One Country, Two Systems and Taiwan Consciousness
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 5th, 2015
Executive Summary: Legally and realistically, we already define Taiwan and the Mainland as a "one country, two regions". These two regions have their own jurisdictions and their own political systems. This already is a form of "one country, two systems." If we define the cross-Strait status quo as the Taiwan version of "one country, two systems", then Taiwan consciousness and one country, two systems can be integrated.
Full Text Below:
The Sunflower Student Movement and nine in one election campaign have led to rapid changes in cross-Strait relations, and significantly increased uncertainty. Zhang Nianchi, director of the Shanghai Institute of East Asian Affairs, recently wrote, "The rapid development of cross-Strait relations, and the acceleration of the integration process, has been artificially demagogued and exaggerated. This has frightened many on Taiwan. The public on Taiwan is probably unprepared for this. Cross-Strait relations have shifted opposing independence to resisting reunification.” Zhang Nianchi was chief aid to the first ARATS chief Wang Daohan. He has been studying cross-Strait issues for over 30 years. He fully understands how the public on Taiwan thinks, and hit the nail squarely on the head.
The changes on Taiwan reflect intense reactions to one country, two systems and Taiwan consciousness. Zhang Nianchi said that Mainland goodwill has exerted tremendous pro-reunification pressure. Ironically six years of peaceful cross-Strait relations have provoked a powerful backlash. People on Taiwan are afraid. Young people unprepared for reunification are uneasy. Taiwan independence politicians used opposition to the STA as an excuse to launch the Sunflower Student Movement, an anti-[Mainland] China student movement, social movements, and citizens movements. They have reinforced the notion that “Taiwan's future must be decided by 23 million people on Taiwan”. This "Taiwan consciousness" has been amplified and currently resonates throughout society. Zhang Nianchi said that faced with these "new situations and new problems," both sides are waiting to see how Xi Jinping reacts.
Last May, when Xi Jinping met with James Soong, he advanced his "Four Constants" concept. He reaffirmed the status quo in cross-Strait relations. In September, he extended a rare invitation to pro-reunification advocates. He presented a unified system, saying that, "Peaceful reunification and one country, two system is not merely the solution to the Taiwan problem, it is also the best way to achieve national unity." The Mainland has not emphasized peaceful reunification and one country, two system for some time. As a result, Xi's statement provoked an intense reaction on Taiwan. It provoked fears that Mainland China was changing its policy of peaceful development. But Zhang Nianchi clarified. He said reunification was of course Xi Jinping's bottom line. Therefore the strategic ambiguity that has prevailed for so long needed clarification. But Xi also made a clear distinction between the "Taiwan Version of one country, two systems" and the Hong Kong or Macao versions. Taiwan need not worry about political changes in Hong Kong, he said.
Last year the Sunflower Student Movement touched off a wave of anti-[Mainland] China, anti-reunification sentiment, as well as intensified Taiwan consciousness. This, along with the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, forced Xi Jinping to restate Beijing's policy more clearly and firmly.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen gleefully declared that Taiwan independence has already become a "natural ingredient" for the younger generation. President Ma's six year long policy has come to an abrupt end. Cross-Strait relations are now stagnant. The result was last year's nine in one election debacle for the KMT. Expectations are that the Mainland's Taiwan policy will become increasingly clear and firm.
One country, two systems has been stigmatized. "Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan", has become a deceptive slogan calculated to frighten the public on Taiwan. Some conflate Taiwan consciousness with Taiwan independence in order to oppose Mainland China. If we allow Taiwan consciousness and one country, two systems to be mischaracterized and distorted, the two sides will collide head on, like freight trains. The result will be disaster for cross-Strait relations, and disaster for the public on Taiwan. The two sides must seek a new understanding. One country, two systems must merge with Taiwan consciousness and mutual tolerance. One country, two systems must merge with Taiwan consciousness to avoid a disaster for the Chinese nation.
The core meaning of Taiwan consciousness is that the people on Taiwan must be their own masters. The existing ROC constitutional framework represents our values. Even some in the green camp understand and affirm this. Taiwan consciousness means defending Taiwan's values and institutions, so that the people on Taiwan remain their own masters. If one country, two systems can integrate this, affirm the existing constitutional order, and the existing social system, then Taiwan consciousness and one country, two systems can merge. Once one country, two systems can establish a link with Taiwan consciousness, the two systems can then merge.
Professor Chen Kongli, a Taiwan expert with the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, recently published an article on the rise of Taiwan consciousness. Chen said the Mainland should respect the differences, tolerate the differences, and acknowledge the differences. It should not attempt to eradicate the differences. Instead, it should maintain normal exchanges and contacts, increase consensus and mutual trust. It should work with those on Taiwan toward the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. It should link "identification with Taiwan" with "identification with China”, such that one country, two systems can include mainstream Taiwan consciousness.
Zhang Nianchi said that Xi Jinping revisited one country, two systems because he hopes to establish a new model distinct from the one country, two systems model for Hong Kong and Macao. That was why he specifically proposed the "three adequacies" concept. This concept includes a one country, two systems model that adequately accounts for the realities of Taiwan, that adequately responds to views and proposals from both sides, that adequately protects the interests of Taiwan compatriots. Zhang Nianchi said the Taiwan model for one country, two systems would "allow the maintenance of the status quo." We agree with Director Zhang. We on Taiwan must free ourselves from the stereotype of one country, two systems, and together with the Mainland, establish a new understanding of "peaceful reunification, one country, two systems."
In fact, legally and realistically, we already define Taiwan and the Mainland as a "one country, two regions". These two regions have their own jurisdictions and their own political systems. This already is a form of "one country, two systems." If we define the cross-Strait status quo as the Taiwan version of "one country, two systems", then Taiwan consciousness and one country, two systems can be integrated.