Cross-Strait Relations: The Frail Vessel Has Weathered Many Storms
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
February 18, 2014
Summary: The two sides have been separately governed for 65 years. This is longer
than a "jiazi," or a 60 year cycle in Chinese time keeping. Even from
an historical perspective, this is a long time. China has been divided
and reunified repeatedly throughout its history. Are the Chinese people on both sides of the strait unable to
learn from history and seek answers in reality? The Wang Zhang meeting
is an important step in the history of cross-strait relations. We hope
that subsequent steps will proceed in the right direction.
Full text below:
To determine the historical significance of the Wang Zhang meeting, we must begin by reviewing history. This year is the 65th anniversary of divided rule. Over the past 65 years, the two sides have experienced the flames of civil war, the Cold War standoff, the exchange of secret emissaries, the establishment of communications channels through the SEF and ARATS, and an eventual breaking of the deadlock. The journey has been tortuous. From the Koo-Wang meeting to the 2005 Lien Hu meeting and the KMT's return to power in 2008, this period has been one of repeated advances and retreats. Every step has been excruciatingly difficult. The recent Wang Zhang meeting marks a new phase in the peaceful evolution of cross-strait relations. As chairman Wang Yu-chi noted, the two sides were divided 65 years ago. He is the first government official to visit the Mainland as MAC Chairman. He said the visit was "an important milestone in the course of cross-strait relations, and an indicator of official normalization of cross-strait interaction."
Wang spoke of the "official normalization of cross-strait interaction." It may not sound like much, but it has far-reaching significance. As we all know, consultation mechanisms between the two sides have long been institutionalized. Since their initial establishment, these mechanisms have been deactivated then reactivated. Today, it is standard operating procedure. But it was always burdened with the "private sector" label. The SEF and ARATS are not official institutions. The two sides have signed a number of agreements. At the end of this month in Taipei they will sign the "Cross-Strait Meteorological Cooperation Agreement" and the "Cross-Strait Seismic Monitoring Cooperation Agreement." Nearly all cross-strait agreements require official participation and official jurisdiction. Such agreements pertain to cooperation on matters of transportation, mutual legal assistance, agricultural quarantine and inspection, customs cooperation, financial supervision, food safety, and nuclear safety. None of these agreements can be signed by private sector entities. During negotiations official representatives may be in attendance. But they have always attended as consultants or private sector participants. This is not normal.
Cross-strait consultation is conducted on a "first economics, then politics; first the easy, then the hard basis." But politics has always been the key. Without the highly political Lien Hu meeting, the evolution of peaceful cross-strait relations would have remained impossible. Ma Ying-jeou would never have come to power. The vision of cross-strait peace could never have been translated into concrete policy, and be given its kick start. So far the political channels between the two sides remain at the party to party level. Party to party dialogue and cooperation is not sufficiently representative and comprehensive. It is not sufficiently stable. That is a major problem.
To ensure functionality, representativeness, legitimacy, and permanence, cross-strait "official normalization of interaction" is essential. But at this stage the most important requirement for peaceful cross-strait relations is consensus and wisdom. By consensus we mean official interaction. We mean ending cross-strait confrontation and division, and promoting the peaceful evolution of cross-strait relations, cross-strait integration, and national revival. By wisdom, we mean the insight offered by Hong Kong's "China Review," which wrote, "If the Taiwan side drags its feet on everything, it will Inevitably lose out on golden opportunities. If the Mainland side is too narrow in its calculations, it will inevitably make improved cross-strait relations impossible."
After the Wang Zhang meeting, Taiwan's two largest political parties began confronting this new development. As a China Times editorial on February 16 pointed out, the Ma government and the ruling party must promote cross-strait political contacts, dialogue, communications, and negotiations. It must consider defense strategy, economic integration, immigration, culture, and education. Systemically speaking, it must establish a committee for the peaceful evolution of cross-strait relations. It must author a cross-strait peace program, and restore the National Unification Guidelines.
More importantly, the DPP must stop making monkey sounds. The frail vessel of cross-strait relations has already weathered countless storms. When will the DPP finally arrive at Baidicheng? The DPP must think hard. The KMT and CCP are willing to set aside their historical grievances and practical interests. They are willing to confront the cross-strait reality head on, with open hearts. They are willing to propose solutions to resolve the political obstacles in the way of peaceful development of cross-strait relations. The DPP, meanwhile, persists in foot dragging, flip-flopping, and flailing. It will be seen as out of touch with reality. The DPP has greeted the Wang Zhang meeting with narrow-minded disdain. Once again it has highlighted the party's grave limitations. Look back at the peaceful evolution of cross-strait relations. The key to breaking through political barriers is political will. The DPP must face its demons on cross-strait issues. All it requires is the will. It must jettison outdated dogma. It must transcend short-term political advantage. When the DPP does that, it will find the road ahead of it wide open.
The two sides have been separately governed for 65 years. This is longer than a "jiazi," or a 60 year cycle in Chinese time keeping. Even from an historical perspective, this is a long time. China has been divided and reunified repeatedly throughout its history. People often speak of the Three Kingdoms Era. Tsao Tsao usurped the Han throne. The Jin dynasty reunified the land. This took 60 years. Another major division was the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era. This too took 60 to 70 years. China has been divided and reunified repeatedly throughout its history. Are the Chinese people on both sides of the strait unable to learn from history and seek answers in reality? The Wang Zhang meeting is an important step in the history of cross-strait relations. We hope that subsequent steps will proceed in the right direction.
中國時報 編輯部 2014年02月18日 04:10