Chen Shui-bian and Chen Yunlin's "Tsai Ing-wen Consensus"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 22, 2011
The DPP held a plenary meeting today. It will arrive at a resolution on the nomination of presidential candidates and the conduct of the party primaries. It may adopt any number of nomination procedures. But Tsai Ing-wen will probably be the party's nominee. The key will be how to implement her cross-Strait policy proposals.
Tsai Ing-wen's cross-Strait policy position includes two major points. One. It opposes the 1992 Consensus. Two. It declares that if the Democratic Progressive Party returns to power, it will continue the previous administration's cross-Strait policy. But these two points have already been refuted by Chen Shui-bian and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin. Tsai Ing-wen finds herself attacked both front and rear.
Chen Shui-bian and Chen Yunlin both made the same point. One the one hand Tsai Ing-wen opposes the 1992 Consensus. On the other hand she has declared that she intends to continue the previous administration's cross-Strait policy. This is self-contradictory, and makes no sense. As Chen Yunlin put it, "if" one opposes the 1992 Consensus, one cannot continue conducting cross-Strait economic exchanges. As Chen Shui-bian put it, "since" one opposes the 1992 Consensus, one cannot continue conducting cross-Strait economic exchanges. Comparing the two shines a spotlight on Tsai Ing-wen's logical contradiction. One might say that Chen Shui-bian and Chen Yunlin have reached a "Tsai Ing-wen Consensus."
Frank Hsieh proposed "One Constitution, Two Interpretations." He was blasted by others in his party. The main reason the DPP refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus is that the Taiwan independence movement cannot bring itself to recognize the Republic of China and the Constitution of the Republic of China. If they recognize the Republic of China, they must recognize the Constitution of the Republic of China. If they recognize the ROC Constitution, they must recognize the One China Constitution. If they recognize the One China Constitution, they must recognize One China, Different Interpretations. If they recognize One China, Different Interpretations, they must recognize the 1992 Consensus. Therefore if one wants to ascertain whether the DPP really recognizes the Republic of China, and is not merely engaging in "backdoor listing," merely ask whether they recognize the 1992 Consensus, and One China, Different Interpretations.
The logic of Taiwan independence is incompatible with the Republic of China. Frank Hsieh was blasted by Taiwan independence elements. "The DPP demands the rectification of names. How can it support One Constitution, Different Interpretations?" Frank Hsieh inadvertently touched the Taiwan independence movement's third rail. Refusing to recognize the 1992 Consensus and refusing to recognize the Republic of China, suddenly became two sides of the same coin. This suddenly made the 1992 Consensus an even more insoluble dilemma within the Democratic Progressive Party.
When Frank Hsieh made his proposal, he tested the Taiwan independence movement's bottom line. Not only does the movement oppose the 1992 Consensus, it also opposes One China, Different Interpretations. It categorically opposes the Republic of China and the Republic of China Constitution. Of course, that does not mean it will become the DPP's campaign platform for the coming 2012 presidential election. Interestingly enough, the political climate in the DPP is more Taiwan independence oriented than it has ever been during past presidential campaigns.
Compare the plight of Chen Shui-bian and Tsai Ing-wen. The DPP, in support of Chen Shui-bian's first campaign in 2000, issued its "Resolution on Taiwan's Future." They supported his advocacy of the "New Centrist Path." They allowed him to declare "Five Noes." They made every effort to soften the "Taiwan independence party platform." Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen stopped Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus and restarting the National Unification Council. Only then did Ah-Bian apply the brakes. By contrast, Tsai Ing-wen has yet to take her first step. But Taiwan independence elements have already forbidden her to recognize the 1992 Consensus. They have reminded her that she herself refused to recognize it. To intimidate her, they have made an example of Frank Hsieh. They forbade her from playing word games or engaging in "backdoor listing." They even forbade her from explicitly recognizing the Republic of China. They reminded her that she herself referred to the ROC as an "alien regime."
If this is the case, Tsai Ing-wen faces two problems. One. Whether to continue publicly expressing opposition to the 1992 Consensus. If she wants to change course, how can she continue playing word games? Two. If she wishes to express her views on the Republic of China, and return to the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," that still does not solve the problem. The "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" states that "according to the Constitution, [Taiwan] shall be known as the "Republic of China." But if one recognizes the "ROC Constitution" and the "Republic of China," how can one refuse to accept the "One China Constitution," "One China, Different Interpretations" and the "1992 Consensus?" Frank Hsieh learned a lesson. Do not play word games with "One Constitution, Different Interpretations."
As Taiwan independence elements recapitulate the vicissitudes of the past eight years, they have clearly concluded that Chen Shui-bian's "Five Noes" were a form of self incarceration, and a betrayal of Taiwan independence. They also consider the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" and "backdoor listing" opportunistic behavior. Hence the massive backlash against Frank Hsieh's "One Constitution, Different Interpretations" and "word games." As for Chen Shui-bian, he has become the spiritual leader of "One nation on each side." He is doing his utmost to ensure his historical legacy. He is giving himself a makeover, from "corrupt president" to "Taiwan independence standard-bearer." Years ago, Tsai Ing-wen forbade Chen from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. Years later, Chen is not about to let Tsai Ing-wen off the hook.
If Tsai Ing-wen fails to clarify her stand on the 1992 Consensus, how can she respond to Chen Shui-bian and Chen Yunlin? If Tsai Ing-wen fails to clarify her stand on the "Republic of China," how can she respond to Frank Hsieh, who asked, "Without it, [the ROC] how can we even hold a presidential election?"
Tsai Ing-wen was originally considered the Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate most able to reconcile cross-Strait relations with national identity. But the situation has evolved. She may be the person in the greatest peril, with the least room to maneuver. That is because she once forced Chen Shui-bian to say "I oppose the 1992 Consensus!" and because she herself says it today.