Only Saying No to Independence Allows One to Say No to Reunification
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 20, 2016
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen has pointed herself into a corner. She says she "honors the Constitution of the Republic of China", which rules out no independence. Yet she refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which means she demands Taiwan independence. If the DPP persists in demanding independence, it cannot expect Beijing to relent. But since it no longer demands Taiwan independence, then why not simply accept the 1992 Consensus, then demand "no reunification, no Taiwan independence, and no use of force”?
Full Text Below:
During the DPP Seventh Party Congress, Party Chairman Tsai Ing-wen addressed the General Assembly, yet failed to utter one word about cross-Strait relations.
The General Assembly assigned the matter of "a new constitution that maintains the status quo", and the question as to “whether the name Republic of China should be abolished", to the Central Executive Committee. Some party members say that assigning the matter of “a new constitution that maintains the status quo" to the Central Executive Committee, is the first step toward a new party platform. They said if it is upheld, then the matter of "whether the name Republic of China be abolished" will be also be left to the Central Executive Committee. That would be the first step toward abolishing the name “Republic of China”.
On the same day, Zhang Zhijun, Director of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, delivered a public message. He discussed the Taiwan issue and the Taiwan Strait issue in blunt terms. He characterized the Tsai regime in three ways. First, it has continued to promote Taiwan independence after returning to power. Second, it refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, and refuses to acknowledge it core meaning, that both sides are part of one China. Third, its policy declarations and actions are weakening the historical ties between Taiwan and the Mainland, politically, economically, and culturally. Fourth, it has interrupted communications and official negotiations, increasing cross-Strait uncertainty and risk.
Zhang Zhijun said "The one China principle is the cross-Strait compass. Depart from this principle, and the Taiwan Strait is endangered, and could be in serious trouble". Zhang Zhijun reiterated that "There is only one China. Taiwan is Chinese territory, and cannot be split off from it". He invoked the first two points of the old “Three Points”. In 2000, Qian Qichen updated the old Three Points to "There is only one China. The Mainland and Taiwan both belong to one China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no divisions". This became known as the "New Three Points". The old “Three Points” disappeared from Mainland officialdom. Yet Zhang Zhijun reverted to the wording of the old Three Points.
Zhang Zhijun's implication was clear. First, the 1992 Consensus differences remain unresolved. Second, unless they are resolved, the situation will deteriorate. Third, he concluded by emphasizing "promoting reunification". In contrast, the DPP Party Congress did not once mention cross-Strait relations even once during its General Assembly. Is this a case of “ostrich head in the sand” behavior? Or is this a case of the DPP simply being at a complete loss about what to say?
Zhang Zhijun reverted to the old Three Points language. But he invoked only the first two points. He did not mention the third point. He did not say "The Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of China."
We hope Zhang Zhijun did this consciously. If he did, that means there is still room for "one China, different interpretations". From Zhang Zhijun's perspective, the 1992 Consensus means "one China". Silence regarding the “different interpretations” part is a concession, a goodwill gesture from Beijing. Without "one China, different interpretations", Beijing cannot force the 1992 Consensus on Taiwan, and Taiwan cannot accept the 1992 Consensus.
The Ma administration pondered the 1992 Consensus for many years. It took "one China, different interpretations", and gradually reframed it as "no reunification, no Taiwan independence, no use of force". Had Ma not specified "no reunifcation”, he could not have said “no independence" to voters on Taiwan. Had he not said “no independence”, he could not have said "no reunification” to the Mainland. Although Beijing has never explicitly affirmed the “different interpretations” clause, but it has implicitly accepted it.
The global scenario has changed. The Mainland is now stronger, and Taiwan is now weaker. in fact, the DPP no longer calls for de jure independence at all. During the Party Congress, Koo Kuan-min told reporters that “Frankly we have no need [for the Taiwan independence party platform]. We are already an independent nation. Why do we need to demand independence?” Actually that is what the DPP has been saying, “We are already independent. Therefore we have no need to declare independence”. This is not that far removed from Ma's “no independence”. The only difference between the two is "Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation" and "The Republic of China is a sovereign and independent nation". In short, “already independent" is equivalent to "no independence". Once the DPP says "no independence", only then can it say "no reunification". Only then can reunification proceed slowly and cautiously.
Tsai Ing-wen vowed she would "maintain cross-Strait relations in accordance with the ROC Constitution and Regulations Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the People of the Mainland China Area”. The ROC Constitution was amended "in response to the needs of the nation prior to reunification". It rules out independence prior to reunification. It also rules out reunification under unreasonable conditions that fail to win peoples' hearts and minds. If Tsai Ing-wen is serious about upholding the ROC Constitution, she can say "no independence” just as easily as she can say “no reunification".
Tsai Ing-wen has pointed herself into a corner. She says she "honors the Constitution of the Republic of China", which rules out no independence. Yet she refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which means she demands Taiwan independence. If the DPP persists in demanding independence, it cannot expect Beijing to relent. But since it no longer demands Taiwan independence, then why not simply accept the 1992 Consensus, then demand "no reunification, no Taiwan independence, and no use of force”?
Zhang Zhijun omitted the third point in the old Three Points. He left precious room in which the two sides can negotiate.
2016-07-20 05:57 聯合報 社論