Frank Hsieh Mixes a Drink for Beijing
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 30, 2012
Summary: Frank Hsieh's visit to the Chinese mainland is 12 years overdue. In May 2000, Chen Shui-bian became president. In June, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh announced that he would accept Xiamen Mayor Zhu Yayan's invitation to visit the Chinese mainland. But fate intervened. Then MAC Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen blasted him. Twelve years later, assuming he makes this trip, Frank Hsieh will have finally gotten his wish.
Full Text below:
If Beijing does not turn him down, Frank Hsieh will soon visit the Chinese mainland. We cannot think of any reason why Beijing would turn him down. Therefore Frank Hsieh should be able to make the trip.
Frank Hsieh's visit to the Chinese mainland is 12 years overdue. In May 2000, Chen Shui-bian became president. In June, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh announced that he would accept Xiamen Mayor Zhu Yayan's invitation to visit the Chinese mainland. But fate intervened. Then MAC Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen blasted him. Twelve years later, assuming he makes this trip, Frank Hsieh will have finally gotten his wish.
Twelve years ago Frank Hsieh said, "According to our constitution, Kaohsiung and Xiamen are two cities belonging to the same nation. They (Beijing) also see it the same way. As long as one does not name which nation they belong to, that is acceptable." Take our current understanding, and consider these words from 12 years ago. The first half of what Frank Hsieh spoke of was the "one China Constitution." The second half was "one China, different interpretations." Back then Frank Hsieh advanced the concept of the "one China Constitution." Thenceforth it will become his political trademark.
When one refers to history, one cannot talk about ifs. But if Frank Hsieh had made the trip 12 years ago, he would have preceded Lien Chan's 2005 "ice-breaking journey" by a full five years. In which case, history would have to be rewritten.
But history allows no ifs. In June 2000, Frank Hsieh's visit to Xiamen awaited approval. On June 27, when President Chen Shui-bian met with foreign guests, he declared that the new government would be willing to accept the "1992 consensus" and "one China, different interpretations." But the very next day, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen stepped forward and insisted that the two sides never reached a consensus on the "one China principle." The Chen government's cross-Strait policy has remained frozen in this state ever since.
Since then all anyone remembers is the "rectification of names," "What in the hell is the Republic of China?" the "Referendum on UN membership," "one country on each side," and the "resolution for a normal nation." Tsai Ing-wen's presidential campaign first alleged that ECFA "forfeited our sovereignty and demeaned our nation." Then it accepted ECFA in toto, without conditions, while simultaneously repudiating the 1992 consensus. Why? Was it because Tsai Ing-wen pressured Chen Shui-bian to repudiate the 1992 consensus? Was she too embarrassed to reverse herself? Tsai Ing-wen's fear of losing face prevented the DPP from making this historic change.
History does not allow for ifs. But it does allow for change. Frank Hsieh's trip bypasses countless twists and turns in the course of history. It makes a giant 180 degree about face. It draws a line between Hsieh and Tsai Ing-wen. It picks up on where Hsieh left off 12 years ago, regarding the "one China Constitution" and "one China, different interpretations" 12 years ago. Frank Hsieh should have no difficulty completing this task. He merely needs to wipe his face and rewind the clock 12 years. Frank Hsieh's personal change is of little significance. But if it leads to the DPP's collective change, it will have meaning.
This could pave the way for Frank Hsieh to return and take over as chairman of the DPP "China Affairs Committee." Once Frank Hsieh takes over as as committee chairman, he will be the highest ranking member of the DPP dealing with Beijing. Over the next few years he is expected to visit the Chinese mainland in his capacity as committee chairman. Frank Hsieh is likely to embark on the same path as Lien Chan in 2005.
How will Frank Hsieh present his cross-Strait views to Beijing once he arrives? Will Beijing buy his rhetoric? Will Taiwan independence elements? What will swing voters make of it? Will they buy into it?
To make a long story short, Frank Hsieh should consider clearing the air on his cross-Strait policy, once and for all. At the very least, he must say what he means and mean what he says. He must accept in toto the Republic of China and the Constitution of the Republic of China. He must not attempt to equivocate by splitting semantic hairs. Still less may he engage in "backdoor listing," and saying "Republic of China" when he really means "Nation of Taiwan." Frank Hsieh once said that "No one ever used the term 1992 consensus, but the spirit of the meeting amounted to a consensus." If so, Frank Hsieh could rename the "1992 consensus" the "Consensus of 1992." He need not force the DPP to use the term "1992 consensus." Frank Hsieh wants to use "two Constitutions, different interpretations" instead of "one China, different interpretations." This is still a game of words. The March "Wu Hu Meeting" established a "Constitution of the Republic of China bottom line." Perhaps during this trip Frank Hsieh can go from "one China, different interpretations" to the "Big Roof" concept. Perhaps he can go further in setting the agenda and setting the trend.
Frank Hsieh is of course not merely attending a bartending competition. He wants to participate in a bartending contest because for Beijing it is Taiwan-related. This was predictable. Frank Hsieh intends to mix a drink. If Beijing is willing to drink it, if swing voters are willing to drink it, then Taiwan independence elements will probably find it impossible to swallow. But is Frank Hsieh still worrying about the feelings of Taiwan independence elements? Is he still bound by them hand and foot? Is he still leaving things only half said? Is he still unwilling to set the record straight, once and for all? If so, then he is unlikely to break the ice in Beijing. For swing voters, he is unlikely to cut the Gordian Knot. He is likely to come up empty. The drink he mixes, no one will drink.
During this trip, Frank Hsieh will attempt to overcome all manner of obstacles in order to achieve his goal. One. Can he overcome his own internal resistance? Two. Can he speak for the DPP? Three. Can he convince Beijing? Four. Can he become "China Affairs Committee Chairman?" Five. Can he persuade the DPP to make a major about face? Six. Can he transcend Blue vs. Green, and persuade swing voters to vote for the DPP?
We do not know where then Xiamen Mayor Zhu Yayan is 12 years later. But he may wish to go up to Beijing to meet with Frank Hsieh. They can then hold the meeting they wanted to 12 years ago,