Cross-Strait Victories are Won in Peoples' Hearts and Minds, not in Gambia
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
November 19, 2013
Summary: Taipei has two urgent priorities. One. The DPP must swiftly reaffirm the Constitution of the Republic of China. It must not enable Beijing to cite Taiwan independence as a pretext to seek other forms of victory. Two. The public on Taiwan must have confidence and ambition. It must compete with the Mainland under a big roof concept of China. It must seek a win/win scenario and mutual prosperity.
Full text below:
At GMT+15, the Republic of Gambia severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. Several hours later, Beijing's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, "We too have received word from foreign media sources. Prior to this, the [Mainland] China side had no contact with the Gambian side." Slightly later, Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office stressed that "On the Taiwan side (i.e., the Green Camp) a number of statements have been made on this matter. We must prevent people with ulterior motives from using this to undermine cross-Strait relations."
Had this happened before 2008, the reason surely would have been "CCP sabotage." When the Republic of Gambia announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Taipei, it would have simultaneously announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with Beijing. Beijing would have viewed the event as another victory in the two sides' ongoing diplomatic tussle.
But Beijing had no part in the current Gambian development. It even worried that "people with ulterior motives might use the development to undermine cross-Strait relations." Beijing's Global Times noted that, "The two sides should not perceive this as a matter of winning and losing."Beijing said that if Gambia "hopes to use Taiwan's 'diplomatic relations' to seek compensation from the Mainland, it is unlikely to be successful." It is widely believed that Beijing will not establish diplomatic relations with Gambia. As many as 66% of Mainland netizens do not want the Mainland to establish diplomatic relations with Gambia.
Before 2008, the cross-Strait "diplomatic war" raged on. Beijing made every effort to eliminate Taipei's diplomatic allies. It viewed them as "cross-Strait victories." But since 2008, Beijing has turned away many of Taipei's diplomatic allies. Gambia has not established diplomatic relations with Beijing. It severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in advance. This is an exception. From a global perspective, the Mainland is becoming stronger. If Beijing were still determined to eliminate Taipei's diplomatic allies, Taipei would eventually lose. But as Beijing noted today, the two sides should not perceive this as a matter of winning and losing. It distanced itself even further, by underscoring that it learned about the development from the foreign media. It reminded Taipei not to allow people with ulterior motives to undermine cross-Strait relations.
Beijing clearly understands that at this stage of cross-Strait relations, continuing to eliminate Taipei's diplomatic allies is a no-no. Doing so would give serious offense to the public on Taiwan. Beijing understands that doing so would enable people with ulterior motives to undermine cross-Strait relations. Compare the current situation to cross-Strait relations before 2008. Compare the major differences, then and now. One. Back then Beijing was determined to eliminate the ROC as a rival in international and cross-Strait relations. It viewed the matter as a win/lose proposition. Now however, it wants to preserve the Republic of China and the Constitution of the Republic of China. Two. Back then Beijing was indifferent to the feelings of the public on Taiwan. Today it sees winning or losing as winning or losing the hearts and minds of the the public on Taiwan. Before 2008, Beijing perceived destroying the Republic of China as winning. Now it perceives winning the hearts and minds of the public on Taiwan as winning. It sees the Republic of China as the key to winning the hearts and minds of the public on Taiwan.
Beijing said, "The two sides should not perceive the Gambian development as a matter of winning and losing." Beijing already realizes that the primany link, the only link between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is the Republic of China and Constitution of the Republic of China. To persecute the Republic of China would only break the link. To defend the Republic of China preserves the cross-Strait link. Hence Beijing's insistence on disassociating itself from Gambia's severing of diplomatic relations with Taipei, and other government's bans on the display of ROC national flags. Both represent Beijing's realization that it must not view eliminating or repudiating the Republic of China as a victory. That is why Beijing cannot allow Gambia to approach the Mainland seeking compensation. It cannot allow such ploys to succeed. Loosened restrictions on the use of the Republic of China flag, on the singing of the Republic of China national anthem, the use of the Republic of China national title need to be worked out as soon as possible. Beijing must expand Taipei's international space. Only this will reduce misunderstandings, both at home and abroad.
The Gambian development was a painful revelation for Taipei. Beijing does not view Gambia as a cross-Strait victory. Taipei should affirm this bilateral strategic understanding. Bilateral cooperation in international and cross-Strait affairs must go forward. Taipei must cease equating diplomatic allies with winning and losing. It must view winning hearts and minds as winning or losing. Whenever the one China framework is clearly disadvantageous to the Republic of China on the international stage, Taipei must strive for peace and balance within it. Whenever the one China framework becomes imbalanced in the international arena, Taipei must restore that balance through democracy and public support. Taipei must remain vigilant. Taipei must appreciate the value of the one China framework. Otherwise given today's international situation, more Gambias could spring up overnight. Beijing could declare that if the two sides are not seeking a win/win scenario within the one China framework, then it will revert to "diplomatic war" to score victories.
Faced with such a perilous situation, Taipei has two urgent priorities. One. The DPP must swiftly reaffirm the Constitution of the Republic of China. It must not enable Beijing to cite Taiwan independence as a pretext to seek other forms of victory. Two. The public on Taiwan must have confidence and ambition. It must compete with the Mainland under a big roof concept of China. It must seek a win/win scenario and mutual prosperity.
2013.11.19 02:12 am