Cross-Strait Peaceful Development Must Not Be Delayed
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
May 6, 2014
Summary: A cross-Strait peace agreement will require consensus. Achieving an
internal consensus on both sides, as well as among East Asian nations
with a strategic interest will not be easy. The authorities on both
sides must remain true to their principles. They must pursue their
ideals, free their minds, be realistic, cautious, and discreet.
Full text below:
Following the Sunflower Student Movement, a whole range of street protests erupted one after the other. These represent the sudden outbreak of years of long-festering maladies. As an old Chinese expression has it, "Three feet of ice is not the result of an overnight chill." Since the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian regimes, the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan have been locked in internecine struggles. Politicians have deliberately incited mob sentiment. The result has been the rise of populism. Taiwan has frittered away nearly 30 years of precious time. It has become a cautionary tale for neighboring countries. Even the foreign media has issued alerts, and expressed concern that the future of Taiwan is being decided on its streets. Taiwan scholars pessimistically note
that Taiwan has become mired in a vicious cycle. Is the Republic of China about to perish? That may be an overstatement. But Taiwan is definitely sinking to the level of a Third World nation. That is the harsh reality we must face.
In April, the Hong Kong based China Review magazine published a special edition dedicated to the cross-Strait peace agreement. It identified issues relevant to cross-Strait relations. It listed what ought to be in a peace agreement. It drew a map showing how to reach a peace agreement. It proposed a one China framework. It urged the two sides to free their thinking, remain realistic, and face facts. The two sides must seek consensus, win-win,
and process-orientation. They must value people, cooperation, and good faith.
In particular, they must be pragmatic, forward-looking, and acknowledge the existence of the Republic of China. Mainland scholars now have greater goodwill and understanding regarding this matter. The Ma administration is currently mired in internal political turmoil. It is totally preoccupied, and can barely take care of itself. All it can do is view the good intentions of the Mainland as it would a distant rainbow.
Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian to the contrary notwithstanding, both sides want a cross-Strait peace agreement. Lien Chan and Ma Ying-jeou have repeatedly urged a bilateral peace agreement. Just before the 2012 presidential election, Ma Ying-jeou yet again proposed a cross-Strait peace agreement. Later on however, he quickly backed away from it, by adding all sorts of preconditions, including "sufficient public support, national need, and legislative oversight." On the Chinese mainland, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jingtao also urged the two sides to end hostilities and reach a peace agreement.
After Xi Jinping assumed power the CCP 18th National Party Congress report
said a cross-Strait peace agreement would promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. This showed that the two sides are currently, or were at one time, willing to sign a peace agreement. Alas, no progress has been made so far.
The the CCP's current policy toward Taiwan is peaceful development, and "The two sides are one family." This is unlikely to change in the near future.
That does not mean the Mainland has no timetable or expectations regarding cross-Strait relations. Everyone in Beijing feels a tremendous sense of urgency
about peace agreements and related issues. Some argue that the process should be like putting on a hat. The two sides should reach an agreement on basic principles and immediately sign a peace agreement. Other issues, such as military security mutual trust mechanisms and the cessation of hostilities can be addressed later. Others argue that the process should be like stacking wood.
The two sides should proceed from the bottom-up, from large to small, until they reach a peace agreement.
For Taiwan, a cross-Strait peace agreement implies eventual reunification.
But Beijing realizes that peace is an ongoing process. Beijing recognizes Taipei's shared jurisdiction and sovereignty. Will people on both sides accept divided rule and shared sovereignty? If they can, this will stabilize cross-Strait relations within the established framework. In turn, this will secure unity and stability within the region and cross-Strait peace. A peace agreement is of course worth the effort. But before the two sides can sign a peace agreement
much homework remains to be done. The political status of the two sides must be defined. The matter of international intervention must be addressed. Issues such as the cessation of hostilities, the establishment of security and mutual trust, international activities, the mechanics of the signing ceremony, and the mechanic of implemention have yet to be clarified. As this newspaper has advocated before, a preliminary KMT/CCP peace agreement is worth considering.
Cross-Strait relations will not change as a result of the student protests. The current political climate may be difficult. But President Ma must remain true to his principles. The government agencies in charge and the SEF should handle the matter calmly and rationally, pragmatically and progressively.
They should adopt a phased process, beginning with the easy and proceeding to the difficult, beginning with economics and proceeding to politics.
They should assess the situation, promote cross-Strait exchanges and establish a pragmatic process. They should not rule out the signing of a peace agreement. If anything, they must expedite it. They should take the initiative to put forward their own ideas, win the support of the international community and public opinion. Mainland agencies need to understand the political and social forces on Taiwan, and how they differ from those on the Mainland. Progress in cross-Strait relations is currently difficult. In the spirit of "The two sides are one family" the Mainland must be patient. The Mainland has already invested considerable resources on Taiwan. But it has yet to win hearts and minds on Taiwan. The Mainland must not give up. It should dig more deeply.
It must learn how to make people on Taiwan like and know the Mainland.
A cross-Strait peace agreement will require consensus. Achieving an internal consensus on both sides, as well as among East Asian nations with a strategic interest will not be easy. The authorities on both sides must remain true to their principles. They must pursue their ideals, free their minds, be realistic, cautious, and discreet.
2014年05月06日 04:09 中國時報 本報訊