Cross-Strait Relations are not International Relations: Hsieh, Su, and Tsai Should Not Muddy the Waters
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
November 11, 2013
Summary: Closer examination of the DPP leaders' statements tells the story. This includes Su Tseng-chang. In fact, they know they can no longer get away with characterizing cross-Strait relations as "international relations" as they did in the past. All they can do is play word games and incite polarization in order to divide the public and win votes. Cross-Strait relations cannot turn back. The DPP must accept the currents of history. Only doing so will enable it to have a future.
Full text below:
President Ma said that "Cross-Strait relations are not international relations." Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen and Frank Hsieh blasted him for doing so. But their so-called "state to state relations" across the Taiwan Strait equals cross-Strait conflict. Some say cross-Strait relations are international relations. Others say they are not state to state relations. Just what sort of relations are they? President Ma's premise is that they are "not international relations." If so, what are cross-Strait relations? If so, where do the DPP's concept of cross-Strait relations come in?
The question appears complicated, but is actually quite simple. Politics has made it unnecessarily complicated. Cross-Strait relations impacts the nation's future. People's national identity and whether peace or conflict will prevail across the Taiwan Strait must be clarified. To understand the nature of cross-Strait relations, one must first eliminate political ambition as a motivation. One must first tear down the Tower of Babel erected out of political motives. Only then can one set matters straight.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang expressed opposition to President Ma's interpretation. He argued for "two heads of state in opposition." He argues that if relations are not international, then they must be domestic. He says "Only countries have presidents." "If Ma Ying-jeou is not a president, how can he host the National Day ceremonies on the dais?" According to Su's "two heads of state in opposition" logic, President Ma must choose between "international relations" and "domestic relations." In fact, Su Tseng-chang began arguing that "Cross-Strait relations are state to state relations" long ago. But political realities forced him to remain silent. He was forced to denounce his opponents in more roundabout fashion.
Former DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen said that the first duty of the president is to defend our sovereignty and status as an independent nation. "As for our relations with [Mainland] China, i.e., cross-Strait relations, that is a matter for 23 million people do decide via a public referendum. It is not something that can be decided by the president himself." She said the president must abide by the democratic process. He must respect the citizenry's views on this important issue. "In the absence of a national consensus, reached through the democratic process, for the president to utter those words means he has exceeded his authority. This can be regarded as derelicition of duty." Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric has always left people baffled. Yet again she has demonstrated her idiosyncratic behavior on a sensitive issue.
The Constitution of the Republic of China maintains a legal link between the Taiwan and Mainland regions of China. Both sides have this legal link. Therefore the declaration that "Cross-Strait relations are not international relations" is fully consistent with President Ma's constitutional mandate. It can hardly be characterized as "the president making decisions by himself." President Ma adhered to the spirit of the constitution when he said cross-Strait relations are not international relations. Tsai Ing-wen has attempted to obfuscate the issue by saying that it is up to 23 million people to decide. The DPP frequently invokes public opinion whenever it is convenient. In fact, it uses populist sentiment to carry out its private agenda.
Frank Hsieh's argument was even more paradoxical. He said "Ma said cross-Strait relations are not international relations. This means the two sides do not recognize each other's sovereignty. President Ma's refusal to recognize the existence of the PRC is highly provocative." Frank Hsieh was obviously playing word games in order to incite KMT vs. CCP opposition. But increased cross-Strait interactions since 2008 have all been based on the "1992 consensus." The spirit of the 1992 Consensus shelved disputes over sovereignty. It adopted the "one China, different interpretations" approach. It refrained from repudiating each other's jurisdiction. As President of the ROC, President Ma obviously cannot recognize the PRC's sovereignty. During his inaugural speech in 2008, he said "The two sides do not recognize each other's sovereignty, but do not dispute each others jurisdiction." He said "Cross-Strait relations are not international relations." How can this be characterized as provocative?
Consider Frank Hsieh's long held take on cross-Strait relations. His interpretation is that "Cross-Strait relations are not domestic relations. Rather they are special relations between territories inside and outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of China Constitution. The two sides are equal but separately governed. Neither belongs to the other." The reason the Mainland authorities can accept Hsieh's take, is that he complies with the ROC Constitution. Basically he does not depart from the one China framework. He and President Ma hold similar positions. But he refuses to pass up any opportunity to snipe at Ma.
Consider the Constitution and the current state of cross-Strait exchanges. These are obviously not international relations. Otherwise why would the two sides need the SEF and ARATS to make the relationship work? As Wu Poh-hsiung said, the two sides should recognize each others' passports. Why bother with "Taiwan Compatriat Permits" and "Taiwan Entry Permits?" Wikipedia says "Cross-Strait relations are relations between two political entities -- the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China which governs the Chinese Mainland and Hainan Island." The international community recognizes that the two sides are two political entities under a one China framework, each with their own interpretation of their sovereignty. Why can't the DPP adopt this pragmatic view of cross-Strait relations?
The Mainland and Taiwan both use "cross-Strait" to define bilateral relations. This shows that cross-Strait relations are neither international nor domestic relations. The essence of cross-Strait relations is in "different interpretations." It means that within one country, two entities respect each other's claims to sovereignty. Since 2008 cross-Strait relations have significantly improved under "different interpretations" and the principle of mutual respect.
Closer examination of the DPP leaders' statements tells the story. This includes Su Tseng-chang. In fact, they know they can no longer get away with characterizing cross-Strait relations as "international relations" as they did in the past. All they can do is play word games and incite polarization in order to divide the public and win votes. Cross-Strait relations cannot turn back. The DPP must accept the currents of history. Only doing so will enable it to have a future.
中國時報 本報訊 2013年11月11日 04:09