China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 30, 2016
Executive Summary: On August 4, 2000, when she was chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Tsai Ing-wen said, Taiwan cannot escape the one China issue. From a cultural and geographical perspective, a "future one China" is the only possible choice for the people of Taiwan. In 2016, the question for President Tsai Ing-wen should not be whether to repudiate "one China". It should be what kind of relationship should the two sides have. Should it be a master-slave relationship, or an undivided, share and share alike relationship? Should the two sides jurisdiction be independent of each other? Should it be a central government vs. local government relationship? Should it be constitutionally divided rule?
Full Text Below:
The two sides of the Strait are still wrestling over the 1992 Consensus. American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt recently joined the fray. He told the VOA that when Koo Chen-fu and Wang Daohan met, they never used the term 1992 Consensus in his presence, but that Koo sometimes used the term "1992 understanding". MAC Chairwoman Katharine Chang immediately latched onto Uncle Sammy's comment, and argued that the 1992 Consensus was merely an agreement to “seek common ground, while shelving differences”. She conveniently forgot the part about “one China, different interpretations”. Taiwan independence elder Lin Cho-shui published an article claiming that the United States has abandoned “joint management of the Taiwan Strait”. The Liberty Times published an article entitled “Taps for the 1992 Consensus". It would appear that the DPP government has the United States' backing, and no longer intends to deal with the dispute over the 1992 Consensus.
We have repeatedly made clear that the 1992 Consensus is an artificial term. It was coined by Su Chi as a good will gesture, to extricate the incoming Chen Shui-bian government from a tight spot. He used the neutral sounding term “1992 Consensus” in order to avoid reference to the "one China principle". But the DPP failed to appreciate it. The DPP did not object to the term itself. It objected to what it meant. The term is merely one of convenience. For example, from a distance we see a mountain. But as we come closer, we see towering trees, rocks, streams, plants, and animals. Mountain is merely a term for everything associated with the mountain. Chuang Tzu once related a story about a group of monkeys. The monkeys would be happy when they received four berries in the morning and three at night, but angry if they received three berries in the morning and four at night. The monkeys' minds were fixated on appearances and could not recognize substance.
1992 Consensus includes two areas of agreement, and one area of disagreement. The two sides agreed to "adhere to the one China principle," and to "seek national reunification". The two sides disagreed about the meaning of "one China". In other words, the two sides disagreed about the nature of cross-Strait relations. Beijing saw the 1992 Consensus as an administrative matter. Therefore it adopted a "one China, no interpretations” stance. Taipei argued that the two sides should adopt a "one China, different interpretations" stance, and argued that "one China" means the Republic of China.
Had Koo characterized the meeting as a "1992 Understanding" with “common ground as well as differences”, he would not have been wrong. In 1992, both sides recognized the "one China principle". Koo knew this. Taipei wanted to emphasize "one China, different interpretations". Beijing wanted to emphasize "opposition to Taiwan independence". This was merely a case of “four berries in the morning, and berries at night” vs. “three berries in the morning, and four at night”. Upholding one China is synonymous with “opposing Taiwan independence". The key point was that neither side advocated separatism. Taken a step further, opposition to separatism is merely another name for opposition to war. Put even more simply, it is merely the advocacy of peace. In short, the essence of the 1992 Consensus is the desire for peace.
Taipei equated the 1992 Consensus with "one China, different interpretations". But Lee Teng-hui's "special state to state relations" formulation in 1999, had Beijing worried that "one China, different interpretations" would be interpreted as "one country on each side". As a result, Beijing rejected it. Ma Ying-jeou also advocated "one China, different interpretations". But for him the two sides were not two nations. Therefore Beijing voiced no opposition. But when the same label refers to different things, it acquires a different meaning.
The Tsai Ing-wen government cannot use the term, 1992 Consensus. But Tsai must swear that she will "uphold the one China principle" by some other means. She may wish to swear that she “will not to divide China as a whole". Tsai Ing-wen must find a way to express her cross-Strait policy that Beijing can accept, and that will enable the two sides to enjoy peace.
Since 1949, the two sides have not engaged in a shooting war. They have conducted frequent exchanges. But legally speaking, the two sides are still in a state of civil war. The 1992 "consensus, understanding, facts, talks, spirit, acknowledgement" has already dealt with one problem. But it has not dealt with another problem, namely that the civil war must not lead to permanent division. Just what is the relationship between the two sides? The 1992 Consensus did not say. As a result, the two sides continue to talk past each other.
If the Tsai government insists that cross-Strait relations are foreign relations, and that the two sides do not belong to the same nation, then it is not a case of “four in the morning and three at night” vs. “three in the morning and four at night”. It is tantamount to “walking into the sea”. It is calling the mountain before us by another name. Names are sometimes meaningful. The sequence of events is sometimes important. But when the meaning changes, then labels are either self-deception or deception of others.
On August 4, 2000, when she was chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Tsai Ing-wen said, Taiwan cannot escape the one China issue. From a cultural and geographical perspective, a "future one China" is the only possible choice for the people of Taiwan. In 2016, the question for President Tsai Ing-wen should not be whether to repudiate "one China". It should be what kind of relationship should the two sides have. Should it be a master-slave relationship, or an undivided, share and share alike relationship? Should the two sides jurisdiction be independent of each other? Should it be a central government vs. local government relationship? Should it be constitutionally divided rule?