh was born in 1946. The "Republic of China" Hsieh refers to when discussing cross-Strait issues, is the "Republic of China" that has been engaged in coopetition with the "People's Republic of China" for the past 60 years.
Frank Hsieh will pay his respects to his ancestors. Does he intend to express a viewpoint or a establish a framework? During yesterday's press conference, he was asked about the "one country, two cities" remark he made 12 years ago. He said that according to our respective constitutions, the two cities, Kaohsiung and Xiamen, are both cities within the same country. The only difference is "I'm referring to the Republic of China. They (the other side) are referring to another country." Recently rumors emerged that Frank Hsieh repudiated the "one China Constitution." But yesterday he said his intent was "to use the Constitution of the Republic of China to respond to one particular issue." This is the main thrust of Frank Hsieh's rhetoric. It matters not what terminology he invents. Frank Hsieh remains firmly within the framework of the "one China Constitution," "one China, different interpretations," "one country, two regions," or "two sides of the Strait, one China."
The day before yesterday this newspaper published an editorial. We offered a recommendation to Frank Hsieh. We said if he wants to break through the current impasse, he must "clear the air, once and for all." He must not leave things half said. If he does, he will be blasted by Taiwan independence elements, and Beijing will not buy what you have to sell. He will be a pariah on both sides. It is widely believed that Beijing's Taiwan-related agencies expect Frank Hsieh to reiterate his "opposition to Taiwan independence" and "adherence to the 1992 consensus." This is the proposition that the two sides have firmly supported in recent years. Frank Hsieh will probably be unable to use new formulations such as "constitutional consensus" and "one constitution, different interpretations," in place of existing formulations. He must not waste time talking to himself. If he does, he will find himself trapped in place. Beijing will demand that he "oppose Taiwan independence" and "adhere to the 1992 consensus." Frank Hsieh risks galloping over the precipice. He cannot afford to be careless. Does Frank Hsieh still wish to use the "one China Constitution" and "the spirit of consensus in 1992" as a foothold? Perhaps he can consolidate his position. In other words, perhaps he can rid himself of all the "backdoor listing" rhetoric. Perhaps he can get back to the "Republic of China."
Frank Hsieh has announced his itinerary. Su Tseng-chang and the DPP have yet to make their views on Hsieh's known. The DPP leadership says Frank Hsieh is "merely attending a bartending convention." For the time being, the party leadership is distancing itself from Frank Hsieh. This is understandable. Suppose their assertion is true: If so, what is Frank Hsieh's trip about? What is his personal stand, if not a joke? Will Frank Hsieh's trip score some small victory? Will he be able to reach some agreement with the DPP's basic tenets upon his return? For example, will Hsieh be appointed China Affairs Committee Chairman? That has become necessary to implement the outcome. In a September 11 editorial we pointed out that such agreement would require close agreement between Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen, and Frank Hsieh.
The DPP's cross-Strait policy transformation is intertwined with Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen's 2016 presidential election rivalry. This rivalry hobbles the party's transformation. Can Frank Hsieh successfully fulfill the role of lever for transformation? Su and Tsai should try to set aside their preoccupation with the general election. They should work with Frank Hsieh to get through the storm. Party transformation will surely provoke internecine struggle. They should not see this as on opportunity to "lick blood from the knife." In particular they should not see each other as a stepping stone amidst the chaos. Consider only what is politically advantageous for the moment. If the DPP can successfully transform its cross-Strait policy, any DPP candidate who seeks the presidency in 2016 will benefit. If they hold each other back, the party's transformation will come to nothing.
Returning to our point, Frank Hsieh expressed fear that the DPP's return to power was becoming "the stuff of fantasy." That is why he advocated the transformation of DPP cross-Strait policy.
This remark confirms two things. One. Taiwan's problems are the result of the DPP's yearning for power but resistance to transformation. Two. Conversely, they are the result of the DPP's resistance to transformation because it is out of power. It matters not whether the Democratic Progressive Party is in power. Taiwan remains a victim of the DPP's refusal to transform itself. The DPP's refusal to transform itself is tearing the Republic of China apart. Let us consider the global picture. Suppose the Republic of China is stitched back together. Taiwan may still fail to overcome its international and cross-Strait challenges. The Republic of China has been divided for some time. As our article points out Frank Hsieh stitching the Republic of China back together again is a precondition. Whether the DPP can return to power is secondary.
Frank Hsieh is crossing the Strait to pay his respects to his forebears. He appears to be creating a specific climate. When Chen Shui-bian first assumed the presidency, he too paid lip service to honoring his ancestors. At the time his remarks were regarded as "an acknowledgement of his heritage." But we later learned it was nothing of the sort. Frank Hsieh is currently testing the waters. He must not follow in Chen Shui-bian's footsteps. The DPP has remained trapped on the wheel of samsara, reliving its fate repeatedly. Hsieh must not fall into the same trap. After all, the only thing he is being asked to do is stitch the Republic of China back together. Why must the DPP balk at this?
Frank Hsieh has offered his own estimation of the consequences of his trip. He says the route may be impassable. Or the route may be a majestic, tree-lined boulevard. But it has been there in front of the DPP all the time. The problem was the DPP refused to stop and look. Frank Hsieh is now willing to take the first step. The public should encourage him. The public should remain optimistic.