Can Tsai Ing-wen Replicate The Ko Wen-je Model?
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 20, 2015
Executive Summary: Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je recently visited Shanghai, to attend the Twin
Cities Forum. He has since returned to Taipei without incident. This
deep green politician, who succeeded blue camp Mayor Hau Lung-bin, has
now successfully maintained cross-Strait exchanges between these two
cities. He has introduced an innovation to the status quo, and lived up
to public expectations. From the central to local level, changes in the
ruling party are being normalized. The Ko Wen-je model offers a non-blue
mode for maintaining relations between Taiwan and the Mainland. Ko
Wen-je has blazed a new trail for cross-Strait interaction.
Full Text Below:
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je recently visited Shanghai, to attend the Twin Cities Forum. He has since returned to Taipei without incident. This deep green politician, who succeeded blue camp Mayor Hau Lung-bin, has now successfully maintained cross-Strait exchanges between these two cities. He has introduced an innovation to the status quo, and lived up to public expectations. From the central to local level, changes in the ruling party are being normalized. The Ko Wen-je model offers a non-blue mode for maintaining relations between Taiwan and the Mainland. Ko Wen-je has blazed a new trail for cross-Strait interaction.
The year 2000 was the first time the ruling party of the ROC was replaced. Cross-Strait relations were in turmoil. Recently the deep green Ko Wen-je took office in Taipei City. During the election, many predicted that city to city exchanges between Shanghai and Taipei would be terminated. But this deep green mayor set aside reunification vs. independence battles. He decided to communicate with the other side in a rational manner. He committed himself to the maintenance of benign interactions. After several rounds of negotiation, compromises were reached, and the Twin Cities Forum successfully reconvened. The three day visit to Shanghai by “enfant terrible” Mayor Ko, went off without a hitch. Mainland organizers were deeply relieved. The visit built trust with the Mainland, and will have a positive impact on future relations. It will become a model for positive green camp interaction with the Mainland.
Zhou Zhihuai, Head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Taiwan, analyzed the Ko Wen-je model. He thinks several factors were involved. First, there was the desire to break new ground in cross-Strait relations. Ko Wen-je began with a negative attitude. He questioned the 1992 Consensus. He denounced what he termed Two Countries, One System. As a result the Mainland lambasted him. But his willingness to continue the Twin Cities Forum and break new ground on cross-Strait relations, led to his "New Perspectives for 2015". He said “One China is not a problem”. He emphasized the importance of the existing political framework. He gained the Mainland's understanding. Secondly, the two sides were willing to communicate. They did not give up in the face of difficulties. They were willing to adapt. Zhou Zhihuai affirmed Ko Wen-je's flexibility and pragmatism. Meanwhile Ko said, "The Chinese Communists are not our rivals, but our customers". His attitude toward the Chinese Communist Party was positive. Ke said, "Whether we like it or not, [Mainland] China is a problem that must be faced". Clearly he is highly pragmatic. Ko Wen-je displayed flexibility and pragmatism. He was greeted with flexibility and pragmatism from the Mainland in return.
Third, continued expressions of goodwill. Zhou Zhihuai said Ko Wen-je established a Mainland Affairs Committee. During the first group meeting of the subcommittee on Mainland affairs, Ko avoided mention of the two-states theory, of Taiwan independence, and any criticism of the CCP. Ko spoke to the Mainland media twice. He expressed understanding and respect for the 1992 Consensus. He said relations with the Mainland were not international relations. During the Twin Cities Forum, Ko Wen-je reiterated that “The two sides are one family”. He said “the two sides have a political foundation by which they can promote cross-Strait exchanges, peaceful cross-Strait relations, and the interests of people on both sides". He said, "As long as people on both sides approve, I will continue doing this. As long as this is conducive to cross-Strait peace, I will not retreat". These were all expressions of goodwill.
To sum up, the Ko Wen-je model includes three elements: Intent, the willingness to adapt, and goodwill. Whether local or central, all three elements are indispensable to green camp interaction or dialogue with the other side. If the green camp persists in fearing the Mainland, opposing the Mainland, and hating the Mainland. If it is unwilling to break new ground on cross-Strait relations, then it will not be able to take the Ko Wen-je road. If it is unwilling to adapt, it cannot replicate the Ko Wen-je model. Tsai Ing-wen is a clear example. She has reiterated her desire to maintain the status quo, promote cross-Strait exchanges, and hold constructive dialogue. Yet she refuses to change her position on Taiwan independence. She foolishly imagines that as long as she wins the presidential election, the Mainland will change to accommodate the DPP.
The green camp may wish to communicate and adapt. But if its fails to demonstrate goodwill, the Ko Wen-je model will fail. Ko Wen-je established a Mainland Affairs Committee. He declared that cross-Strait exchanges are not international exchanges. Is Tsai Ing-wen willing to change the name of the DPP's "China Affairs Committee" to the "Mainland Affairs Committee"? Is she willing to declare that cross-Strait relations are not international relations?
Is the Ko Wen-je model is a universal model that can be replicated? That remains to be seen. But the Twin Cities Forum was a success, and is merely the beginning of Mainland interaction with Ko Wen-je. Subsequent interactions will require continued effort and the establishment of long term trust. For Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP county chiefs and city mayors, the Ko Wen-je model's three elements should not be seen as a standard, but as a direction. In the future the Mainland will surelyimpose even stricter requirements.
The Twin Cities Forum entailed people taking the initiative and governments providing support. This principle is important, and should provide the DPP with inspiration. People blazing the way has never been a problem. But cross-Strait exchanges ultimately require government support. This includes visits between relatives, trade, investment, intermarriage, tourism, and academic certification. Which one of them was not an example of people stepping on the gas, while government applied the brakes? The people must bypass government restrictions. When the government finds itself unable to apply the brakes, it is forced to liberalize and move forward. This was the case even during the Ma era. The public rushed forward even as government constraints abounded. For example, on coastal wind power projects the private sector hired Mainland work boats. Green camp Sinophobes went online and demanded government action. But the government refused to stand in the peoples' way.
People taking the initiative and governments providing support is a forward-looking process. The authorites on both sides should provide just this kind of support. Take for example the peace agreement. The authorities find it difficult to negotiate. Cross-Strait civilian forums or seminars can pave the way. The government should not stop them, but encourage and support them. It can wait until the public is no longer afraid to discuss a peace agreement, then take over.
2015年08月20日 04:10 主筆室