A "Taiwan Consensus" Absent a DPP Consensus?
Editorial contributed by a noted Technology Manager
United Daily News (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
January 10, 2014
Summary: The DPP's "China Affairs Committee" convened this month and resolved to "consolidate a consensus within Taiwan" as its basis for cross-strait dialogue. Alas, the DPP spin on "consensus" does not constitute a consensus within its own party, let alone a consensus among the people at large. The DPP's interpretation of a Taiwan consensus is miles apart from mainstream public opinion.
Full text below:
The DPP's "China Affairs Committee" convened this month and aproved the "2014 China Policy Review Minutes." The proposal to freeze the Taiwan independence party platform did not pass. The committee then resolved to "consolidate a consensus within Taiwan" as its basis for cross-strait dialogue.
The DPP is proficient at word games. Once again it has demonstrated this proficiency in spades. Anyone can see at a glance that this was merely old wine in new bottles. It was the product of a compromise among the DPP's various factions. The content is nothing new. It is essentially the "Taiwan consensus" that Tsai Ing-wen trotted out during the 2012 election campaign. It has merely been poured into a new bottle labeled "Taiwan's internal consensus." DPP elites and pro-Green academics convened for days on end to discuss the DPP's "China policy." But what reaction is possible, other than "Where's the beef?" It truly was a let-down.
Tsai Ing-wen lost her presidential bid in 2012. The main reason was her failure to rid herself of the Taiwan independence albatross around her neck. Her vague and ambiguous "Taiwan consensus" and "Peace with differences" slogans left voters scratching their heads, and made them wonder whether she was selling them a pig in a poke.
The Democratic Progressive Party had been out of power for six years. But who knew factional disputes within would prevent it from arriving at a cross-strait policy consensus? Would the consensus be "one China" or "different constitutional interpretations?" Would the Taiwan independence party platform be frozen or not? No consensus could be achieved. And yet they expect to consolidate a "Taiwan consensus?" This is what is referred to in Chinese as "searching for fish in a tree."
The DPP's "Taiwan consensus" is subject to hundreds of different interpretations. This is the most perverse aspect of the DPP's "Taiwan consensus" or renamed "Taiwan's internal consensus." What is it really? How does anyone know whether a consensus has been reached? Who is qualified to determine whether a consensus has been reached? How much support must it have before it can be referred to as a consensus?
One argument is that a consensus can be determined through opinion polls.
Frank Hsieh has his own take on this. As he told reporters, the DPP's cross-strait policy has a 27% public approval rating. The KMT policy's rating is 35%. The DPP must seek to achieve a 60% approval rating. According to Hsieh, a consensus requires a greater than 60% approval rating. On this, both the ruling and opposition parties have falled short.
Another argument is that a consensus can be discerned by means of a public referendum.
This has been a goal of the DPP for years. The DPP has longed to use a referendum to show "respect for the Taiwanese peoples' right to self-determination." But if the DPP includes "declaring Taiwan independence and founding a new nation" within the referendum, it becomes a double-edged sword. If such a referendum were to succeed, it would prove that the DPP's Taiwan independence advocacy has traction. But if it were to fail, the DPP would not merely lose popular support. It would leave the Taiwan independence movement prostrate for years to come.
A third argument is that a consensus can be achieved by means of political party negotiations.
MAC Chairman Wang Yu-chi will soon visit the Mainland. The ruling and opposition parties in the Legislative Yuan have reached a consensus. When Wang Yu-chi visits the Mainland, they want him to reject or ignore proposals regarding the "one China framework" or "opposition to Taiwan independence." Otherwise he will be held politically accountable. According to this argument, the result of "interparty consultation" within the Legislative Yuan amounts to a consensus. It represents majority opinion. But consider the evils perpetrated by the Legislature in the past. Such "interparty consultation" is merely a minority overriding a majority. It is utterly contrary to the principle of majority rule within a democracy. How can it possibly represent mainstream public opinion?
A fourth argument is that a DPP victory would in itself amount to a popular consensus.
If by some fluke the DPP emerges victorious in local and central elections, it will argue that its victory was the result of a majority of people agreeing with their political ideas and cross-strait policy. Therefore their proposal naturally represents a Taiwan consensus. But consider the paradox. The KMT clung to the 1992 consensus, and emerged victorious during the previous election. Yet the DPP refuses to accept the 1992 consensus. It refuses to concede that the KMT's proposals represent mainstream public opinion, and constitute a Taiwan consensus.
Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric was baffling. During the 2012 election, she argued that "Taiwan is the ROC, and the ROC is Taiwan." She argued that this premise would provide Taiwan with the greatest degree of internal cohesion. It would amount to a Taiwan consensus. It would clearly distinguish the DPP from the Kuomintang. But this makes no sense whatsoever. The KMT also argues that "Taiwan is the ROC, and the ROC is Taiwan." Therefore how does this provide market segmentation? Was Tsai once again merely playing with words? Is this really what she thinks the national consensus is? If she does, why do the DPP and the Deep Greens disagree? Why are they unwilling to accept even the ROC Constitution, the ROC National Flag, and the ROC National Anthem?
In other words , the DPP spin on "consensus," does not constitute a consensus within its own party, let alone a consensus among the people at large. The DPP's interpretation of a Taiwan consensus is miles apart from mainstream public opinion.
中國時報 洛杉基 2014年01月13日 04:10