The 1992 Consensus: Uphold and Go Beyond
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 29, 2015
Executive Summary: Beijing is reluctant to declare that "one China is the People's Republic
of China". It realizes that harping on this point too vehemently will
kill the 1992 consensus, and there will be nothing left to uphold.
Taipei may argue that "One China is the Republic of China". But
agreement about this is lacking on Taiwan, and so is trust across the
Strait. The 1992 consensus may be defective, but it is nevertheless
effective. Therefore if one wishes to see the 1992 consensus "upheld",
then one really must think about "going beyond" it.
Full Text Below:
The 1992 consensus has become the core political issue of the 2016 general election. A storm is brewing. Change is at hand. Everyone has declared where they stand.
One. Xi Jinping said the 1992 consensus is the political basis for cross-Strait relations. If it is damaged, "The foundation will be undermined, and the ground will shake." Two. Tsai Ing-wen said that if the 1992 consensus is merely a “label”, it cannot improve cross-Strait relations. Three. Eric Chu's father in law Kao Yu-jen said, "We must go beyond the 1992 consensus". Kao said the two sides must negotiate "political relations, foreign affairs, military confidence-building measures, and a peace framework", as soon as possible. Four. Eric Chu remained guarded about "going beyond" the 1992 consensus. He said the KMT “upholds” the 1992 consensus. Five. MAC chairwoman Hsia Li-yen domestic agreement on the 1992 consensus is lacking, as is cross-Strait trust. Therefore talk of “going beyond” the 1992 consensus is premature. He said talk of “going beyond” the 1992 consensus was Kao Yu-jen's personal opinion, and that the time is not yet ripe. Hsia reaffirmed the 1992 consensus and one China, different interpretations. Six. Former executive director of the AIT Barbara Schrage said that the DPP should acknowledge the importance of the 1992 consensus and not duck the issue.
These declarations show that the 1992 consensus cannot be ignored during the 2016 general election. Each of the parties talked about either upholding the 1992 consensus, or going beyond it. Tsai Ing-wen said that the 1992 consensus must be more than a "label". She has apparently acknowledged the existence of 1992 consensus, and does not wish to see it reduced to a mere “label”. Hsia Li-yen was blunt, saying domestic agreement on the 1992 consensus was lacking, therefore “going beyond” it was out of the question. In fact the 1992 consensus is already the political basis for cross-Strait relations, precisely because it is a "label". When different parties see this "label", they know exactly where the ambiguity lies. The 1992 consensus is controversial because the "label" remains ambiguous. This leads to a lack of domestic agreement and a lack of cross-Strait trust. This is why some oppose “labeling” the 1992 consensus, some advocate "upholding" the 1992 consensus, and some advocate “going beyond” the 1992 consensus.
Suppose the two sides and the public on Taiwan cannot agree on the meaning of the 1992 consensus? What would "upholding” the 1992 consensus mean? What would “going beyond” the 1992 consensus mean? For example, everyone knows that the core meaning of the 1992 consensus is the "one China framework". But what is “one China”? On that there is no consensus. To the Ma government, "one China" means “one China, different interpretations” under the ROC Constitution. It has repeatedly affirmed that "one China is the Republic of China". Beijing's "one China" means "the defense of one China in accordance with the constitution". For Beijing, "China is the People's Republic of China", therefore it operates on that basis. But it currently emphasizes peaceful development. Therefore it seldom openly proclaims that "One China is the People's Republic of China". The Ma government openly proclaims that "One China is the Republic of China". But can it continue doing this? Even Beijing is reluctant to assert that "One China is the People's Republic of China". Can it continue doing this?
Alas, upholding the 1992 consensus is still necessary. It remains the most balanced "one China definition" that still leaves room for interpretation. Under the 1992 consensus, the Ma government can openly proclaim that "One China is the Republic of China", and advocate "one China, different interpretations". Beijing on the other hand, finds it awkward to proclaim that "One China is the People's Republic of China", and to advocate "one country, two systems". That is a good reason to uphold the 1992 consensus. Beijing must acknowledge that under the 1992 consensus, “recognizing the Republic of China does not mean recognizing Taiwan independence". Tacit recognition of the "Republic of China" does not contradict the "one China framework". Meanwhile, we can either uphold the 1992 consensus or go beyond it.
The wise move is not to hack up the 1992 consensus. We should not create another term to replace the 1992 consensus. We should uphold the 1992 consensus, then seek to go beyond it. We can uphold the 1992 consensus "one China framework" even as we seek to go beyond its “one China content”.
Even the DPP should consider upholding the 1992 consensus. The core of the 1992 consensus is the "one China framework” and “opposition to Taiwan independence". Given global and domestic conditions, Taiwan independence is impossible. If the DPP abandons Taiwan independence, it can only win, not lose. If the DPP is willing to work within the 1992 consensus and the "one China framework", it can go beyond the 1992 consensus and oppose “labeling”. If it rejects the 1992 consensus, to the point where the earth shakes, then even “one China, different interpretations” will no longer be an option.
Upholding the 1992 consensus means upholding “one China, different interpretations” and “different interpretations of one China”. This is something that Hu Jintao pledged Bush Jr. on the hotline. This is what Schrage was covertly authorized by the US to say. This is something that can be upheld for some time into the future, unless of course Taipei, Washington, and Beijing all agree to go beyond the 1992 consensus. Going beyond the 1992 consensus should entail a "big roof concept of China”. It should entail wartime governments transformed into separate ruling governments, consistent with Kao Yu-jen's four questions. This upholds and goes beyond the 1992 consensus. Unless we go beyond the path, all we can do is continue down our own path.
Beijing is reluctant to declare that "one China is the People's Republic of China". It realizes that harping on this point too vehemently will kill the 1992 consensus, and there will be nothing left to uphold. Taipei may argue that "One China is the Republic of China". But agreement about this is lacking on Taiwan, and so is trust across the Strait. The 1992 consensus may be defective, but it is nevertheless effective. Therefore if one wishes to see the 1992 consensus "upheld", then one really must think about "going beyond" it.
2015-03-29 01:29:44 聯合報 聯合報社論