Tsai Ing-wen Must Do More than “Continue Past Cross-Strait Policy”
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 22, 2014
Executive Summary: In 2012 Tsai Ing-wen said, "If the DPP returns to power, it will continue the cross-Strait policies of the previous administration." As 2016 approaches Tsai must repeat these words, and add another, "The DPP will unconditionally accept the Ma administration's 1992 consensus, and one China, different interpretations.”
Full Text Below:
During the 2012 presidential election, Tsai promised that the DPP would "unconditionally accept" ECFA, which she previously condemned as "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." She said, "If the DPP returns to power, it will continue the former administration's cross-Strait policy." Yet she repudiated the "1992 consensus." This made it impossible to reconcile her cross-Strait rhetoric with her campaign promise. This was the main reason for her defeat. Now that scenario is being replayed. Is history repeating itself?
During a recent visit to the US, DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu said that the results of the nine in one election should not be interpreted as a failure on the part of the cross-Strait policy advocated by Beijing and the KMT. He did not say that the cross-Strait policy adopted by Beijing and the KMT was correct or successful. But he was clear that it "should not be interpreted as a failure." Wu made this statement in his capacity as Secretary-General of the DPP. He was probably paving the way for a future DPP declaration that it was "continuing the previous administration's cross-Strait policy."
Joseph Wu said that if people think the one China principle or the 1992 consensus are that important, then the two sides need to talk. He said they "can be topics of discussion, but not a preconditions for discussions." This was a departure from Tsai Ing-wen's 2012 assertion that there was no such thing as a 1992 consensus.
In fact, as the DPP knows, the Ma government, under the 1992 consensus, has successfully used globalization to guide cross-Strait relations. Therefore its policies can hardly be interpreted as a failure. By the same token, Beijing, under the 1992 consensus, has successfully promoted ECFA and "peaceful development." This can hardly be interpreted as a failure either. This cross-Strait framework may contain flaws and pose risks. But the flaws can be remedied and the risks can be minimized. Globalization reigns supreme. The rise of Mainland China foretells Taiwan's marginalization. This framework is already Taiwan's only survival strategy.
Joseph Wu said, "This cannot be interpreted as [Mainland] China's failure or the failure of KMT cross-Strait policy.” This means the DPP is unable to propose a better or different policy. It is likely to "continue the previous administration's cross-Strait policy." The DPP knows it must reform its cross-Strait policy. Nevertheless, despite this political reality, the DPP shows no sign of relenting on the 1992 consensus. It persists in obstructing ECFA follow-up agreements and the establishment of cross-Strait representative offices. The DPP remains caught in a contradiction. It appears to be repeating the same scenario as it did in 2012.
During the Sunflower Student Movement protests, the DPP encouraged anti-Ma and anti-Mainland mob sentiments. It incited hatred against the STA and other ECFA follow-up agreements. These incitements to violence attempted to prove that “The cross-Strait policy advocated by Beijing and the KMT is mistaken and a failure." The DPP reaped the political rewards of characterizing the cross-Strait policy advocated by Beijing and the KMT as mistaken and failed. This was a major factor in the DPP's populist victory in the nine in one election. Now that the election is over, Joseph Wu is saying that the nine in one election results should not be interpreted as China's failure or a failure of KMT cross-Strait policy. As we all know, those who fabricate lies are obligated to refute them.
Sunflower Student Movement agitation and public objections to cross-Strait policy provided the impetus for anti-government sentiment during the nine in one election. These sidelined other events and factors. Therefore the result of this election cannot be attributed solely to cross-Strait policy. But the 2016 presidential election debate will be about cross-Strait policy. There should be no doubt about that. The DPP say it believes that the cross-Strait policy advocated by Beijing and the KMT “cannot be interpreted as a failure." If so, how does it intend to resolve the riddle of its cross-Strait policy?
On the 17th, Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office issued its first comments on the impact of the nine in one elections on cross-Strait relations. It made three points. One. It reiterated that the cross-Strait relationship was based on the 1992 consensus. Two. City to city exchanges between Taipei and Shanghai must also be based on 1992 consensus. Three. The interaction between CPC and KMT leaders must of course insist on the 1992 consensus and predicted a Chu Xi meeting. The above shows that Beijing does not consider the nine in one election results proof that the cross-Strait policy advocated by Beijing and the KMT was a failure. The situation is similar to 2012. But the pressure on the DPP is far greater than it was back then. By contrast, the DPP today has been taken hostage by the Sunflower Student Movement, it has more trouble reforming its cross-Strait policies than before.
Given this dilemma, the DPP should first deal with the 1992 consensus. Joseph Wu said that the 1992 consensus can be a topic of discussion, but it cannot be a precondition for discussions. But if the 1992 consensus became a topic of discussion, it would be even more vaguely defined, with different interpretations. It would be even more unmanageable. The 1992 consensus is subject to different interpretations. If the ambiguity in it is eliminated, if the 1992 consensus is eliminated, the bottom line becomes crystal clear: Taiwan independence is out of the question. The DPP needs to think again. Would it prefer to accept the 1992 consensus, with all its glorious ambiguity? Or would it prefer a blunt declaration flatly rejecting Taiwan independence? Does it really want to paint itself into that corner? Does the DPP really want to burst that bubble? As for the ECFA follow-up provisions, the DPP should use the opportunity to promote their implementation before the 2016 election. This will help the party in the event it returns to office and must “unconditionally accept” it.
In 2012 Tsai Ing-wen said, "If the DPP returns to power, it will continue the cross-Strait policies of the previous administration." As 2016 approaches Tsai must repeat these words, and add another, "The DPP will unconditionally accept the Ma administration's 1992 consensus, and one China, different interpretations.”
2014.12.22 02:24 am