Political Dialogue Will Enable Win/Win
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
October 29, 2013
Summary: Today the two sides must set aside their prejudices. They must refrain from further self-righteousness. They must plant their feet firmly on solid ground. They must proceed from low-level political dialogue to high-level political negotiation. We hope the Chinese people on both sides of the Strait will be guided by their wisdom. We hope they will find a win-win situation, and achieve the best possible result.
Full text below:
In early October, scholars from private sector Red, Blue, and Green camp think tanks participated in a Cross-Strait Peace Forum held in Shanghai. The forum focused on cross-Strait political dialogue. It addressed such issues as a peace agreement, military confidence building measures, and Taipei's international space. The two sides also discussed the complex issue of sovereignty and jurisdiction. On the 18th, President Ma Ying-jeou met for the first time with Foreign Policy Committee members from the US. He told them that the establishment of cross-Strait representative offices was political, not economic in nature. On the 26th, Honorary KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung attended a cross-Strait trade and cultural forum on the Chinese mainland. He said that the two sides encountered political problems while discussing economics. There is a reason for this. The time for cross-Strait political dialogue has arrived.
Here, we would like to emphasize that political dialogue is not something to be dreaded. Political negotiations are not synonymous with reunification. The picture for Taiwan is worsening. Military conflict is a lose/lose proposition. It is the worst case scenario. Only cross-Strait political negotiation can resolve these problems. As long as conditions are right, and we are well-prepared, there is no reason why political dialogue between the two sides cannot become political negotiations. Cross-Strait relations are of course not relations between separate nations. Cross-Strait issues are not international issues. The United States and the CCP held talks in Geneva and Warsaw from the mid-1950s until the late 1960s. The two sides talked for ten years. Nothing concrete came of the talks. But continuing to interact with each other increased understanding. It served a purpose, and provides us with a precedent.
During this very first peace forum in Shanghai, many scholars from Taiwan spoke of "mutual non-recognition of sovereignty, mutual non-repudiation of jurisdiction." This to a considerable extent, reflects the Ma administration's thinking. Many even suggested that Mainland Affairs Council Director Chang Chi-jun and Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yuqi have already addressed each other by their official titles. Therefore Beijing may wish to consider the possibility of the two sides recognizing each others' jurisdiction. This argument has something to be said for it. The CCP never directly addresses the cross-Strait diplomatic truce. Beijing is concerned. If it agrees that the two sides do not recognize each others' sovereignty, that means that another sovereign entity besides Beijing exists. The mutual recognition of jurisdiction could lead to the erosion of Beijing's sovereignty. Beijing's concerns are not entirely baseless.
During the Peace Forum in Shanghai, some compared current cross-Strait relations to a wedding engagement. Taipei is not ready, but Beijing wants to deceive Taipei or force Taipei to marry, and even abduct her. Academics emerging from their ivory towers and making themselves understood by the general public by discussing cross-Strait relations in everyday vernacular is not a bad thing. But we have a different analogy. The Mainland is a big lug pursuing Taiwan, a delicate beauty. He constantly seeks intimacy. He wants to hold her tiny hand. Taiwan initally sought wealth and objected to his poverty. But when the Mainland became immensely wealthy, Taiwan complained that he was not civilized enough. When the Mainland obtained advanced degrees, and a level of sophistication, Taiwan complained that he could not speak any foreign languages. When the Mainland finally meets all of Taiwan's demands, Taiwan will object that the Mainland is too old, and refuse any further advances. Where there is no will, there is no way.
Another, even more vivid metaphor is that Taiwan merely wants to cohabitate. Taiwan does not want to get married. Taiwan merely wants to enjoy the relationship. Taiwan wants all the benefits of a relationship, but one of the legal obligations of marriage. In cross-Strait relations, it means that as long as Taiwan can benefit, it will want all the benefits, but will refuse to commit to marriage, i.e., reunification. Instead, Taiwan is merely playing the Mainland for a fool. Some may ask whether Taiwan the male or the female? Perhaps it is the male or the female as conditions demand. Time drags on, but the two sides remain incapable of establishing their legal status. What if one day Taiwan finds itself playing the role of "the other woman?" Is time really on Taiwan's side? This is a question worth pondering.
Objectively speaking, if a Ma Xi meeting can be arranged, the two sides' leaders can issue a joint declaration or joint communique expressing their proposals and positions. They can progress from cross-Strait peaceful dialogue to political negotiations to the signing of a peace agreement. The language need not include any explicit rejection of Taiwan independence secession or support for national reunification. But we are pursuing cross-Strait coexistence, cooperation, and a renaissance of Chinese civilization. If even such implications and declarations of intent are ruled out, why would Beijing bother to sign such an agreement? Negotiation means compromise. Taking without giving, or giving without taking, while expecting completely open negotiatons could backfire. One could paint oneself into a corner, and find oneself forced to solve the problem some other way. The possibility of success under such circumstances would be slight.
Recall the past. The two sides may consider their own official policies flawless. But that is hardly the case. Beijing once harbored doubts about Taipei's National Unification Council and Guidelines for National Unification. It harbored the same doubts about the 1992 Consensus. As a result, the percentage of people on Taiwan who consider themselves Chinese continues to decline. Reunification has become a desirable but unachievable luxury. As for Taiwan, in 1989 Chen Lifu proposed a US$10 billion dollar cooperative venture with Beijing. It would promote Sun Yatsen's Industrial Plan, cross-Strait mutual trust, and help achieve the goal of national reunification. Today, 10 billion, 100 billion, even a trillion would not help. The relative strength of the two sides is already clear. Time, as it turns out, was not on our side. Obviously both sides have much soul-searching to do.
Today the two sides must set aside their prejudices. They must refrain from further self-righteousness. They must plant their feet firmly on solid ground. They must proceed from low-level political dialogue to high-level political negotiation. We hope the Chinese people on both sides of the Strait will be guided by their wisdom. We hope they will find a win-win situation, and achieve the best possible result.
中國時報 本報訊 2013年10月29日 04:10