A Political Year: The Key is Ma Xi Meeting
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
February 6, 2014
Summary: For Taiwan, this is a political year. It is a year in which political power and policy direction will be redefined. For the past eight years, cross-strait relations have become increasingly friendly. Signs of reform within the DPP have surfaced. This year is a rare opportunity to redefine cross-strait relations. But will the opportunity be lost? That depends on joint efforts on both sides. The key is a Ma Xi meeting.
Full text below:
This year is a political year. On the 11th of this month, Wang Yu-chi visited the Mainland. In May, the DPP will hold its party chairmanship election. At the end of the year, the government will hold the "seven in one elections." In the lead up to these elections, the most suspenseful event will be the Ma Xi meeting.
This string of political events points to the 2016 general election. The core issue, as always, remains cross-strait relations. Wang Yu-chi visited the Mainland. Will the two sides' cross-strait affairs directors address each other by their official titles? If they do, this may lead to a increased openness, both in rhetoric and in practice. This may pave the way for an end of year Ma Xi meeting. But if the "three taboos" prevail, the Ma Xi meeting may not happen. The DPP will hold its party chairmanship elections in May. The election campaign may be fought over cross-strait policy. It may affect the political climate during the "seven in one elections" and the 2016 general election. This of course pertains only to the Taiwan side. News relating to the Ma Xi meeting in October will determine the final impact of these events.
If a Ma Xi meeting can be held it will at the very least reduce the suffering and torment endured by the two sides over the past decade or two. Alas, the the likelihood of a Ma Xi meeting is fading. Many political issues will arise this year. They include the DPP chairmanship election and the "seven in one elections." All signs point to 2016, and a clash over the central government political authority and the nation's political path. Cross-strait policy has a major influence on the ROC's political path. Therefore a Ma Xi meeting will have a profound impact on everything above, and ultimately the 2016 general election and post-election cross strait relations.
If a Ma Xi meeting can be arranged, it will show that the two sides can accept "economic leaders" and "leaders from the two sides" as forms of address. It will show that significant progress has been made on the cross-strait rhetoric concerning sovereignty and jurisdiction. We can now look forward to some sort of "Peace Declaration." Perhaps this is the Xi Jinping policy team's way of tolerating and guiding Taiwan polices, instead of suppressing and stifling it. If so, it is good for both sides. Can a Ma Xi meeting lower the threshold for cross-strait relations? Can it do so in a manner acceptable to the public on Taiwan? If it can, it will compel the DPP to reform its cross-strait policy. It will positively impact the 2016 general election and cross-strait relations after the election. In other words, as long Ma and Xi set the tone for cross-strait policy, they can minimize the impact of the 2016 general election on cross-strait relations. Then no matter who is elected president, he or she will not be able to turn back the clock. He or she will be able to carry on the good work of the Ma Xi meeting.
Conversely, if the Ma Xi meeting fails to materialize, the Ma administration gesture will be interpreted as a failure, and a rejection by the Mainland. It will be seen as a lack of creativity and goodwill on the part of Beijing. It will deny the DPP a necessary stimulus for reform. If everything is postponed until after the 2016 general election, who knows what the consequences might be?
The end of year APEC meeting to be held at Beijing's Yanqi Lake is a prime opportunity for leaders from the two sides to meet. The two sides are irresolute and afraid to act. The real barriers are not external and objective, but internal and psychological. If these psychological barriers are not removed, we might endure a decade or two of trials and tribulation before any breakthrough. Even then, a breakthrough might be in doubt. What price would we be forced to pay? Conversely, convening a Ma Xi meeting could clear away these psychological barriers in one fell swoop. It could spare the two sides a decade or two of trials and tribulations.
The likelihood of another opportunity for a Ma Xi meeting is remote. This is a consensus shared by those in the know, on both sides of the issue. When Hong Kong was retroceded, everyone in the know knew that "one country, one system" was unacceptable. Beijing could never have persuaded the public in Hong Kong, the Mainland, and the rest of the world to accept it. Only Deng Xiaoping was able to shrug off subjective psychological barriers, and use "one country, two systems" to cut the Gordian Knot. Everyone knows that another opportunity for an historic Ma Xi meeting is unlikely. Such a meeting is the way to diminish a decade or two of cross-strait suffering. But do we have someone of the caliber of Deng Xiaoping, able to write history? Do we have someone not mired in dogma and hobbled by psychological barriers?
The Ma administration has labored for six long years. It now stands on the threshold of a Ma Xi meeting. If such a meeting fails to materialize, it will be an historical tragedy. The DPP has already announced that it "does not oppose a Ma Xi meeting." Clearly it realizes that such a meeting would have a major impact on the 2016 general election and future cross-strait relations. Therefore both the Blue and Green camps should attempt to make such a meeting a reality. Beijing in particular must not miss this unique opportunity. It must seize the moment to ride the wave. It would be doing more than giving Taiwan a chance. It would also be giving Beijing a chance to improve the cross-strait policy environment. During a Ma Xi meeting Beijing must accomodate Taipei. If it does not, it will merely hobble itself. If Deng Xiaoping were alive, he would not let this historic opportunity slip through his fingers.
For Taiwan, this is a political year. It is a year in which political power and policy direction will be redefined. For the past eight years, cross-strait relations have become increasingly friendly. Signs of reform within the DPP have surfaced. This year is a rare opportunity to redefine cross-strait relations. But will the opportunity be lost? That depends on joint efforts on both sides. The key is a Ma Xi meeting.
2014.02.06 03:19 am