China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 10, 2016
Executive Summary: On September 4 the KMT Party Convention approved a new policy platform. Two planks in this platform drew the most attention. The first was the “Peace Agreement”, one which would "actively seek a peace agreement ending the state of hostilities". The second was the "one China, different interpretations” phrase. The new policy platform refers to the 1992 Consensus only in general, when it mentions “one China, different interpretations”. When detailing cross-Strait policy, it read "consolidate the 1992 Consensus on the basis of the Constitution of the Republic of China", and omitted “one China, different interpretations”. Observers have described this as “the disappearance of different interpretations".
Full Text Below:
On September 4 the KMT Party Convention approved a new policy platform. Two planks in this platform drew the most attention. The first was the “Peace Agreement”, one which would "actively seek a peace agreement ending the state of hostilities". The second was the "one China, different interpretations” phrase. The new policy platform refers to the 1992 Consensus only in general, when it mentions “one China, different interpretations”. When detailing cross-Strait policy, it read "consolidate the 1992 Consensus on the basis of the Constitution of the Republic of China", and omitted “one China, different interpretations”. Observers have described this as “the disappearance of different interpretations".
Some objected to incorporating the Peace Agreement into the party platform. But in general it provoked little controversy. In fact then Chairman Ma Ying-jeou indirectly incorporated the Peace Agreement into the party platform in 2005, when he advocated implementation of the Five Goals of the Lien Hu summit. One of the Five Goals was a “peace agreement to terminate hostilities". Omitting "one China, different interpretations" from the party platform touched off a major controversy. Former Vice President Wu Den-yih defended the 1992 Consensus" and "one China, different interpretations", saying the two must remain linked, Other key players within the party also voiced reservations. The media characterized it as a battle over the KMT's political path. Many more interpreted it as a prelude to the 2017 chairmanship elections, and the beginning of a power struggle.
In 2014, the Kuomintang found itself mired in a new struggles over the “China Path” vs. the “Taiwan Path”. Beginning last September 4, the KMT made a major about face. It paid a huge price for this. It became the opposition party, only to wind up back where it began. On the same day last year, KMT presidential candidate Hung Shiu-chu spoke of "one China, same interpretation". This precipitated clashes within the party. Rumors flew about replacing Hung. Under pressure, she announced a three day moratorium. September 4 was the second day of the moratorium. At the eye of the storm was "one China, same interpretation". Many party members insisted on sticking with "one China, different interpretations". One year later, the KMT remains mired in the same controversy, unable to extricate itself. Pundits have since ridiculed the KMT, saying how the "September 3 Grand Protest March", was followed by the "September 4 Petty Intraparty Squabble".
The KMT is the second largest political party on Taiwan. A comeback is not out of the question. But for the moment the DPP's paint is chipping. Its ratings are in the cellar. Protests are spreading like wildfire. Public anger is boiling over. The Kuomintang has scored victory after victory in local elections. A protest march by military personnel, civil servants, and public school teachers has brought core supporters back into the fold.
Despite a series of positive signs suggesting that the KMT may be able to make a comeback, skeptics remain. DPP support has fallen. But trust in and approval of the KMT has not increased significantly.
One year ago, the Kuomintang's core convictions were unclear. Its core values were uncertain. Its organizational structure was outdated. Its creativity and will to reform were nowhere to be seen. Its rhetoric was incoherent. It appeal for young people was non-existent. None of these "old problems" have been addressed since the election debacle earlier this year. Nothing new or inspiring has emerged. No revolutionary changes have been made. To outside observers, the party remains a plate of loose sand. Party leaders guard their personal fiefdoms jealously. Each goes his own way. Strife continues without end.
Are KMT leaders truly "amateurs at fighting outsiders, but experts at fighting each other”? Is the KMT truly destined for the scrap heap of history? Not necessarily. Last September 4, on the second day of Hung Shiu-chu's moratorium, this newspaper urged the KMT to convene a major debate on policy path in order to prevent the party's disintegration. Unfortunately it did not listen. Now it has another opportunity. KMT leaders must throw open the windows and speak the truth. Only by laying their cards out on the table, can KMT leaders make clear the choices they have made. Only then is true unity possible.
Hung Shiu-chu and Wu Den-yih disagree about whether to omit “different interpretations” from the party platform. The two are also seeking the party chairmanship. So why not hold a great debate over the party path? A meaningful and intense debate could lead to consensus and greater Kuomintang solidarity.
Since Hung Shiu-chu took over as party chairman, she has repeatedly expressed her willingness to hold a no preconditions internal party debate. But thunder has not been followed by rain. In the coming year Hung and Wu should hold a "civilized debate". This would honor their commitments. It would put their respective policy paths to the test. It would enable the KMT to reconsider its values, firm up its foundation, clarify factional differences, and promote party unity.
People have heard Wu Den-yih's objections to deleting “different interpretations” from the party platform. But they have yet to hear his views on incorporating the Peace Agreement into the platform. views, They do not understand why he insists on retaining "different interpretations". Wu Den-yih must explain. This is an opportunity to let people understand his overarching political perspective. If Hung and Wu can agree on the Peace Agreement during the debate, they can help the KMT promote cross-Strait peace. Voters will no longer remain in suspense. Any attempts by political opponents to divide the party by spreading rumors will be preempted.
For the KMT, a timely debate would clean up its image. A Hung vs. Wu debate would attract wide public attention. It would refocus attention on the KMT's policy proposals. For Taiwan, a KMT debate over policy path could focus attention on Taiwan's path once Tsai Ing-wen steps down. The chance to consider a totally different path is something Taiwan desperately needs at this time.