United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 16, 2015
Executive Summary: President Ma is visiting three Central American allies. He also returned to his alma mater, Harvard University and delivered a speech. Domestic political attention is focused on the 2016 general election. President Ma's 11th overseas visit has been described as a "quasi-farewell journey". It has not attracted much attention. But it has also left people wondering just how long can the diplomatic truce can last.
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President Ma is visiting three Central American allies. He also returned to his alma mater, Harvard University and delivered a speech. Domestic political attention is focused on the 2016 general election. President Ma's 11th overseas visit has been described as a "quasi-farewell journey". It has not attracted much attention. But it has also left people wondering just how long can the diplomatic truce can last.
One month ago, former Deputy Minister of Defense Lin Chong-pin said that if the DPP wins the presidential election next year, it will probably face "an avalanche of severed diplomatic relations". Later former Vice President Annette Lu also warned that upon taking office, the next president may face "a cataclysm more terrifying than that of the Eight Immortals Dust Explosion". She predicted that a dominoes effect of severed diplomatic relations would ensue. These predictions may strike one as alarmist, but they are anything but groundless.
An "avalanche of severed diplomatic relations" and a "dominoes effect of diplomatic relations" both refer to the new president taking office next year. If cross-Strait relations change, they will affect diplomatic relations, and expand the conflagration everywhere. Contrast the relentless provocations of the Chen era with the stability of the Ma era. Cross-Strait relations and diplomatic relations were confrontational under the former but complementary under the latter. Both form and content, as well as cause and effect, were self-evident. While in Dominica, President Ma told a CNN reporter it matters not which party wins next year. Follow his strategy and cross-Strait relations will not be a problem. Rejct his strategy, and the results will be impossible to predict. Some issues may seem boring. But they are often like ducks paddling across the water. Above the water little seems to be happeningon. But below the water little duck feet are paddling away frantically. Cross-Strait relations and diplomacy are just like this.
For seven years, the Ma government used the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations to improve cross-Strait relations. Meanwhile, a diplomatic truce and flexible diplomacy improved international relations, and facilitated cross-Strait reconciliation and a diplomatic truce. Cross-Strait exchanges and flexible diplomacy proceeded simultaneoulsy. As a result, the two sides signed 21 agreements. Taipei-Washington relations and Taipei-Tokyo relations were the best they have been in decades. The public on Taiwan received visa-free treatment from 142 countries and regions. This was the direct result of a virtuous cycle in cross-Strait and diplomatic relations.
Before President Ma left, he made special reference to warnings repeatedly issued by high-level US State Department officials. Constructive Taipei-Washington relations are closely related to stable cross-Strait relations. For some time Washington-Bejing relations, Washington-Taipei relations, and cross-Strait relations have been changing. Strife in the unequal trilateral relationship has usually enhanced Washington-Beijing relations at the expense of Taipei-Washington relations. This is international realpolitik, and difficult to change. But since President Ma took office, his "peace with China, friendship with Japan, and closeness with the US" policy, and later "peace with the Mainland, friendship with Japan, and valuing of the US" policy, gradually allowed the Washinton-Beijing-Taipei triangular relationship to cease being a zero sum game. It allowed all three relationships to imrove simultaneously.
Stable cross-Strait relations and increased trust have given us a cross-Strait peace dividend that has extended to foreign relations. On the one hand, diplomatic truce and flexible diplomacy are based on stable and peaceful cross-Strait relations. On the other hand, Washington believes that Taipei will not make trouble. It knows that Beijing trusts Taipei to honor the diplomatic truce. Therefore, when cross-Strait relations remain stable, Taipei-Washington relations improve. Washington has also found that stable cross-Strait relations and improved Taipei-Washington relations do not conflict with improved Washington-Beijing relations. Intentionally and unintentionally, they serve as an important bargaining chip that leads to greater regional balance.
From another perspective, Washington has linked cross-Strait relations to Taipei-Washington relations. That means that under certain circumstances, say during the Chen Shui-bian era, Taiwan may suffer the indignity of being "co-managed" by Washington and Beijing. Washington-Beijing co-management of Taiwan is humiliating. But "preventive diplomacy" prevents reckless behavior by Taiwan, and prevents destructive consequences. Tsai Ing-wen visited the United States. She promoted cross-Strait relations "under the ROC constitutional framework". This was why she obtained Washington's approval. Hung Shiu-chu's One China, Same Interpretation is hard to explain. Returning to One China, Different Interpretations and the 1992 Consensus puts Washington at ease.
But cross-Strait relations and relations with our diplomatic allies lack the competitive nature of the Washington-Beijing-Taipei trilateral relationship. Cross-Strait relations and relations with our diplomatic allies are increasingly influenced by the political and economic strength of the Beijing authorities. Naturally diplomatic relations are even more heavily influenced by cross-Strait relations. Annette Lu suspects that "diplomatic truce" will turn into "diplomatic shock". Over the past seven years mutual trust increased under a shared political premise. This led to a virtuous cycle in cross-Strait and diplomatic relations. But obviously any future loss of cross-Strait trust is bound to impact cross-Strait and diplomatic relations. It is bound to lead to a vicious cycle, to defections, poaching, and the inevitable renewal of checkbook diplomacy. The "avalanche of severed diplomatic relations" may well become reality.
The Mainland has risen. Relations with our diplomatic allies are increasingly influenced by cross-Strait relations. President Ma's trip includes transiting the United States. This shows that the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations has sustained cross-Strait relations and facilitated diplomatic relations. Faced with a crisis in diplomatic relations, Hung Shiu-chu knows she must eliminate the danger by adhering to the 1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interrpetations. Tsai Ing-wen, sad to say, remains as "content free" as ever. She merely parrots the mantra, "the ruling and opposition parties must agree to work together". Will that really work?
國內政治焦點已轉向二○一六，馬總統的第十一次出訪被形容為「 準畢旅」，或許已經吸引不了太多關注。然而， 此行卻也留下一個更大的懸念：這種外交陣線無戰事的太平景象， 究竟還能維持多久？
如果明年民進黨贏得大選，執政後可能將面對「雪崩式斷交」； 其後，前副總統呂秀蓮也警告，下屆總統上任後，台灣可能會面臨「 比八仙塵爆萬倍可怕」的「骨牌性斷交」危機。 這些說法看似危言聳聽，卻非空穴來風。
若兩岸關係生變，必波及我外交關係，而致烽火遍野。 對比扁政府時期的躁動和馬政府任內的穩健， 兩岸關係與外交關係相剋相侮或相生相成，表裡因果不言而喻。 馬總統在多明尼加接受ＣＮＮ記者訪問時提到， 明年不論哪一個黨候選人當選，只要遵循他的策略， 兩岸關係不會有問題；但如果不這麼做，結果就很難說。的確， 有些事情看似無趣，卻是必須鴨子划水慢慢琢磨， 兩岸與外交的布局即是如此。
外交休兵、活路外交」推展國際關係，兩岸和解與外交休兵同步， 兩岸交流與活路外交並進。因此， 在兩岸陸續簽訂二十一個協議的同時，台美、 台日關係也進入數十年來最佳狀態， 台灣民眾還享有一百四十二個國家與地區的免簽待遇。 這不能不歸功於兩岸關係與外交關係所產生的良性循環。
台美關係的建設性結果，與兩岸關係的穩健發展有很大的關係。 長期以來，美中、 美台與兩岸關係已日益發展成一種不等邊的三角關係， 而三組關係相互傾軋的結果， 美中關係的提升通常是以犧牲台美關係為代價。 此一國際政治的現實，迄難改變。但馬總統上任後， 不論是第一任提出的「和中、友日、親美」，或第二任強調的「 和陸、友日、重美」，七年來逐步讓美中台三角關係打破零和賽局， 三組雙邊關係出現同步提升。
溢出到對外關係領域。一方面，外交休兵與活路外交， 都建立在兩岸關係穩定和平發展的基礎上；另一方面， 華府相信台灣不會製造麻煩，更知道北京信任台北的外交休兵， 因此，在兩岸關係穩定發展的同時，台美關係也得以大幅提升。 美國更發現，兩岸關係穩定與台美關係改善， 非但不影響美中關係的進一步開拓， 更能在有意無意間作為平衡區域情勢的重要籌碼。
也意味著在某種情況下，台灣可能遭遇如扁政府後期難堪的「 美中共管」窘境。「美中共管」儘管難堪，但在「預防外交」下， 台灣不易暴衝，也就不致演為毀滅式決絕的地步。蔡英文訪美， 能以「中華民國憲政體制下推動兩岸關係」之說，贏得美國稱許， 道理在此；而洪秀柱從不易解釋的「一中同表」回歸「九二共識、 一中各表」，美國自然放心。
不僅缺乏美中台般的三角競合關係， 中共挾其政經實力也早已深入我國友邦， 因此我外交關係受兩岸關係的影響當然更深更廣。呂秀蓮質疑「 外交休兵」變成「外交休克」，事實上， 七年來兩岸在共同政治基礎上累積互信， 從而創造了兩岸關係與外交關係的良性循環，卻是顯見的事實。 而如果未來兩岸互信基礎流失， 兩岸關係與外交關係勢必陷入惡性循環，倒戈、挖牆腳、 金錢外交的惡鬥必然再起，則「雪崩式斷交」未始不會成為現實。
馬總統此行，包括過境美國，說明「九二共識、一中各表」， 撐起了兩岸關係，從而也撐開了外交關係。面對斷交危機， 現已知洪秀柱至少有「九二共識、一中各表」解危；蔡英文卻「 空心」如故，直呼「朝野一致共同努力」。這樣，就能奏效嗎？