China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 3, 2015
Executive Summary: Many suspect that Tsai Ing-wen has not really embraced the ROC. Nevertheless the DPP's actions move it closer to the Republic of China. The DPP must join the public in supporting the ROC. It must refrain from accusing others of "not loving Taiwan ". If the DPP does this, the public will affirm it. The Mainland will also give any DPP course changes due consideration.
Full Text Below:
The outcome of the 2016 election is now virtually certain. KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu does not expect to win. He is merely attempting to preserve KMT strength in the Legislative Yuan to check the power of the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen has not allowed the prospect of victory to go to her head. During the opening ceremony for her campaign headquarters, she conceded that "The DPP is not synonymous with Taiwan, and the KMT is not synonymous with the Republic of China". On a highly symbolic occasion, she issued a statement with far-reaching political implications, provoking considerable debate. Tsai Ing-wen is apparently no longer campaigning against the Kuomintang, but rather sending a signal to Beijing.
Tsai Ing-wen's motive for her novel rhetoric is obvious. She is attempting to shatter the KMT's long-held monopoly on the political symbolism surrounding the “Republic of China”. She wants the chance to spin the meaning of the Republic of China. She conceded that "The Democratic Progressive Party is not synonymous with Taiwan". By doing so, she relinquished the Democratic Progressive Party's long-held monopoly on the political symbolism surrounding “Taiwan”. Tsai Ing-wen's rhetoric has long been random and haphazard. Public perception of Tsai Ing-wen as someone who merely issues hollow rhetoric runs deep. As a result, public skepticism about her Road to Damascus conversion persists. Eric Chu notes that the DPP has not nullified the Taiwan independence party platform, and that Tsai Ing-wen was the author of the "two states theory”. He warned that if DPP gains control of the central government in addition to local governments, and the executive as well as the legislature, it will implement de facto Taiwan independence or an "independent Taiwan". This will result in cross-Strait military conflict. He warned blue camp supporters that the Republic of China may face extinction.
Tsai Ing-wen reacted swiftly to Chu's criticisms. She said Chu's remarks were non sequiturs, and that he was playing the intimidation card.
In fact, Chu's suspicions are well founded. So why did Tsai play this trump card? Was Tsai addressing voters on Taiwan? Or was she addressing Beijing, on the other side of the Strait? Was she attempting to exploit her newfound recognition of the "Republic of China" and the “constitutional framework of the Republic of China”? The Mainland insists that "The two sides of the Strait constitute one China”. DPP refusal to recognize the 1992 consensus could make "the earth move and the mountains shake". Given all this, her motives should be crystal clear.
Tsai Ing-wen has signaled her intentions to Beijing. She seeks face-saving middle ground outside the 1992 consensus. She seeks to avoid DPP vs CCP clash over the 1992 consensus and cross-Strait relations. Tsai Ing-wen's course remains fuzzy. Can she move toward the "constitutional one China" advanced by Frank Hsieh? Tsai Ing-wen's recent rhetoric appears to be paving the way toward the "constitutional one China” that Frank Hsieh advanced in 2000.
Tsai Ing-wen has yet to utter the phrase "constitutional one China". But she has emphasized the "ROC constitutional framework". She has embraced the "Republic of China". She has closed in on the "constitutional one China" concept. Tsai Ing-wen may be taking into consideration the Mainland's position. She may be suggesting a compromise and making a goodwill gesture.
When Tsai Ing-wen visited the US, she pledged to "maintain the status quo" and defend the "ROC constitutional framework". This won Washington's approval. Her next goal is to sweeten the pot and win Beijing's approval.
Suppose Tsai Ing-wen goes further and advocates a "constitutional one China"? Will the Mainland accept a "constitutional one China" or "quasi-constitutional one China" in lieu of the 1992 consensus? That remains to be seen. But the Mainland will undeniably see this development in a positive light.
So far the Mainland response to the elections has been restrained. It has not taken any drastic actions in response to the prospect of a Tsai Ing-wen presidency. On the one hand, the time may not be right. On on the other hand, the Mainland may still be considering the implications of Tsai Ing-wen's signal.
Tsai Ing-wen has not responded recklessly to the Mainland's warning that "the earth will move and the mountains will shake". We urge Tsai Ing-wen to keep an open mind, to fine tune her rhetoric, to narrow any differences and broaden any agreements with the Mainland. Tsai Ing-wen has recently demonstrated restraint regarding Taiwan independence. She has embraced the Republic of China. This should at least prevent the worst possible outcome, a military conflict between the two sides.
But this merely passively maintains cross-Strait relations. At best this prevents relations from descending into the abyss. This pro forma, preliminary course change, will at most maintain the status quo. It will not improve cross-Strait relations.
Tsai Ing-wen has begun a course change. She must now step up the pace. She must now consolidate the change. She must enable both Taiwan and the Mainland to feel the change. Tsai Ing-wen is now embracing the Republic of China. She must prove that she is not merely paying it pro forma lip service. She must demonstrate a deeper understanding of Taiwan's interests and the importance of cross-Strait peace. She must transcend personal ideology and walk the walk. Tsai Ing-wen must behave like a president elect. She must make cross-Strait peace her top priority. She must ensure that the hard-won cross-Strait peace is not lost.
Many suspect that Tsai Ing-wen has not really embraced the ROC. Nevertheless the DPP's actions move it closer to the Republic of China. The DPP must join the public in supporting the ROC. It must refrain from accusing others of "not loving Taiwan ". If the DPP does this, the public will affirm it. The Mainland will also give any DPP course changes due consideration.