Maintaining the Status Quo: No Easy Matter
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 23, 2016
Executive Summary: For the DPP, July 17 is a red letter day. That is when it holds its Party Congress. The Tsai government must cease lying to itself and to the nation. Tsai Ing-wen pledged to "maintain cross-Strait relations under the current ROC constitutional framework”. She must be honest and admit that abiding by the ROC Constitutional framework means recognizing the 1992 Consensus.
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The Tsai government has been in office for only one month. But it has already reneged on its pledge to "maintain the status quo in cross-Strait relations". Before the election, Tsai Ing-wen vowed to "maintain very good relations with the Mainland". She said, "When I say I will maintain the status quo, it means I will maintain the status quo". She said "I said I can do it, and I will".
Alas, the current situation has already departed from the status quo. The two cross-Strait associations' official channels of communication have already been shut down. The status quo there no longer exists. Premier Lin Chuan says he has not ruled out a second channel of communications. But that is impossible. The status quo there no longer exists. Even the SEF chairman candidates have yet to be chosen, providing even more evidence that the status quo no longer exists.
Rumors that Wang Jin-pyng or James Soong may head the SEF have provoked controversy. Meanwhile Wu Chi-chia and Kuo Cheng-liang have issued a proposal. They want the DPP to approve a “New Status Quo Maintenence Party Platform” during next month's Party Congress. They want to appoint someone to the SEF who can stabilize the situation. They want to change the party platform to rescue Taiwan from her current plight. The two men have issued a warning: the new government has already failed to maintain the status quo.
The "Wu Guo Party Platform" states that the Taiwan Independence Party Platform, the Resolution on Taiwan's Future, and the Resolution for a Normal Nation, are antithetical to maintaining the status quo. As long as these three provisions remain, the status quo cannot be maintained. Instead, the party must replace them with a “New Status Quo Maintenence Party Platform”, that "highlights the party's new mission in a new era of cross-Strait and international relations".
Virtually the same DPP officials proposed freezing the Taiwan Independence Party Platform before the election. At the moment they are avoiding any mention of “freezing the Taiwan independence party platform”. Instead they are saying that “advocacy of the Taiwan Independence Party Platform and the two resolutions is superfluous".
Will the party freeze the Taiwan Independence Party Platform and the two resolutions? Or will it simply decide that “advocacy is superfluous”? Either way, everyone in the party agrees that Taiwan independence is already "outdated". Nevertheless, jettisoning either is more difficult than accepting the 1992 Consensus and one China, different interpretations.
If the DPP can no longer advocate Taiwan independence, then why not accept the 1992 Consensus? Because the 1992 Consensus includes “one China, different interpretations”. The party has yet to deal directly with the Taiwan Independence Party Platform. This leaves some room to maneuver.
Will the party freeze the Taiwan Independence Party Platform and the two resolutions? Or will it simply decide that their “advocacy is superfluous”? Either way, all agree that Taiwan independence is at odds with maintaining the status quo. Therefore in the absence of a shared cross-Strait political framework, expecting an SEF appointment to turn the tide and maintain the status quo, is utterly futile.
James Soong may be the DPP's intended SEF appointee. But the PFP insists that "policy is its first priority, personnel appointments are secondary". The PFP has its own priorities. It is also pragmatic. Beijing has said it will not accept the Straits Exchange Foundation recognizing the 1992 Consensus on behalf of the Tsai government. It has said the words must come from Tsai Ing-wen herself.
Therefore, if the Tsai government can accept the 1992 Consensus, it does not need James Soong, Wang Jin-pyng, or anyone else to head the SEF. After all, the two men have their own priorities, and concerns about their public image. As long as the Tsai government changes its policy, the appointment of any qualified person is acceptable. As long as the Tsai government's policy is clear, who it appoints will be secondary, and the appointment process will be simple. Besides, if the Tsai government accepts the 1992 Consensus, it will not be under as much pressure to eliminate the Taiwan independence party platform.
To sum up, the Wu Kuo Party Platform and rumors that James Soong or Wang Jin-pyng will be appointed SEF Chief, confirm one thing. The status quo has already been violated. But as previously mentioned, the Wu Kuo Party Platform actually goes beyond the 1992 Consensus. If the Tsai government has yet to recognize the 1992 consensus, why bother appointing James Soong or Wang Jin-pyng, and provoke an uproar within the DPP?
Now let us return to "maintaining the status quo". The 1992 Consensus is an integral part of the status quo. It is the shared political framework for the status quo. The Tsai government refuses to accept the 1992 Consensus. It also asserts that "If I say I'm going to maintain the status quo, then I'm going to maintain the status quo". This is a clear self-contradiction. The 1992 Consensus is an evolving concept. It is the means by which Taiwan sought to maintain "one China, different interpretations”, "no [immediate] reunification, no Taiwan independence, no use force", and peaceful, mutually beneficial cross-strait economic and trade exchanges. If this framework is shattered, the trade and diplomatic repercussions will do more than destroy the status quo. They will jeopardize Taiwan's survival. Therefore, if the Tsai government cannot maintain the status quo, it may well jeopardize Taiwan's future.
The Wu Kuo Party Platform may be risky, but it makes the hard choices. The SEF appointment political theater on the other hand, fails to see the forest for the trees. If the Tsai government wishes to avoid repeating the cross-Strait policy blunders of the past, it must find some way to recognize the 1992 Consensus.
For the DPP, July 17 is a red letter day. That is when it holds its Party Congress. The Tsai government must cease lying to itself and to the nation. Tsai Ing-wen pledged to "maintain cross-Strait relations under the current ROC constitutional framework”. She must be honest and admit that abiding by the ROC Constitutional framework means recognizing the 1992 Consensus.
2016-06-23 02:45 聯合報 聯合報社論