Wang Zhang Meeting: A New Understanding on National Identity
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
February 10, 2014
Summary: We hope the two sides will view the Wang Zhang meeting and the opportunity for the two to address each other by their official titles, as a major achievement. We hope they can reach a new understanding on the two sides' political and national identity. If Wang and Zhang can meet, why can't Ma and Xi?
Full text below:
ROC Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Wang Yu-chi will travel to the Mainland tomorrow. The most important aspect of his trip, is that Wang Yu-chi will be visiting using his official title. He will also be addressing officials on the other side by their official titles. This is the first time the two sides have greeted each other as one head of government to another head of government.
Of course, the significance of this must not be blown out of proportion. For the time being, this is merely a special case. It does not mean all officials from the two sides will be addressing each other by their official titles. But both Wang and Zhang are heads of government. Suppose this is applied to higher level officials? The MAC is part of the Executive Yuan. The Taiwan Affairs Office is part of the State Council. Suppose this is applied to even higher level officials? The Executive Yuan is part of the ROC. The State Council is part of the PRC. Admittedly this is unlikely to happen any time soon. But Wang and Zhang have removed their "white gloves." They have referred to each other by their official titles. . They have taken the first step in establishing a new consensus on the two sides' political and national identities.
Beijing is being cautious about this first step. Before Chairman Wang departed, word emerged that Beijing had issued "Three Taboos." One. Political issues must not be discussed. Two. The term "Republic of China" must not be mentioned. Three. Terms such as human rights, democracy , the rule of law, and president must not be mentioned. In other words, this meeting has constraints. The terms "Chairman Wang" and "Director Zhang" are acceptable. But "president" and "Republic of China" remain taboo. This is odd. After all, Beijing recognizes "Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Wang Yu-chi." Yet without the ROC, without the presidential office, without the Executive Yuan, there would be no Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Wang Yu-chi.
This meeting permits the use of "Chairman Wang" and "Director Zhang." This is a meaningful step forward. But proceeding directly to the use of "Republic of China " or "president" remains forbidden. This is regrettable. We do not recommend taking a mile when we have been given an inch. To do so would be premature. But we hope the two sides will cherish the "Chairman Wang" and "Director Zhang" inch that they have already been given. After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. A mighty torrent begins with a tiny trickle.
The purpose of the Wang Zhang meeting is to establish cross-strait representative offices and deal with other matters. But these matters could have been managed without the Wang Zhang meeting. Therefore the real significance of the visit and meeting is that "Chairman Wang" is received by "Director Zhang." This amounts to a "head of government meets a head of government" protocol. Of course Wang and Zhang addressing each other by their official titles has many implications. Many issues still cannot be voiced too loudly or expressed too clearly. For the time being, one cannot expect this protocol to be applied to other heads of the two governments, such as the president and national secretary. But this amounts to a difficult and significant first step. We hope the two sides can work together. We hope they can establish a new understanding regarding their political and national identity.
The current cross-strait political understanding is summed up in the "one China framework." Beijing's "one China framework" implies that "one China" is the People's Republic of China. The Ma adminstration's counterargument is that "one China" is the Republic of China. This framework is referred to as "one China, different interpretations." Unfortunately, this framework does not permit the two sides to address each other by their official titles. Also, it amounts to a different kind of "two states theory." To resolve this "two states" dilemma, the only solution is for the two sides to accept a "big roof concept of China." Under this "Greater One China Framework" meta-concept, the two sides' sovereignty overlap and is shared. Such a framework encompasses both the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. It would eliminate any lingering concerns that it constituted a "two states theory." Officials from both sides would have a legal basis by which to address each other by their official titles.
The only legal basis for a Wang Zhang meeting, one in which officials from the two sides address each other by their official titles, is the "big roof concept of one China." Both the ROC and the PRC are subsumed under the "big roof concept of China." Therefore Chairman Wang and Director Zhang addressing each other using their official titles would not be the resulf of any "two states theory," but rather the "big roof concept of one China."
As we can see, the "big roof concept of China" is real. Chairman Wang Yu-chi and Director Zhang Zhijun are real. Political considerations may force us to deny this reality, for now. But one day Chairman Wang and Director Zhang will address each other by their official titles. Political considerations may force us to deny the facts. But they cannot eradicate the facts. Will the two sides be reduced to a coercive and oppressive "kill or be killed" scenario? If not, the only solution is the "big roof concept of China." Accordingly to this concept, Wang and Zhang addressing each other by their official titles can be regarded as a tentative step in the direction of the "big roof concept of China." We must proceed with caution. But we must never retreat.
We hope the two sides will view the Wang Zhang meeting and the opportunity for the two to address each other by their official titles, as a major achievement. We hope they can reach a new understanding on the two sides' political and national identity. If Wang and Zhang can meet, why can't Ma and Xi?
2014.02.10 03:23 am