KMT-CCP Dialogue May Marginalize the DPP
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 10, 2016
Executive Summary: The "Cross-Strait Peaceful Development Forum" and the "Hung Xi Summit" will focus on the substance of cross-Strait interaction. The results will be laid out for all to see. Does the green camp intend to do nothing except flap its gums, convene press conferences and hurl epithets, and insult summit participants, in order to win points with the Taiwan public? Does it have anything of value to contribute in terms of ideas and practices? If it does not, it will merely marginalize itself in future cross-Strait interactions.
Full Text Below:
The KMT-CCP Forum will convene in Beijing early next month. KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping will also take part in a “Hung-Xi Summit”. Following the change in ruling parties, the DPP government refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus. Cross-Strait relations officially ended. Amidst the uncertainty, the KMT and the CCP fell back on channels established in 2005 by former KMT Chairman Lien Chan and former CCP Chairman Hu Jintao. They established a regular platform for party-to-party communications. They preserved the KMT-CCP Forum and high-level two-party talks. Their decision has a whole range of implications for cross-Strait relations.
After the Kuomintang lost power completely, regular communication channels between the KMT and CCP remained intact. This fact has great significance for the KMT. Following the election earlier this year, the Mainland considered the possibility of working with the DPP. It is now certain however, that Beijing will not be looking to the DPP, but will continue cooperating with the KMT. As far as the DPP government is concerned, the Mainland may not have made a complete break with the DPP. But contacts and dialogue that have already been disrupted will not be resumed. Is Tsai Ing-wen government sincere about "maintaining the status quo"? If it is, it must present its position on cross-Strait relations and reach an agreement with the Mainland. This is extremely difficult for both the DPP and Tsai Ying-wen.
For Beijing, the cross-Strait achievements of the past eight years were based on the 1992 Consensus, something agreed to by both sides. On the basis of the 1992 Consensus, Tsai Ing-wen expressed goodwill and sincerity in cross-Strait relations. But the real objectives of her government soon became clear. It was obvious the new government would never accept the 1992 Consensus. It would never clarify the nature of cross-Strait relations. Instead, it would cling to the US and distance itself from the Mainland. Its educational and cultural policies would stress on “de-Sinicization”. The status quo has already been changed. "Maintaining the status quo" is nothing more than a slogan. The Mainland has decided. The mutual trust that ensured peace in the Taiwan Strait since 2008 no longer exists.
As we have seen, over the past few months communications between the two cross-Strait entities have been interrupted. The number of Mainland tourists arriving on Taiwan has been halved. The number of Mainland students has been slashed. Taiwan has been shut out of the ICAO Conference. Cross-Strait communications and 5G cooperation meetings have changed. Will James Soong be permitted to attend the annual APEC conference? If he is, will he be permitted to interact with the Mainland? Beijing is making overtures to our diplomatic allies. Will they stay or leave? That remains to be seen. Even the "Republic of China" rhetoric trotted out by Tsai Ing-wen may be seen as a form of the "two states theory". If so, then mutual trust between the two sides has evaporated, and relations will revert to what they were during the Chen era. President Tsai's insistence that she is "not taking the old road" may not lead to zero sum game confrontation. But official and even quasi-official contacts remain frozen.
The promotion of the "Cross-Strait Peaceful Development Forum" shows that Beijing does not want cross-Strait interaction interrupted altogether. After all, cross-Strait political cooperation already enabled dialogue between Ma and Xi. Ending all interaction would be a pity. Maintaining a platform for KMT-CCP dialogue enables private sector cross-Strait contacts to remain warm. This is necessary. The KMT has become an opposition party. But as Taiwan's largest opposition force, it remains highly representative and influential. Hung Hsiu-chu and Xi Jinping will meet. In the short-term, this may not have much impact on cross-Strait relations. But it will encourage cohesion and unity. As long as KMT-CCP dialogue on peaceful relations between the two sides persists, the formalization of peaceful relations remains possible, and will win points for the KMT among the Taiwan public. After all, Taiwan's election system always offers the chance for a comeback the next time around.
The green camp will not be happy with this development. Its reaction will surprise no one. Belittlement, sarcasm, and McCarthyite political smears. The script will probably be little changed from eight years ago. Huang Kuo-chang of the New Power Party has lept forward and shouted, "The Kuomintang is colluding with the Communist Party to form a united front against Taiwan" and "The Kuomintang has learned nothing from its past failures". But these same accusations were leveled against the KMT eight years ago, during the Chen era. Today's attacks by the New Power Party pale next in comparison. Those attacks in 2008 failed to prevent a second change in ruling parties. Consider the matter quietly and calmly. Peaceful and stable exchanges between the two sides over the past eight years enabled direct flights, tourism, trade, cultural exchanges, participation in international activities, and even diplomacy. This was all made possible through step by step efforts. Now this may all come tumbling down. The ruling DPP likes to imagine that its New Southern Strategy will prop up the nation. Can it really? Do voters really not understand the consequences?
The "Cross-Strait Peaceful Development Forum" and the "Hung Xi Summit" will focus on the substance of cross-Strait interaction. The results will be laid out for all to see. Does the green camp intend to do nothing except flap its gums, convene press conferences and hurl epithets, and insult summit participants, in order to win points with the Taiwan public? Does it have anything of value to contribute in terms of ideas and practices? If it does not, it will merely marginalize itself in future cross-Strait interactions.