Is There a 1992 Consensus?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 4, 2010
The KMT and the DPP are crossing swords over whether there is a "1992 Consensus," and whether to recognize the 1992 Consensus. These are really two questions. If there is no 1992 Consensus, what's the point of recognizing it? If there is a 1992 Consensus, what would be the consequences of repudiating it?
First, suppose there is no 1992 Consensus. Then what? The answer is, even assuming there was no 1992 Consensus before, there is a 1992 Consensus now. In 1992, during negotiations in Hong Kong, no one actually used the term, "1992 Consensus." But since then, Taipei has characterized the negotiations as "one China, different interpretations," while Beijing has characterized the negotiations as "different interpretations of one China." The two sides clearly arrived at a consensus. They agreed to emphasize areas they shared in common, and to set aside areas they did not. Since then, this consensus has become known as the "1992 Consensus." It has become a keyword in cross-Strait interaction. That is an even clearer fact. That is why even though the term "1992 Consensus" may not have existed before, it exists now. As for "one China, different interpretations," and "different interpretations of one China," these existed long ago. This sums up the KMT position.
Tsai Ing-wen said: "Asking me to recognize something that does not exist is very difficult." In other words, she insists there is no 1992 Consensus. If Tsai Ing-wen is merely asserting that no one used the term "1992 Consensus" back in 1992, then she is merely indulging in meaningless sophistry. She must confront reality. The fact is that today, when the two sides wish to state their position, they refer to the "1992 Consensus." Imagine a baby born in 1992. He is later given a name -- "1992 Consensus." Tsai Ing-wen cannot insist that merely because the baby was not given a name in 1992, therefore it does not exist. The fundamental question is not whether the baby exists, but whether to recognize that it exists. Nineteen years have elapsed. Yet the baby is still struggling to survive. It was belatedly given a name -- "1992 Consensus," merely for convenience.
The Democratic Progressive Party and Tsai Ing-wen have two reasons for repudiating the 1992 Consensus. Reason One, as this newspaper recently noted, is that In 2000, then Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Tsai Ing-wen, stopped President Chen Shui-bian from recognizing the 1992 Consensus. If she reneges by recognizing the 1992 Consensus today, she will be stoned to death by Taiwan independence advocates. Reason Two is that from Taipei's perspective, the "1992 Consensus" is "one China, different interpretations." The "one China" aspect is already part of our own "One China Constitution." But the DPP cannot free itself of its attachment to Taiwan independence. If it recognizes the 1992 Consensus, it must also recognize the One China Constitution, which is diametrically opposed to Taiwan independence. This, for the DPP, is an insurmountable internal obstacle. In other words, the primary reason the DPP feels compelled to repudiate the 1992 Consensus, is the One China Constitution. If the DPP recognizes the One China Constitution, it has no reason to repudiate "one China, different interpretations." Conversely, if it recognizes "one China, different interpretations," how can it repudiate the 1992 Consensus?
Therefore, the two parties have a fundamental difference. The KMT upholds the Republic of China, the "One China Constitution," "one China, different interpretations," and champions the 1992 Consensus. The DPP repudiates the Republic of China and the "One China Constitution." It insists that "one China, different interpretations" is infeasible, and repudates the 1992 Consensus. The fundamental difference between the two parties lies in the way they think. One thinks in terms of the "Republic of China." The other thinks in terms of a "Nation of Taiwan."
The DPP has offered one somewhat more persuasive argument. It asks, "Can one China, different interpretations really work?" Will the CCP really recognize the Republic of China? Unfortunately this merely reflects the DPP's long-standing policy of repudiating and humiliating the Republic of China. The DPP ignores the Republic of China's struggle to survive. It ignores the Republic of China's achievements. It attempts to replace the Republic of China with a "Nation of Taiwan." It is true that Beijing does not publicly recognize "one China, different interpretations." But Hu Jintao recognized it once, while speaking on the Bush/Hu hotline. This recognition was one of great significance. But the progress made in "mutual non-repudiation" in any number of areas, has been obvious. The Republic of China should make a greater effort on behalf of "one China, different interpretations." Beijing has yet to publicly recognize "one China, different interpretations." But for the past two years, it has never publicly repudiated "one China, different interpretations." As an editorial published by this newspaper on New Year's day noted, this has moved cross-Strait relations out of the era of "confrontation," into the era of "avoidance," and finally into the era of "coopetition." This is a major achievement, based on the "1992 Consensus." To the Republic of China, the situation is hardly satisfactory. But at least it holds the possibility of improvement. After all, the 1992 Consensus is a concept that allows growth and development.
By contrast, the DPP repudiates the "1992 Consensus," the "One China Constitution," "one China, different interpretations," and the "1992 Consensus." This is tantamount to a total negation of our existing constitution and the foundation of cross-Strait "peaceful development."
In fact, the question the DPP faces is not "whether there is a 1992 Consensus." The question is how can Taipei possibly cope with cross-Strait relations if it abandons the currently accepted 1992 Consensus,