Hold the Ma Xi Meeting in a Third Locale?
United Daily News editorial
(Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
March 7, 2014
Summary: As we can see from Sun Yafu's remarks, Beijing knows it must not pass up this chance for a Ma Xi meeting. The APEC conference in Beijing is still the preferred venue for a Ma Xi meeting. If it is held in a third venue, Honolulu and Geneva are equally good. But most importantly, it must underscore that neither side gobbles up the other.
Full text below:
Sun Yafu is vice president of ARATS. During an interview with a reporter from this newspaper, Sun said many venues are suitable for a Ma Xi meeting. He said a third locale could be considered. He said, "If we make detailed plans for a meeting of leaders from the two sides, the possibilities are endless."
In response, an unnamed senior MAC official responded. He said the Taipei side still believes the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference remins the most appropriate venue for a Ma Xi meeting. He said that for time being the Taipei side had no other view on the matter.
Sun Yafu's statement suggests the following. One. Beijing has ruled out a Ma Xi meeting at APEC this fall. This is increasingly apparent. Two. Beijing is more willing to arrange a Ma Xi meeting than before. This too is increasingly apparent. Three. Beijing is not being stubborn when it refuses to hold the meeting at APEC. Beijing is willing to hold it at a third locale. Four. Sun Yafu's language shows that if Ma and Xi meet, they will be able to address each other as "the leader of the Taiwan side" and "the leader of the Mainland side." Five. Sun is emphasizing the content of a Ma Xi meeting.
We think the Beijing APEC conference is the most suitable venue for a Ma Xi meeting. Consider Taipei's perspective. Suppose Ma Ying-jeou as "the leader of the Taiwan side" is able to meet with "the leader of the Mainland side," in the Great Hall of the People? Suppose he is also able to meet with other economic leaders at APEC? This would be interpreted as a further expression of the "one China framework." Consider Beijing's perspective. Suppose Ma Ying-jeou visits the Great Hall of the People and meets with Xi Jinping? This would underscore the connection between the two sides within the "one China framework." On the other hand, suppose Ma Ying-jeou is photographed shuttling back and forth between various heads of state? This is something that Beijing may have difficulty accepting, internationally and domestically.
Sun Yafu's remarks are revealing. Beijing has reiterated that the "cross-strait leaders meeting need not be held in an international venue." Beijing probably means that an international conference such as APEC need not be the venue for a Ma Xi meeting. Beijing however is amenable to holding the meeting in a third locale, i.e., a foreign locale. As Beijing sees it, that would be a "foreign venue" but not an "international venue."
Zhongnanhai has yet to exercise "greater imagination ." Beijing considers a Ma Xi meeting at APEC problematic. Ma Ying-jeou would not merely arrive in Beijing. He would also attend APEC. He would not merely attend APEC. He would also meet Xi Jinping alone in the Great Hall of the People. A Ma Xi meeting held in Beijing's "home court" would be the Mainland's first choice. But Beijing wants the Ma Xi meeting delinked from the APEC conference. That is why it has suggested a "third locale." Beijing is willing to forsake its "home court advantage" and to ask the Ma government to choose a "third locale." The ball is now back in the Ma's court.
As previously noted, a Ma Xi meeting held in Beijing at the APEC conference is the Ma government's first choice. This is due to public sentiment on Taiwan. A Ma Xi meeting at the APEC conference in Beijing would receive greater public support. If the meeting were moved to a "third locale" it would be obvious that it was Ma's second choice. it would be obvious that it was the resulf of his failure to get his first choice, APEC. This would be sure to generate controversy. But consider another perspective. Holding the meeting at a "third locale" would avoid Beijing's "home court advantage." Ma and Xi would still be able to address each other as "the leader of the Taiwan side" and "the leader of the Mainland side." They would still meet as peers and equals, even more than they would have had they met in Beijing. A "third locale" would not be an "international conference" and an "international venue." But no one could deny it was "international" in character. Therefore a Ma Xi meeting held in Beijing at the APEC conference, as opposed to one held at a "third locale" each have their pros and cons.
Further contemplation raises two questions. One. Where would this "third locale" be? Two. Sun Yafu asked how the content of the meeting for the leaders of the two sides would be determined. First consider the locale. Allow us to make a suggestion. The third locale could be Honolulu. Reason One: Honolulu is where Sun Yat-sen founded the Xinzhonghui. It is the common origin for both sides. Reason Two: The Hawaiian Islands are offshore islands of the United States. This would underscore how far peaceful cross-strait relations have come. This would show that it is an undertaking of global significance. A second choice for the third locale could be Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva is a symbol of human civilization and peace. Singapore would also do. But it might make it harder for any Ma Xi meeting to outshine the Koo-Wang meeting.
Finally, the key is the content of the Ma Xi meeting. We think the content of the Ma Xi meeting must include certain elements. It must advance toward the "big roof concept of China." It must avoid "You gobbling me up and me gobbling you up." In other words, the Ma Xi meeting must recognize the Republic of China under the big roof concept of China.
Any Ma Xi meeting must be consistent with the above. Otherwise Ma Ying-jeou could participate in a Ma Xi meeting at a third locale, but the results would add up to nothing. A Ma Xi meeting in a third locale must produce these results. Otherwise its impact on cross-strait relations would be negative. Why? Because during any Ma Xi meeting, the ROC public and not just Ma, would be seated across from Xi Jinping.
As we can see from Sun Yafu's remarks, Beijing knows it must not pass up this chance for a Ma Xi meeting. The APEC conference in Beijing is still the preferred venue for a Ma Xi meeting. If it is held in a third venue, Honolulu and Geneva are equally good. But most importantly, it must underscore that neither side gobbles up the other.
2014.03.07 04:23 am