Thursday, April 23, 2015

DPP Cross-Strait Policy Change: Whether, When and How

DPP Cross-Strait Policy Change: Whether, When and How
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
April 24, 2015

Executive Summary: If the DPP wins the 2016 presidential election and returns to power, what will happen to cross-Strait relations? Will the waters remain calm, as Tsai Ing-wen predicts? Or will or the earth shake, as Xi Jinping warns? Will the DPP ever change its cross-Strait policy? If so, when and how? 

Full Text Below:

If the DPP wins the 2016 presidential election and returns to power, what will happen to cross-Strait relations? Will the waters remain calm, as Tsai Ing-wen predicts? Or will or the earth shake, as Xi Jinping warns? Will the DPP ever change its cross-Strait policy? If so, when and how? 

The first question is "Will the DPP will ever change?"  The DPP is split into two camps. Camp One argues that the DPP presidential campaign is obviously going well. So why change the party's cross-Strait policy? Camp Two also argues that the election is going well. But it concludes therefore that the time is ripe for change. These two camps differ because they interpret public opinion differently. Those who oppose change, attribute DPP public support to hatred of Mainland China and support for Taiwan independence. Their focus is on short term election advantage. Those who advocate change, understand that the public expects more from the DPP. It hopes the DPP will improve. It hopes that the DPP will become more than what it has been. Their focus is on the long term.

We believe the DPP must change. As Hsu Hsing-liang said, if the DPP fails to change its cross-Strait policy, then even if it wins the election, it will not be able to govern the nation. Tsai Ing-wen would be insane to challenge Xi Jinping's political power when the earth might move. Moreover, the KMT's election prospects are grim. That gives the DPP a chance to change. More and more, the public expects Tsai Ing-wen to implement change. If Tsai Ing-wen seizes the opportunity, and realigns public support, she could pave the way for a return to power that transcends blue vs. green political divisions, echoing Wen-Je Ko.

The next question is "When should the DPP change?" On this there are again two camps. Camp One advocates change before the election. Camp Two advocates change after the election. Those who advocate change after the election, argue "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" The campaign is going well, they say, so why introduce a new variable? Those who advocate change before the election, also say the campaign is going well. But they way the DPP should seize the opportunity to realign voter support, broaden the party's power base, and change the party's policy commitments. This would, they argue, change the character of the DPP in one fell swoop, and make DPP campaign promises consistent with DPP policy implementation.

We believe change should take place before the election. If change takes place after the election, it will likely be the result of joint pressure from Beijing and Washington. It will be coerced change. Picture Tsai Ing-wen losing seven or eight diplomatic allies upon taking power. Picture the two cross-Strait organizations ending communications. Picture hundreds of direct flights discontinued. Picture hundreds, even thousands of Taiwan tour buses sitting idle. Why wait for the earth to shake before changing? Taiwan has already taken a huge hit. The damage done to Tsai Ing-wen's political prestige will be hard to repair. Why wait until the situation degenerates to that level before changing? Isn't that a blunder one would regret for the rest of one's life? Unless of course Tsai Ing-wen has already dispatched secret emissaries to Beijing and reached an understanding. No change before the election, but guaranteed change after the election. Put on a good show for Taiwan voters. Is that what has happened? If so, such under the table deals will only discredit the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen. They will enable Beijing to lead the DPP around by the nose That is unacceptable and must be ruled out.

The next question is "How should the DPP change?"  Some advocate single-stage change. They say for example, that the DPP should freeze the "Taiwan independence party platform". Others advocate staged-change. They say the DPP should advocate "maintaining the status quo" and "adhering to the Resolution on Taiwan's Future". But staged change will allow Beijing take a mile when given an inch. For example, if the DPP reverts to the Resolution on Taiwan's Future, Beijing will respond with "opposition to one country one each side". If Tsai Ing-wen advocates "maintaining the status quo", Beijing will again respond with "opposition to one country on each side". In other words, no matter where the DPP seeks refuge, Beijing will respond with d"opposition to one country on each side", in which case the place of refuge will be blown. By contrast, single-stage change, such as freezing the Taiwan independence party platform, would better stabilize DPP-CCP relations. But for the moment that would probably be difficult to achieve within the DPP.

Therefore when it comes to change, the answer is still the 1992 consensus. In fact, between 2005 and 2012, Beijing often approached the 1992 consensus/one China framework differently than and separately from, opposition to Taiwan independence. But the Ma government dragged its feet in 2012. Therefore Beijing began linking the 1992 consensus to the one China framework. Now that support for the DPP has increased, Beijing equates support for the 1992 consensus with opposition to Taiwan independence. It has even added the phrase, "The Mainland and Taiwan are both part of one China." Because the situation has changed, Beijing has narrowed and clarified the meaning of the 1992 consensus. Now all that remains is "The Mainland and Taiwan are both part of one China," What does Beijing mean by "one China"? It has yet to openly define "one China" as the People's Republic of China, but that could be its very next step.

The DPP must revert to the 1992 consensus. If the DPP loses the 1992 consensus, it loses "one China, different interpretations". The ROC will lose the only remaining rhetorical basis for its sovereignty. Therefore the DPP must immediately freeze the Taiwan independence party platform. It cannot rely on the Resolution on Taiwan's Future and backdoor listing to resist pressure from Beijing. It must revert to the 1992 consensus. The DPP can of course continue to deny that anyone ever actually used the term "1992 consensus". But it must consider adopting Hung Chi-chang's approach. As Hung put it, "If the 1992 consensus refers to one China, different interpretations, I can accept it."

After all, Tsai Ing-wen is a Republic of China presidential candidate, running for office under the ROC Constitution. She is not running for office under the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. Without the 1992 consensus as a buffer, the DPP will no longer be able to advocate "one China, different interpretations". It will come under direct pressure to "oppose Taiwan independence". Such pressure is a cocoon that will leave the DPP with even less room to wriggle.












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