Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Wu Hu Meeting: Sun Yat-sen and the 1992 Consensus

The Wu Hu Meeting: Sun Yat-sen and the 1992 Consensus
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, China)
A Translation
May 29, 2008

On May 22, the United Daily News published an editorial on KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung's upcoming visit to the mainland. We urged him to deliver a message to CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao, saying: "The two sides of the strait cannot avoid earthquakes, but the two sides of the strait can avoid war."

Yesterday, the Wu Hu Meeting took place. Wu Po-hsiung told Hu Jintao, before live television cameras, before viewers watching in realtime on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, "No one can guarantee that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will not experience natural disasters. But through our joint effort, we can ensure that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will never experience war."

Sichuan earthquake relief efforts motivated authorities on both sides of the strait to value the historic opportunity and to redouble their efforts to communicate. As expected, weekend charter flights, mainland tourists to Taiwan, and other "Four Constants" received Hu Jintao's endorsement. This was essentially Hu Jintao's gift to the Ma Ying-jeou administration. Its significance extended beyond specific policies. It established a foundation for stable and amicable cross-strait relations. It significantly reduced internal and external pressure on the new KMT government regarding its cross-strait policy promises.

Wu and Hu repeatedly underscored the importance of the new cross-strait situation and the importance of the new cross-strait opportunities. We hope cross-strait relations will grow following the Wu Hu Meeting, both at the macro level and at the practical level. At the macro level, the two sides need a common political ideal. We suggest a "Sun Yat-sen Framework." At the practical level, the two sides need a better political framework, one that reflects the way they actually interact. We suggest the "1992 Consensus."

First, the Sun Yat-sen Framework. In 2005, during the Lien Hu Meeting, Hu Jintao told Lien Chan, "The Chinese Communist Party... has long been a staunch supporter of Sun Yat-sen, a collaborator with Sun Yat-sen, and an heir to Sun Yat-sen's tradition. During this visit, when Chen Yunlin greeted Wu Po-hsiung at the Nanjing Airport, Wu quoted Sun's proposal for national unity. The staff of the Sun Yat-sen Tomb noted that the 392 stone steps leading up to the tomb symbolized the "Three People's Principles, the nation's territory, and cooperation between the two parties." Wu Po-hsiung did not pass up an opportunity to present his own views. He mentioned Sun Yat-sen's formulation, "Of the People, by the People, and for the People," and with a brush penned the words, "tian xia wei gong, ren min zui da." (the earth is our common heritage, the people above all else."

During the 2005 Lien Hu Meeting, the United Daily News published an editorial noting that cross-strait interaction lacked an overarching framework. Communism could not provide that framework. Afer all, the Communists themselves were engaged in De-Communization. But the two sides respected Sun Yat-sen, therefore a Sun Yat-sen Framework for cross-strait interaction could ensure long term stability.

Regarding the Sun Yat-sen Framework, "The Chinese People" seems to be the buzzword in current discussions of cross-strait relations. Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Poh-hsiung have both stated that "People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese." During yesterday's Wu Hu Meeting, expressions such as "love for one's compatriates," "blood is thicker than water," and "one's own flesh and blood" emerged. The problem is that in addition to "tian xia wei gong" and "the people above all else," a reunified China needs civil rights and economic prosperity. The Taiwan region's second change in ruling parties is considered a significant achievement by many in the mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao regions.

Regarding the "Big Tent" Theory, Beijing's "One China" hard sell seems to have been replaced by a "One People" soft sell. Regarding the Sun Yat-sen Framework, Beijing is stressing Chinese nationalism. Taipei is stressing "national unity, civil rights, and economic prosperity" in equal measures. Wu Po-hsiung's couplet "tian xia wei gong, ren min zui da" summed up his position.

Wu Po-hsiung's couplet has three implications. First, it is an internal memo to the KMT. That is why he said the KMT must "clean house." Second, it is a message to Beijing. If Beijing wishes to stabilize cross-strait relations, it needs to understand that leaders on Taiwan must honor the concept of "tian xia wei gong, ren min zui da." Beijing must understand it is no easy matter to preserve the Republic of China. Third, Wu Poh-hsiung apparently wanted to encourage Beijing, as a friend. Upholding civil rights and achieving economic prosperity are probably goals Beijing aspires to, but feels it is unable to fulfill as yet. This does not negate the reforms and liberalizations Beijing has implemented over the past 30 years. If one day Beijing can ensure civil rights and economic prosperity on mainland China, then the Divided China problem will be solved. The two sides will most assuredly find a solution. The Sun Yat-sen Framework offers an elevated perspective, one that can provide the overarching superstructure for cross-strait interaction.

Let's review the 1992 Consensus. Between the 2005 Lien Hu Meeting, and the current Wu Hu Meeting, the language of the 1992 Consensus has remained the same. But the substance of the 1992 Consensus remains unfulfilled. After 20 years of ups and downs, Beijing realizes that in order to stabilize cross-strait relations, it must secure the Republic of China. Without a secure Republic of China, there can be no stable cross-strait relations. When Taipei stresses the need to face reality, the reality it refers to is the reality of divided rule. When Beijing stresses that it is setting aside disputes, the disputes have merely being set aside. They have not been resolved.

When Hu Jintao took the initiative to invite Wu Poh-hsiung to visit, he did so on the understanding that Wu Po-hsiung was the Chairman of the ruling party of the Republic of China. But he did not officially refer to the Republic of China. When Wu Po-hsiung stood before the tomb of KMT Founder Sun Yat-sen, he reported that the KMT had regained political power. He referred to Nanjing as the seat of the national government. In his eulogy to Sun, he noted the date as "May 27 of the 97th Year of the Republic." But he never uttered the words "Republic of China." Only when he referred to Sun Yat-sen's date of burial, "June 1 of the 18th Year of the Republic," did he finally utter the words "Republic of China." Wu Po-hsiung's frustration can be imagined. The 1992 Consensus merely shelves disputes. It does not confront reality. The two sides must not limit themselves merely to shelving disputes on the basis of the 1992 Consensus. They must also confront reality. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait could use the former East and West German model, or the current South and North Korean model as their framework for interaction. We believe the results would be more salutory than those for East and West Germany, or those for South and North Korea.

A major earthquake in Sichuan has inspired the public on both sides of the strait to interact in an exemplary manner. They became the theme of yesterday's talks in Beijing, Wu and Hu wound up acting as the peoples' spokesmen. Such an atmosphere is beneficial to cross-strait interaction. It puts the people first. The role of leaders is to accurately reflect the thoughts and feelings of the people.

If we look at cross-strait relations purely on the basis of who is bigger or smaller, the question inevitably becomes "Who will gobble up whom?" But if we look at cross-strait relations on the basis of ideas, then it leads to competition in the pursuit of "national unity, civil rights, and economic prosperity." If we look at the Sun Yat-sen Framework and the 1992 Consensus from this perspective, then the two sides are unlikely to squander this historic opportunity.

2008.05.29 03:00 am














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