Tsai Ing-wen Has Painted Herself into a Corner
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 29, 2010
During an interview with the media, President Ma Ying-jeou demanded that DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen come clean. "Does she recognize the 1992 Consensus or not?" The DPP's response was swift. "The DPP has never recognized the 1992 Consensus."
We urge the DPP to think twice before speaking, The DPP should refrain from making such a sweeping statement. Because without the 1992 Consensus, there can be no "peaceful development" between Taipei and Beijing.
Without the 1992 Consensus, the two sides cannot possibly enjoy "peaceful development." Everyone knows this. The DPP cannot possibly be unaware of this. Nor can Tsai Ing-wen. The main reason the DPP and Tsai Ing-wen refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus, is intra-party power struggles.
The political situation on Taiwan has undergone changes since the five cities elections. In particular, power relations within the DPP have undergone massive changes. Two major trends have appeared. One. Tsai Ing-wen has gained political momentum. She may relegate Su Tseng-chang's generation to the dustbin of history -- in one fell swoop. Two. Chen Shui-bian scored an election victory on the shoulders of the "one country on each side connection." As a result, he may become a "party within the party." These two trends, including Tsai Ing-wen eliminating Su Tseng-chang as a player, will only benefit Chen Shui-bian. They leave the impression that Tsai Ing-wen is at loggerheads with Chen Shui-bian over his advocacy of "one country each side." Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus. One reason is her fear of Chen Shui-bian.
Let us begin at the beginning. In May 2000, President Chen Shui-bian began his first term as president. In June, he met with officials from the US. He accepted "One China, Different Interpretations," and the 1992 Consensus. The next day, as a result of intervention by then Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council Tsai Ing-wen, Chen Shui-bian repudiated his previous statement. Not only that, Chen Shui-bian even contemplated abolishing the National Unification Council. He followed the example set by Lee Teng-hui. He personally assumed the chairmanship of the National Unification Council. He failed to follow through as a result of Tsai Ing-wen's opposition. In other words, the demise of Chen Shui-bian's "new centrist path" was primarily Tsai Ing-wen's responsibility. Tsai has a history of opposition to the 1992 Consensus. How can she possibly fail to oppose it now? Suppose Tsai endorses the 1992 Consensus? Won't Chen Shui-bian, who is leading the charge on "one country each side" insist on settling an old score with Tsai Ing-wen?
This is a paradox of history. To the general public and DPP reformers, Tsai Ing-wen is the person most likely to lead the DPP toward a new era. The key to the DPP's transformation is recognizing the ROC Constitution and changing the DPP's cross-Strait policy accordingly. The 1992 Consensus is the key within the key. Besides, the 1992 Consensus was a key first turned by the KMT. The DPP can simply say it is "continuing the cross-Strait policies of the previous administration." It can merely go with the flow, and stabilize the situation. But who knew that Tsai Ing-wen, the person most likely to lead the DPP into a new era, would find herself stuck? She is stuck over "reality vs. development," "attack vs. defense," and the "1992 Consensus, and one China, different interpretations." Years ago Tsai Ing-wen prevented Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. Now, years later, she must suffer the consequences of her own actions. Karmic payback has resulted in a tragic absurdity.
We have repeatedly stressed the importance of the 1992 Consensus. Therefore this article will not harp on the matter now. In sum, the "peaceful development" enjoyed by the two sides today is rooted entirely in the above mentioned 1992 Consensus. Repudiating the 1992 Consensus means repudiating "peaceful development." For example, if one repudiates the 1992 Consensus, how can one possibly uphold ECFA? Is this really what the DPP advocates? Is this really Tsai Ing-wen's proposal? Is this really how the DPP intends to rule the nation in the event it returns to power in 2012?
Besides, why has Tsai Ing-wen repudiated the 1992 Consensus? Has she done so out of concern for the nation's current and future survival? Or did she do so merely out of concern for her personal political survival? Did she do so merely because Chen Shui-bian made it known that she once blocked the 1992 Consensus? Did she do so merely because she now finds it impossible to change her tune? On this, the DPP must be clear. Tsai Ing-wen herself must be even clearer. Therefore, we urge the DPP to think twice before speaking, and to refrain from making such a sweeping statement. After all, if it repudiates the 1992 Consensus, what sort of "Political Platform for the Coming Decade" can it possibly offer?
In June 2000, Tsai Ing-wen first prevented Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. As a result, the DPP spun its wheels over "one country each side," for the next eight years. Now Tsai Ing-wen is the Democratic Progressive Party's 2012 presidential candidate. Does she really intend to repudiate the 1992 Consensus a second time? Does she really intend to launch a coordinated attack against the 1992 Consensus in lockstep with Chen Shui-bian?
Tsai Ing-wen finds herself caught on the horns of a dilemma. If she recognizes the 1992 Consensus, how can she answer to Chen Shui-bian and her Deep Green supporters? If she repudiates the 1992 Consensus, how can she answer to the majority of the public? How should she approach the 2012 presidential election? Will the DPP move toward a scenario in which Tsai Ing-wen eliminates Su Tseng-chang, while Chen Shui-bian coopts Tsai Ing-wen?
Who would have guessed that the paint Tsai Ing-wen laid down in June 2000, would paint her into a corner years later?