Arrange a Ma Xi Meeting, Issue a One China Joint Declaration
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
March 13, 2014
Summary: Ma and Xi can meet at a third locale or a third country. The important thing is that the meeting must be treated as a domestic affair. If both sides agree that symbolism is more important, then they must demonstrate goodwill on matters of protocol. They must make compromises without fear of losing face. As long as the two men can meet, a "one China joint affirmation" will be a foregone conclusion. This would show that the Chinese people on both sides of the strait can resolve their political differences, and are willing to pursue peace.
Full text below:
Much has happened recently, internationally, on Taiwan, and across the Taiwan Strait. The Malaysian Airlines incident has attracted global attention. So far no trace of the plane has been found. The public is concerned. The turmoil in Ukraine, including Crimean independence, has impacted relations between the United States, Europe, and Russia. The repercussions are far-reaching. Election season on Taiwan is approaching. Both the KMT and DPP election campaigns are plagued by internal problems. A dispute between Su and Tsai is about to erupt. Times are hard. The Wang Zhang and Lien Xi meetings have adjourned. How can bilateral relations move forward? Can a Ma Xi meeting be arranged? The question demands collective brainstorming. The ruling and opposition parties appear determined to wage a lose/lose battle over the cross-strait trade and services agreement. Absent a showdown, any sort of resolution is unlikely.
In general, one cannot ignore the hard realities. How should they be dealt with? How will they play out? A number of elements are involved. One's decisions depend on one's values. Take cross-strait relations. The two sides have declared their official views. The realities are apparent. President Ma Ying-jeou has a subjective desire. He also has an objective need. In an appropriate capacity, he hopes to meet with Mainland President Xi Jinping, at and appropriate time and appropriate place. Taipei considers the November APEC conference in Beijing the most appropriate venue. Mainland China understands Taiwan's position. It is willing to consider a meeting between Xi and Ma. It is even willing to make major concessions. But it has different considerations regarding the venue and the theme of the meeting. In principle, it does not favor the two mean meeting at APEC.
Both sides want to meet. That is a reality. But each has concerns regarding how and where they should meet. We must all facilitate such a meeting, They should ask themselves, is the symbolic value of such a meeting more important, or the practical rewards? If one can achieve both, that is of course ideal. But when the obstacles are difficult or near impossible, shouldn't the two sides consider a higher, more strategic perspective? A different way of thinking means different values.
Suppose one's greatest concern is national reunification? Suppose one's concern is to make a breakthrough in cross-strait relations. One must not start out by making an about face. Symbolism is the most important consideration. But suppose one's concern is practical rewards? Then of course one must be a bean counter. One must move carefully in order to force the other side to make the most concessions possible.
Naturally the two sides should deal with cross-strait issues. Most major nations believe the symbolic significance of a Ma Xi meeting would be greater than its practical significance. They are encouraging the two sides to reduce tensions and solve problems through dialogue. They understand Taiwan's internal politics and the Mainland's political concerns. The window of opportunity for the two to meet is narrow. Naturally there is no reason to deliberately stand in the way of a Ma Xi meeting. Other nations wish such a meeting well. They merely offer Taiwan some a well-intentioned advice. One must think before acting. One approach complex issues with a progressive approach. One must not have overly high expectations. Only such an approach is consistent with regional security for all. The two sides should not disregard other nations' goodwill, or keep everyone in the dark.
The two sides are still haggling over the time and place for the Ma Xi meeting. Taipei has made clear it wants to meet at APEC. It has repeatedly stressed that there is no alternative. It is waiting for the nod from the Mainland. Its reasoning seems to make sense. The Mainland considers the APEC venue inappropriate. But it considers a third locale or country acceptable, as long as it is not an international venue. This leaves considerable room for the imagination. Some have suggested Hawaii, Taiping Island, Singapore, Switzerland, even Mongolia. Some of the suggestions are almost comical. The Mainland has concerns about meeting at APEC. To be fair, it is not without reason. A Ma Xi meeting could unfold according to the script. But suppose Japan's Abe, or America's Barack Obama, or any other national leader were to warmly embrace Ma Ying-jeou? Suppose he or she, intentionally or otherwise, welcomed "Taiwan's president?" Suppose he or she expressed hoped that his attendance would become routine? This alone would give Beijing cold sweats. Therefore it must be avoided.
The DPP persists in obstructing cross-strait peaceful development. Along with the CCP and KMT, it often plays word games. Sometimes these games resemble theology or metaphysics. Arguments persist over Zhonghua Taipei vs. Zhonguo Taipei, the one China framework vs. one China architecture, sovereignty vs. jurisdiction, the Koo Wang meeting vs. the Wang Koo meeting, and domestic vs. international. Each party feels it is righteous and merely "telling it like it is." But when the crisis has passed, the entire affair seems ridiculous.
Ma and Xi can meet at a third locale or a third country. The important thing is that the meeting must be treated as a domestic affair. If both sides agree that symbolism is more important, then they must demonstrate goodwill on matters of protocol. They must make compromises without fear of losing face. In 1992, the two sides achieved a consensus. They moved forward on the basis of one China, different interpretations. One can call it the "one China framework," "one China architecture," or "one China roof." As long as the two men can meet, a "one China joint affirmation" will be a foregone conclusion. This would show that the Chinese people on both sides of the strait can resolve their political differences, and are willing to pursue peace. A Ma Xi meeting could become a model for mankind, and make an historic contribution to China.
中國時報 編輯部 2014年03月13日 04:10