Tsai Ing-wen's Transformation: Real or Fake?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 23, 2015
Executive Summary: A political transformation may take place on Taiwan in 2016. The DPP may
adopt an entirely new stance on cross-Strait policy and national
identity. Unless it does so, the public on Taiwan will pay a high price,
one assuredly not worth any returns. It will also add up to a disaster
for the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen.
Full Text Below:
A political transformation may take place on Taiwan in 2016. The DPP may adopt an entirely new stance on cross-Strait policy and national identity. Unless it does so, the public on Taiwan will pay a high price, one assuredly not worth any returns. It will also add up to a disaster for the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen.
We have repeatedly warned that in the face of certain changes, the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen must choose between being "traitors to Taiwan independence" and "sinners against Taiwan". If they fail to choose, if they refuse to change their stance on national identity and cross-Strait policy, whether Tsai Ing-wen wins in 2016 will not matter. The result will be a disaster for the DPP as a party, and for Tsai Ing-wen as an individual.
First assume that they win. Beijing says that if Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the 1992 consensus, and refuses to oppose Taiwan independence, then "the earth will tremble and progress will be impossible". It has made clear that if Tsai Ing-wen refuses to accept the 1992 consensus, the channels established between the Taiwan Affairs Office and the MAC will be shut down. Are the changes made by Tsai Ing-wen mere show? Is her current transformation mere pretense? If so, an election victory will merely lead to political and economic chaos. Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP may win an election, but bring disaster down upon Taiwan.
Now assume that they lose. Tsai Ing-wen has clearly begun a transformation. She now speaks of "maintaining the cross-Strait status quo", of "promoting cross-Strait relations under the constitutional framework of the Republic of China", of "seeking common ground and shelving differences under the 1992 consensus". These positions all indicate transformation. These positions flatly contradict Taiwan independence rhetoric. Moreover, Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric has received the tacit endorsement of Taiwan independence elements. Taiwan independence elements know that enabling Tsai Ing-wen to win the election means they must bite their tongues.
So has Tsai Ing-wen undergone genuine transformation? Or are she and Taiwan independence elements merely putting on a show? The green camp has yet to reach a consensus. Do Taiwan independence elements see Tsai Ing-wen's current moves as mere campaign trickery? Is that why they are silent? If Tsai Ing-wen is victorious, that will be one thing. But what if she is defeated? She will have rejected Taiwan independence for naught. In that case, will she ever escape Taiwan independence movement condemnation? Would this not amount to a disaster for both the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen?
Therefore, under the circumstances, Tsai Ing-wen has no choice but to undergo genuine transformation. She cannot afford to pretend. First, she must use genuine transformation to build trust with Beijing. Second, she must extract a commitment from Taiwan independence elements to do the same. She may even need to draft a new "party resolution", in black and white, regardless of whether she wins or loses, or whether Taiwan independence elements turn on her. Third, she must be honest with both blue and green camp voters. Blue camp voters must believe her, and green camp voters must emulate her.
Tsai Ing-wen cannot make an end run around the Republic of China. DPP members used to turn their back to the Republic of China. They used the ROC to backdoor listing their would-be "Republic of Taiwan". They must now turn to face the Republic of China. When Chen Shui-bian was in power, he flip-flooped between his "five noes" and "one country on each side", again and again. But the world has changed, Tsai Ing-wen's only choice is genuine transformation. She cannot lie to Taiwan independence elements. She cannot lie to blue and green camp voters. She cannot lie to Washington. She cannot lie to Beijing. She cannot lie to the Republic of China. She cannot lie to the ROC Constitution.
Tsai Ing-wen knows that Taiwan independence is a blind alley. That is why she has affirmed the ROC Constitution. That is the right course of action. Affirming the ROC Constitution means affirming a "constitutional one China", "one country, two regions", and "one country, different interpretations". That is why Tsai Ing-wen must also accept the 1992 consensus, and "one China, different interpretations". One China, different interpretations is the essence of the 1992 consensus. It is the most strategically valuable aspect of the ROC Constitution. Affirming the 1992 consensus involves risk. But unless Tsai Ing-wen assumes this risk, Taiwan independence elements will run amok, and she will forfeit "one China, different interpretations", the last line of defense. That would leave Taiwan in no man's land. Therefore Tsai Ing-wen must understand and accept the 1992 consensus, under the framework of the ROC Constitution. She must accept "one China, different interpretations". Only that constitutes genuine transformation.
Tsai Ing-wen has gone from rejecting the 1992 consensus to affirming the Republic of China Constitution. She has gone from total darkness to partial light. But either way she cannot escape. Affirming the constitution, a "constitutional one China", "one country, two regions", and "one China, different interpretations" all remain within the scope of the law and the constitution. Tsai Ing-wen must eventually return to a "constitutional one China" and "one China, different interpretations". Otherwise, she has not undergone genuine transformation.
Taiwan independence elements say Taiwan independence can support Taiwan's democracy, sovereignty, and confront the People's Republic of China. But Tsai Ing-wen must use the Republic of China to support Taiwan's democracy, the sovereignty of the ROC, and engage in coopetition with the PRC.
The arrow has left the bow. Tsai Ing-wen has changed. There is no turning back. Genuine transformation is the only way out. The consequences of fake transformation would be disastrous.