One China, Different Interpretations, Revisited
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 4, 2010
Cross-Strait negotiations must undergo a rational process. This will allow the two sides to arrive at clearer objectives. This is what makes so-called "process orientation" different from past "goal orientation."
From a goal oriented perspective, four outcomes are possible. 1. Taiwan independence. 2. Maintenance of the status quo. 3. A Roof Theory political affiliation, such as a confederation or the European Union model. 4. Reunification. These four goals all require a process, namely, "One China, Different Interpretations."
Take independence. The Taiwan independence movement is a parasite in need of a host. Without a One China Constitution to hide behind, the Taiwan independence movement would be a parasite without a host. The Taiwan independence movement, including Chen Shui-bian's eight year long Taiwan independence regime, were parasites inside the Republic of China. They were afraid to jettison the Republic of China, the talisman they knew was sheltering them. Furthermore, given macro level developments globally, on the Chinese Mainland, and on Taiwan, Taiwan independence cannot possibly become the common goal for Taipei and Beijing. The Taiwan independence movement can do nothing, other than reside parasitically within the Republic of China, provoking internal strife.
Now take the other three possible goal oriented outcomes. Maintaining the status quo may be process oriented. The Roof Theory and reunification may be goal oriented. But they still require some sort of process. These processes should be consistent with peace and democracy, and acceptable to the international community. They must establish a civilized example consistent with mankind's expectations. The process will be time-consuming. Without "One China, Different Interpretations," such a process would be difficult to sustain.
Maintaining the status quo means maintaining both the Republic of China and the Peoples Republic of China. It means maintaining the status quo stipulated in the One China Constitution. The existence of the status quo is actually quite straightforward. The real dispute is over Different Interpretations. The two sides have yet to establish a protocol for expressing what they mean by Different Interpretations. Therefore whether the "Republic of China" is "part of China" has yet to be settled. Therefore whether "Taiwanese" are "Chinese" has yet to be settled. If these two major political identity issues cannot be settled, even maintaining the cross-Strait status quo will be difficult. The goal oriented Roof Theory and reunification will be more difficult still.
As mentioned earlier, any goal oriented program must be peaceful and democratic. Before embarking on any goal oriented program, the public on Taiwan must establish what they mean by "China" and "Chinese." Otherwise, how can they work toward any goal oriented objective? Can the vast majority of the public on Taiwan make the leap from the "Republic of China" to the Roof Theory, or a Third Concept of China? Can they make the leap to any standardized definition of "China," as the basis of their political identity? Without a process, there can be no goals to speak of.
The problem wioth goal orientation is its over-emphasis on a "future One China." It offers no solutions to how to deal with One China today. Process orientation focuses on ongoing processes. It seeks a rational process in order to arrive at clearer goals.
In fact, in 1997, former ARATS chairman Wang Daohan spoke of "One China, In Progress." This was the first time process orientation appeared in cross-Strait dialogue. One need only point to his One China, In Progress to understand Wang's ideological position. He said, "One China does not mean the People's Republic of China. Nor does it mean the Republic of China. It means a unified China created by compatriots on both sides." This is the Roof Theory, the One China, Different Interpretations Theory. Wang said, "The so-called one China, is a yet to be reunified China, a unified China that we are both moving towards." This is the Roof Theory, the One China, Different Interpretations Theory, and process orientation. Wang even said that One China is not present tense, because it is difficult to achieve in the present. But neither is it future tense, because that would reduce One China to a remote destination whose path is riddled with obstacles. Therefore why not refer to it as One China, In Progress? This again is process orientation, One China, Different Interpretations, and the Roof Theory. Suddenly One China has become One China, In Progress.
One China, Different Interpretations is One China, In Progress. One China, In Progress is One China, Different Interpretations. We already have what we need. Why look elsewhere?
Looking back today, Wang had the reputation, the position, and the status. When he put forth his One China, In Progress, his vision was advanced, and his thinking flexible. The horizons he offered were broad, and the road he opened was wide. He was far ahead of his juniors. As we can see, those in the know understood the problems bedeviling Taipei and Beijing. But when it came to Different Interpretations, their views were as different as night and day. In recent years, some in Beijing have said: "Although the two sides have yet to be reunified, they are still part of One China." In March 2008, Hu Jintao spoke of One China, Different Interpretations on the hotline with George W. Bush. This was a variation on Wang's theory. But he apparently experienced a failure of nerve. He stopped referring to it. He retracted it. He hesitated, concerned about the implications. As a result the One China, Different Interpretations and One China, In Progress argument was not given adequate support. Process orientation also lost ground. Under the circumstances how can the two sides seek clearer goals? Ten years ago, Wang could be so open and enterprising. Ten years later, why have we become so closed and timid?
Without a rational process, we cannot clarify our goals. If Beijing will not accept the idea that the "Republic of China is part of China," how can the public on Taiwan accept "China" and consider themselves "Chinese?"
2010.02.04 03:26 am