Frank Hsieh Returns: Pipe Dream or Dream Come True?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 8, 2012
Summary: Frank Hsieh has returned from his visit to the Mainland. His "trail-blazing journey" is either a conclusion or a commencement. Is it the former, or the latter? That depends on whether he becomes Chairman of the DPP's China Affairs Committee. That will determine whether Frank Hsieh's dream is a pipe dream or a dream come true.
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Frank Hsieh has returned from his visit to the Mainland. His "trail-blazing journey" is either a conclusion or a commencement. Is it the former, or the latter? That depends on whether he becomes Chairman of the DPP's China Affairs Committee. That will determine whether Frank Hsieh's dream is a pipe dream or a dream come true.
As matters stand, Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang have been "taking the point." They can only move forward. Withdrawal means disaster. Frank Hsieh has made a beginning. Can he use the China Affairs Committee as a platform by which to transform the DPP's cross-Strait thinking, and connect with the Mainland? He spoke of "my footprints, my descendant's path." Can he turn the former into the latter? If he cannot, then the link will be broken. Worse, he will probably become the target of public villification amidst party power struggles. Frank Hsieh's visit has provided the DPP with the leverage it needs for its transformation. Su Tseng-chang must take maximum advantage of it. He must help Frank Hsieh become Chairman of the China Affairs Committee, thereby promoting the transformation of the DPP. He must not exploit Hsieh's visit to the Mainland as an opportunity to attack his rivals. That would divide the DPP. That would amount to an admission that the DPP's hoped for transformation is a pipe dream. Hsieh and Su must now become symbiotes. They can only move forward. Withdrawal means disaster.
The two sides now see Frank Hsieh's Chairmanship of the DPP's China Affairs Committee as an indicator of the DPP's desire to undergo transformation. If Frank Hsieh wants his visit to be a commencement and not a conclusion, he must accept this job position. Su Tseng-chang may be unwilling to risk attacks for promoting party transformation. But he he must stick to his promise to help Frank Hsieh become committee chairman. The boost Frank Hsieh has received from crossing the Strait has made him more determined to assume this position.
Suppose Frank Hsieh becomes Chairman of the DPP's China Affairs Committee. How will Su and Hsieh spin Hsieh's recent "exports cum domestic sales" visit to the Mainland? How will they transform it into official DPP policy? What did Frank Hsieh say to the Mainland side during his visit? That has yet to be made public. But two basic points can be discerned from what has already been repeated in public. One. Consider history and kinship. Frank Hsieh visited his ancestral home and sought out his roots. He said "It was like visiting his brother's house." He said "All our ancestors are Chinese." In fact, the ancestral hall Frank Hsieh visited displayed the gift Hsieh gave them last year -- a plaque reading "treasured tree, shared roots." The term "bao shu" or "treasured tree" is the Hsieh family "tang hao," a name indicating ancestral place of origin. The plaque had a double meaning. Two. Consider political coopetition. Frank Hsieh's core premise is that "Cross-Strait relations must be rooted in the Constitution of the Republic of China." This has largely been affirmed by think tanks on the other side. It is reminiscent of Hsieh's declaration that "The DPP is no longer promoting Taiwan independence." It also focuses the other side's attention on the Constitution of the Republic of China, making it the basis for cross-Strait coopetition. This amounts to a declaration that Taiwan independence is retiring from the political stage and bidding it farewell. This is a step forward for the Republic of China. This means that Blue, Green, and Red parties on both sides of Strait may be able to reach a consensus on the "Republic of China" and the "Constitution of the Republic of China."
The Blue and Green camps should agree to make the Constitution of the Republic of China the basis for cross-Strait coopetition. This would make it even more difficult for Beijing to repudiate the Constitution of the Republic of China. Frank Hsieh crossed the Strait to proclaim that the DPP is willing to reaffirm the Constitution of the Republic of China. This is his contribution to Taiwan, the Republic of China, and to cross-Strait relations.
Frank Hsieh has been making waves. The DPP has had to adapt. The Blue and Green parties on Taiwan have had to adapt. The Blue, Green, and Red parties on both sides of the Strait have had to adapt, and enter a new era. For example, Frank Hsieh knocked on the Mainland's door. He spoke of "treasured tree, shared roots," and a "one China Constitution." The other side expressed approval of the direction Hsieh was taking. But it also stressed that party to party exchanges were impossible until the DPP relinquished its Taiwan independence party platform. This will require a long accommodation process.
We published an editorial in the September 11 edition expressing our views on the new DPP/CCP coopetition. As we see it, Beijing's cross-Strait policy has three elements. They are: opposition to Taiwan independence, support for the 1992 consensus, and support for the one China framework. Frank Hsieh has countered with his "one China Constitution, which forsakes Taiwan independence, and "different constitutions, different interpretations." This is the same as "one China, different interpretations," or "one China is the Republic of China." This is the same as "Kaohsiung and Xiamen are two cities within the same country," or "one country, two regions." Beijing may make future demands regarding the "one China framework." The DPP can respond with the "Big Roof China" concept. The Republic of China is part of a "treasured tree, shared roots." The DPP can boldy proclaim that the Republic of China is the China of the common people. The Republic of China is democratic China.
Frank Hsieh visited Xiamen and paid his respects to his ancestors. He said "It was as if his blood was boiling." Several times he wiped away tears -- the tears of a grown man. Frank Hsieh has experienced many ups and downs in his political career. He lamented 30 plus years of Blue vs. Green, reunification vs. independence struggles. Will his five days and four nights "trail-blazing journey" be a commencement or a conclusion? That will depend on whether is becomes Chairman of the DPP's China Affairs Committee.
Ultimately, the Chairmanship of the Democratic Progressive Party's China Affairs Committee is nearer and dearer to him than the Hsieh family ancestral altar in Xiamen. If Frank Hsieh takes office, the first thing he may wish to do is change the name of the "China Affairs Committee" to the "Cross-Strait Affairs Committee," or the "Straits Affairs Committee."