Tsai Ing-wen's Status Quo is Nothing Like Washington's
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 12, 2015
Executive Summary: Xi Jingping stresses adherence to the 1992 consensus and opposition to
Taiwan independence. Without the 1992 consensus “the two sides'
foundation would no longer be secure and the earth would shake". Tsai
Ing-wen refuses to abandon the Taiwan independence party platform. She
seeks to “maintain the cross-Strait status quo" while repudiating the
1992 consensus. She offers no specific proposals, only slogans. That is a
dangerous thing to do. The ROC needs a president who can stabilize the
situation and ensure the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.
It does not need a troublemaker who trots out fuzzy policies as
camouflage for Taiwan independence.
Full Text Below:
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen is the DPP's 2016 presidential candidate. On the 29th of this month, she will visit the United States in order to submit to an “oral exam”. American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt will soon visit Taiwan. He will meet with high-ranking government and party leaders, including Tsai Ing-wen as well.
The maintenance of stability in the Taiwan Strait is the cornerstone of American strategic interests in East Asia. Who is in authority on Taiwan affects Beijing/Washington relations. It also affects peace and prosperity in East Asia. Washington is concerned that the current election might end communications between Taipei and Beijing. That could result in miscalculations on either side or military conflict. It could even undermine the vital interests of the United States in the Western Pacific. Therefore Washington is deeply concerned about the leading candidates' cross-Strait policy platforms, especially Tsai Ing-wen's. It hopes to accurately gauge her cross-Strait policy path in case she comes to power. The Burghart/Tsai meeting amounts to a “pre-exam” before her “oral exam” in Washington. .
When Tsai Ing-wen won the DPP party nomination, she told reporters she advocated "maintaining the cross-strait status quo". She later told Taiwan independence elements that her maintenance of the cross-Strait status quo “was the same as the US government's." She probably cited the United States position to preempt any backlash from Taiwan independence elements. That may silence Taiwan independence elements. But it does nothing to address the defects in DPP cross-Strait policy.
Tsai Ing-wen must understand that Washington's handling of the Taiwan issue includes five interlocking elements. (A) Adherence to US one-China policy and the "One Law and Three Communiques" frameworkd. (B) Adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act, continued provision of defensive weapons to maintain cross-Strait military equilibrium. (C) Explicit opposition to unilateral changes in the status quo in cross-Strait relations, in word or in deed, no support for Taiwan independence, as well as opposition to CCP military annexation of Taiwan. (D) The United States supports the democratization of Mainland China. It believes that if Mainland society becomes more open and free, this will narrow the gap between the two sides' lifestyles and political systems. The US hopes to promote cross-Strait peace and resolve cross-Strait differences, (E) It is in the United States' strategic interest to maintain peace and stability in the region and to reach a peaceful settlement.
Is Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait status quo actually consistent with Washington's? Or is it nothing more than short term campaign strategy? If it is, then she must clarify her position on "one China", and declare that she does not support Taiwan independence. Alas, Tsai Ing-wen's “maintenance of the status quo” is definitely not Washington's. The key distinction is in the meaning of "one China". The DPP argues that one China does not include Taiwan. The United States argues that one China does include Taiwan. The United States insists that any change in the status quo must be achieved through peaceful means. The US position is actually closer to the KMT's position. The KMT adheres to the 1992 consensus, to the KMT version of the definition of one China, based on the consensus the two sides reached in 1992, with "one China, different interpretations" which the Mainland was willing to accept.
Over the past seven years, the KMT has proved that the steady development of cross-Strait relations has enabled the United States to maintain cooperation with both governments. Therefore, as former American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Richard Bush noted, the US government attaches great importance to the policies set forth by political parties on the Mainland and Taiwan. Maintaining cross-Strait peace and stability is the shared responsibility of the United States, the Mainland, and Taiwan.
The public on Taiwan hopes to continue consultations with the Mainland. This includes Mainland tourists visiting Taiwan, the passage of the MTA, the establishment of cross-Strait representative offices, issues of concern to both sides, participation in regional economic integration, sustainable development of cross-Strait peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, Taiwan will actively seek to membership in multilateral regional economic organizations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Alas, the lack of a political basis for cross-Strait economic cooperation will make Taiwan's participation in regional economic integration mechanisms extremely difficult. Therefore presidential candidates from all political parties must confront the “China Factor” and strike a balance between cross-Strait economic policy and cross-Strait political policy.
Mainland China has undergone rapid economic growth in recent years. This has significantly increased international interaction and led to dramatic changes in people's lifestyles. This has inspired a new generation to pursue new ideas about freedom and democracy. The two sides have opened up channels of communication, politically, economically, and culturally. Communications and interactions continue to increase. , Taiwan's experience with democracy and constitutional rule may exert to some extent, a quiet influence on the Mainland. This may help the United States to understand the Republic of China's experience with democracy and constitutional rule. Its experience did more than ensure democracy and economic prosperity on Taiwan. It has also influenced democracy and constitutional rule on the Mainland. A prosperous Taiwan will facilitate the emergence of a democratic Mainland.
Xi Jingping stresses adherence to the 1992 consensus and opposition to Taiwan independence. Without the 1992 consensus “the two sides' foundation would no longer be secure and the earth would shake". Tsai Ing-wen refuses to abandon the Taiwan independence party platform. She seeks to “maintain the cross-Strait status quo" while repudiating the 1992 consensus. She offers no specific proposals, only slogans. That is a dangerous thing to do. The ROC needs a president who can stabilize the situation and ensure the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. It does not need a troublemaker who trots out fuzzy policies as camouflage for Taiwan independence.