United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 24, 2016
Executive Summary: Taiwan has definitely been shut out of the ICAO conference. It cannot attend the conference as a “special guest” as it did three years ago. This amounts to a major diplomatic defeat for the Tsai government. Mainland officials have also issued an unprecedented statement, making clear this was the handiwork of the Tsai government. President Tsai must now remain calm and not overreact. After all, this was the expected reaction of the Mainland to the DPP government's rejection of the 1992 Consensus. The DPP government must now reestablish trust with the Mainland. It must reach a new consensus as the basis for consultations, in order to avoid further harm to Taiwan.
Full Text Below:
Taiwan has definitely been shut out of the ICAO conference. It cannot attend the conference as a “special guest” as it did three years ago. This amounts to a major diplomatic defeat for the Tsai government. Mainland officials have also issued an unprecedented statement, making clear this was the handiwork of the Tsai government. President Tsai must now remain calm and not overreact. After all, this was the expected reaction of the Mainland to the DPP government's rejection of the 1992 Consensus. The DPP government must now reestablish trust with the Mainland. It must reach a new consensus as the basis for consultations, in order to avoid further harm to Taiwan.
The Ma government was able to achieve a series of major breakthroughs and take part in international activities precisely because it recognized the 1992 Consensus. The Ma government affirmed the 1992 Consensus as the political foundation for cross-Strait relations. It affirmed that cross-Strait relations were not state to state relations. That established trust between the Mainland and Taiwan, and enabled Taiwan to take part in international activities through a series of pragmatic arrangements. But the situation has changed. The Tsai government has stubbornly refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus. Therefore the Mainland's pragmatic arrangements are now null and void. Being shut out of the ICAO conference was 100% predictable.
Ever since President Tsai took office, she has misjudged the situation on both cross-Strait and national security matters. She had too much faith in purported help from the United States, and too little appreciation for the Mainland's adherence to fundamental principles. The Mainland made abundantly clear that Taiwan's participation in international activities was predicated upon recognition of the 1992 Consensus. Yet the Tsai government ignored its warnings. It assumed that repeated US expressions of support, along with behind the scenes negotiations, would ensure Taiwan's eventual attendance. But in the end it was forced to admit it was shut out completely.
The fiasco was a major warning for the Tsai government. It confirmed Mainland leader Xi Jinping's declaration that "without a solid foundation, the earth will move and the mountains will shake". That was not an offhand remark. That summed up the Mainland's fundamental posture. The Mainland's basic position is crystal clear. As long as the DPP government recognizes the 1992 Consensus, all issues are negotiable. During the Ma era, the Mainland honored that commitment. Critics have demeaned Taiwan's participation in international activities under those conditions as merely temporary measures, rife with uncertainty. But the international reality is that the vast majority of nations and international organizations recognize the one China principle. For organizations that require the status of a sovereign state, even the United States only supports Taiwan's participation, not its membership. Also, the ICAO immediately issued a statement explaining that it adheres to the one-China principle, and that Taiwan's past participation was exclusively the result of invitation by the Mainland. Taiwan may participate in the activities of international organizations only with the blessing of the Mainland. There is no other way.
Therefore the first priority for cross-Strait relations at this stage is to reaffirm the nature of cross-Strait relations. If the Tsai government cannot bring itself to reaffirm the one China premise or the 1992 Consensus, then Taiwan will be less and less able to participate in international activities. The cross-Strait diplomatic war could then resume at any time. This obviously is not a blessing for people on either side, and definitely not a blessing for Taiwan.
The most worrisome aspect of this is the Tsai government's continuing refusal to face international reality. It even cites public sentiment as an excuse, claiming that the people of Taiwan "chose democracy and have been subject to unfair treatment". In fact most people on Taiwan want to maintain the status quo. They want the government to negotiate with the Mainland, to maintain Taiwan's status as a political entity, and to ensure economic growth and international participation. The Tsai government's refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus has set back cross-Strait relations. If the Tsai government truly values public opinion, it will listen carefully to what people have to say about cross-Strait relations. It will acknowledge the Mainland's core concerns. It will as soon as possible, adopt a pragmatic attitude regarding the political foundation for cross-Strait exchanges, and arrive at a new consensus.
The Mainland refuses to allow the Tsai government to participate in international activities. We must acknowledge that fact. At the same time, we must not allow this to become a sticking point for the two sides. We hope the Mainland will allow Taiwan greater participation in international activities, particularly on matters of public welfare such as the ICAO and the WHA. Pragmatism on the part of the Mainland will avoid damage to the interests of the public on Taiwan.
The Mainland has noted that Taiwan retains access to international civil aviation data. But if Taiwan cannot participate in ICAO activities, it can only access the relevant information through third nations or business pipeline. The process is arduous, and the information is incomplete. The Mainland must let people understand in a clear and unambiguous manner that aviation safety will not be affected. It must actively provide the relevant data, or allow the relevant organizations and nations and Taiwan to expand technical cooperation. Only then can the public on Taiwan experience the Mainland's sincerity and goodwill. Only then can it prevent cross-Strait political disputes from affecting the public interest.
2016/9/24 下午 08:14:45 主筆室