Xi Jinping's Cross-Strait Challenge: Upgrading the 1992 Consensus
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 29, 2012
Summary: CCP Central Committee & State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi spoke during the 20th anniversary celebration of the 1992 consensus. He summarized the Hu Jintao administration's 1992 consensus achievements. He also revealed the blueprint for the Xi Jinping administration's next step for the 1992 consensus. We suggest that the 1992 consensus be upgraded. It should be transformed into "one China, different interpretations under the big roof concept of China."
Full Text below:
CCP Central Committee & State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi spoke during the 20th anniversary celebration of the 1992 consensus. He summarized the Hu Jintao administration's 1992 consensus achievements. He also revealed the blueprint for the Xi Jinping administration's next step for the 1992 consensus.
For the sake of continuity, we suggest that the 1992 consensus be upgraded. It should be transformed into "one China, different interpretations under the big roof concept of China."
Wang Yi defined the 1992 consensus. He said "each side of the Taiwan Strait has verbally declared that both sides of the Strait adhere to the one China principle." This is historical fact. But it is only part of the story. It cites only Beijing's interpretation in 1992. Another part of the story revealed itself during in the March 26, 2008 hotline conversation between President Hu Jintao and President George W. Bush."The (1992 consensus) means that both sides recognize that there is only one China, but agree that each side has its own definition of one China." This is also how the Taipei side interprets the 1992 consensus. Over the past four years, the 1992 consensus has gathered energy. The energy comes from the aforementioned endorsement of "one China, different interpretations" by Bush and Hu on the Beijing/Washington Hotline. Alas, the 1992 consensus contains a bottleneck. No one knows for certain what the "one China" in "one China principle" refers to.
Wang Yi mentioned both this "energy" and this "bottleneck" during his talk. Take the "energy" part. Wang said, "The key to the 1992 consensus is the one-China principle. The essence of the 1992 consensus is seeking common ground while shelving differences." In fact, he was referring to "seeking common ground while shelving differences under the one-China principle." He spoke of "seeking common ground in one China, while both sides shelve their political differences." He even spoke of "the ability to seek common ground while shelving minor differences. He even spoke of "the ability to seek common ground while shelving major differences." In fact, he was referring to "seeking common ground in one China, while shelving the differences in different expressions." One China is the greatest common ground. Whereas different interpretations is the greatest difference. The spirit of "one China, different interpretations" and "seeking common ground while shelving differences" is embodied in the 1992 consensus.
Now take the "bottleneck" part. Wang Yi said, "Seeking only common ground is unrealistic. It is also infeasible." Apply Wang's own logic to this dilemma. Wang's remark could be interpreted as, "Seeking only common ground in one China is unrealistic. Talking only about political differences is infeasible." Consider Beijing's perspective. "Talking only about political differences is infeasible." So far, so good. But why is is "Seeking only common ground in one China" unrealistic? Clearly Beijing's thinking about "seeking common ground while shelving differences" requires closer scrutiny.
The problem arises as a result of doubts over "one China." If Beijing sees "one China" as an abstraction transcending the cross-Strait status quo, then "one China" becomes "a third concept of China, a big roof concept of China." That enables the two sides to "shelve their political differences." But if Beijing sees "one China" as the "People's Republic of China," then it is being unrealistic. Then there is no room for "shelving differences." This conflict must be resolved. Otherwise the 1992 consensus will contain a bottleneck. To resolve this conflict, the 1992 consensus should be upgraded. Now is the time to remove the bottleneck. The opportunity must not be missed.
The opportunity revealed itself in the CCP 18th National Congress Political Report. It includes a call to "Investigate cross-Strait political relations under special circumstances in which the nation has yet to be reunified, and make reasonable arrangements." The three keys were "yet to be reunified, special circumstances, and political relations." Given the three keys, "one China" cannot possibly be the "People's Republic of China." It has to be the "big roof concept of one China." This must the foundation for all "reasonable arrangements".
Wang Yi said that the term "reasonable" means not coercing others. Reasonable means abiding by existing legal provisions. The "legal provisions" referred to would be the "Hu Six Points," the provisions of the Wu-Hu Summit of March, and Wang Yi's statement, "in compliance with the legal provisions (constitutions) for both sides." Shelving differences between the constitutional provisions of the two sides, and seeking the common ground of one China, requires the big roof concept of one China. Without this big roof concept of one China, nothing can accomodate a nation that has "yet to be reunified," and maintain "political relations under special circumstances."
The Hu Jintao administration made a critical contribution to cross-Strait relations. It shifted the focus of policy to the signing of a peace agreement. It did this under special circumstances. Cross-Strait political relations were being conducted even though the nation has yet to be reunified. This policy was innovative because it established "yet to be reunified" as an official policy challenge. Without such thinking, cross-Strait peaceful development would be impossible.
Wang Yi said, "We must have a good grasp of the common ground and the differences in our relationship. We must be adept at seeking common ground while shelving minor differences. We must even be adept at seeking common ground while shelving major differences." The "major difference" is the thing we mentioned earlier. We must upgrade the 1992 consensus. Major common ground is the "big roof concept of one China." The major difference refers to the two sides' legal provisions, specifically the constitutions of the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. When the big roof China principle becomes the one China principle, only then can we "seek common ground while shelving major differences." Under the big roof concept of one China, The Republic of China is a democratic China, the People's Republic of China is a socialist China.
In this respect the big roof concept of one China may be the link connecting Wang Yi's one China. This link may be, as he said, an "effort to seek common ground, and properly handle the points of disagreement." To "increase common ground, and increase mutual tolerance" is the way to "seek common ground while shelving major differences."
The Xi Jinping administration has inherited the 1992 consensus. If it wishes to transcend it, it must upgrade it, to different interpretations under the big roof concept of one China, and seeking common ground while shelving differences.