DPP Must Adopt a Pragmatic Cross-Strait Policy
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 27, 2010
When the Democratic Progressive Party kicks off its 2012 presidential campaign, it must change its cross-Strait policy.
Ideally, the DPP would: One. Abandon its goal of Taiwan independence. Two. Recognize the Republic of China Constitution, without reservation. Three. From this day forward, hold high the red, white, and blue Republic of China flag at all DPP rallies. Such a radical transformation however, is a pipe dream. Everyone knows the DPP cannot possibly implement such changes. Consider the problems, in ascending order. If ROC national flags still cannot be seen within the ranks of the DPP, how can one possibly expect the DPP to recognize the Republic of China -- without reservation? How can one possibly expect the DPP to forsake its goal of Taiwan independence? Conversely, suppose the DPP continues using the "Republic of China" as a fig leaf, even as it refuses to abandon Taiwan independence? Suppose "Nation of Taiwan" flags continue fluttering within the ranks of the DPP? How can the DPP possibly transform its cross-Strait policy?
The Chen regime ruled for eight years, and this was its cross-Strait policy. The ROC flag flew over the Presidential Palace. But at DPP rallies, one saw only a sea of green. The DPP was not a "loyal opposition party" when it was out of power. It was not even a "loyal ruling party" when it was in power. Therefore, when the DPP runs for election in 2012, it must jettison the Chen regime's cross-Strait policy. Chen Shui-bian once affirmed the "five noes." He even paid homage to his Mainland forebears. But later he clamored for the Rectification of Names, and made peace impossible. Therefore if the DPP hopes to return to power in 2012, it needs to undergo just such a radical transformation. Otherwise it will never be able to achieve cross-Strait mutual trust.
However, as we noted above, such an expectation is a pipe dream. Signs suggest that DPP cross-Strait policy is what it has always been. One. To the DPP, "One China" is the PRC. Two. The DPP rejects the "1992 Consensus and One China, Different Interpretations." Three. The DPP expects Beijing to "make concessions" to its Taiwan compatriots, but simultaneously promotes Taiwan independence. Four. The DPP trumpets reform and transformation each time an election rolls around, but "Nation of Taiwan" flags continue to flutter above the heads of supporters. This approach may allow the DPP to win elections. But it will not allow it to govern. The DPP cannot simultaneously maintain economic exchanges while championing Taiwan independence. Cross-Strait relations involve a bottom line. Beijing opposes Taiwan independence. The ruling administration of the Republic of China cannot adopt a policy of Taiwan independence. But it can uphold the right of Taiwan independence advocates to exercise their freedom of speech. The ROC must support the 1992 consensus. Beijing can stress the One China Principle. Taipei can stress One China, Different Interpretations.
If the DPP returns to power because Tsai Ing-wen is elected president, it must abruptly alter its cross-Strait policy. Otherwise upon taking office, it will be hijacked by Beijing. One. Tsai champions the Two States Theory, rejects the 1992 Consensus, and opposes ECFA. If Tsai takes office, Beijing will naturally want to hear the president-elect's views on the 1992 Consensus. If Tsai fails to change her tune before the election, can she really change it after the election? If she does not change her tune, can she really pass muster? Two. Cross-strait economic and social exchanges have passed the point of no return. If the DPP fails to change its cross-Strait policy before the election, it will be forced to rethink it after it assumes power. It cannot repeat the mistake of the Chen regime. It cannot "win the election but lose its direction." Besides, the Chen regime merely had to obstruct the progress of cross-Strait relations. In 2012, a DPP administration must confront a fait accompli. That will be a different matter altogether.
In sum, the DPP's cross-Strait policy for 2012 must get past "backdoor listing." It must abandon its "Taiwan independence party platform." The existence of the "Taiwan independence party platform" has transformed the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" into a template for "backdoor listing." It has also provided a basis for the "Resolution for a Normal Nation" and the "Rectification of Names." If DPP cross-Strait rhetoric cannot get past this framework, how can the DPP achieve bilateral trust?
Suppose the DPP retains its "Taiwan independence party platform?" Suppose Tsai Ing-wen is elected president in 2012? She will immediately become a female counterpart of Chen Shui-bian. Chen Shui-bian could avoid being hijacked by Beijing. But Tsai Ing-wen will not be able to escape such a fate.
The DPPs fundamental problem remains its refusal to recognize the national flag. It is willing only to recognize the flag of the "Nation of Taiwan." This is how it feels, even as it attempts to seize power under the ROC Constitution. Its behavior involves an irreconcilable contradiction. The two sides experienced the consequences of this contradiction between 2000 and 2008. That experience is not something they will soon forget.
The DPP must jettison its existing cross-Strait policy. The DPP must think hard about what must be done. But myriad obstacles stand in the way. The DPP must think hard about how it can be done.