Tsai Ing-wen's Cross-Strait Sophistry
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 24, 2011
Summary: DPP Chairman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen has unveiled her Political Platform for the Coming Decade. It includes a chapter on "national security and cross-Strait economic exchanges." In it she resorts to all manner of sophistries to justify her stance on cross-Strait policy. Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP cling to the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. Do they acknowledge whether the Republic of China is a sovereign and independent nation? Must Taiwan labor under the curse of independence and nation building? Must politicians on Taiwan repeatedly incite unnecessary political controversy? Must they repeatedly undermine cross-Strait peace and prosperity?
Full Text below:
DPP Chairman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen has unveiled her Political Platform for the Coming Decade. It includes a chapter on "national security and cross-Strait economic exchanges." In it she resorts to all manner of sophistries to justify her stance on cross-Strait policy. Key points include: The DPP will accept the already signed cross-Strait trade and economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA). If the DPP returns to power, it will deal with any related issue in accordance with democratic processes and international norms. But the "1992 Consensus" does not exist. Therefore the DPP has no need to either accept it or reject it. Superficially Tsai Ing-wen's argument may seem sound. But in fact it is self-contradictory and cannot withstand close scrutiny.
Take ECFA for example, The two sides signed a framework agreement in accordance with democratic processes and international norms. First, the agreement was approved by the Legislative Yuan, Second, the agreement between the two sides accorded with World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, and was even submitted to the WTO after signing. Tsai Ing-wen proposes to redo everything the Ma administration already did. She then intends to make it part of her campaign platform. She even intends to make it part of the DPP's political principles.
Tsai Ing-wen has accused the Ma administration of turning a blind eye to the long term effects of ECFA on Taiwan's development. She accuses the Ma administration of ignoring the "China Factor." She says doing so could make it impossible for Taiwan to sign free trade agreements with other important trading partners. But the truth is just the reverse. The Chen regime ruled for eight years. Apart from a handful of diplomatic allies, no other nations signed FTAs with Taipei. By contrast, the Ma administration successfully signed FTAs with many non-allies, all in three short years. Taipei has yet to sign an FTA with Washington. But the sticking point is not any alleged "China Factor." It is the still unresolved dispute between Taipei and Washington over US beef imports and Clenbuterol.
Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP blasted ECFA, both before and after it was signed. They said it seriously harmed industries on Taiwan. During an interview with the SET channels's "Taiwan Yes" talk show, Tsai publicly proclaimed that the DPP would launch a referendum drive and allow the people to decide whether they still wanted ECFA. The facts have shown that ECFA has benefitted industries on Taiwan. Beneficiaries include counties headed by the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen must reconcile her current position with past statements. Unfortunately for her, she cannot erase what she said before.
The 1992 Consensus is of supreme importance to cross-Strait relations. But Tsai Ing-wen considers the 1992 Consensus "non-existent." To her, the 1992 Consensus does not exist. But the 1991 National Unification Guidelines and the 1992 Consensus made the 1993 Koo-Wang Summit possible. This is historical fact. The two sides have set aside their differences, and each side adheres to its own definition of "One China." Because the two sides had this consensus, peaceful cross-Strait exchanges prevail today.
In fact, the two sides have already held six Chiang-Chen Summits, and signed 15 agreements, including the most important agreement of all, ECFA. Every one of these agreements are predicated upon the 1992 Consensus. To repudiate the 1992 Consensus is to repudiate the very basis of these cross-Strait agreements. Repudiation would threaten existing agreements. Repudiation would also threaten future cross-strait consultations, Repudiation of the 1992 Consensus would repudiate everything that went before. What kind of leader indulges in such myopic thinking?
Tsai Ing-wen told interviewers that "[Mainland] China must consider what kind of relationship it wants to maintain with Taiwan. If [Mainland] China insists that its principles trump all else, it will collide head on with mainstream thinking on Taiwan. Would this be a good thing for [Mainland] China? " But the reverse is equally true, Tsai Ing-wen should ask herself, "Taiwan must consider what kind of relationship it wants to maintain with Mainland China. If Taiwan insists that its principles trump all else, it will collide head on with mainstream thinking on Mainland China. Would this be a good thing for Taiwan?"
Cross-Strait relations affect both sides. Neither side can expect the other to acquiesce totally to its demands. The 1992 Consensus is the balance point between these two interests. Both sides adhere to their own positions, while setting aside their differences. The DPP insists on rejecting the 1992 Consensus, and butting heads with the Mainland, What good will this do Taiwan? What good will this do peaceful cross-strait exchanges?
Tsai Ing-wen rejects the 1992 Consensus. She says that once she is elected president, she will use the democratic process to establish a new "Taiwanese Consensus" as a basis for cross-Strait talks. She said that creating a domestic consensus is the responsibility of the president. "The president cannot consider only his own party's interests, nor can he cling to a predetermined position. Quite true. A presidential election is the important democratic institution of all. In 2008, the people elected Ma Ying-jeou president. By doing so, they voted in favor of across the board, peaceful, pragmatic cross-Strait relations, predicated upon the 1992 Consensus. How can Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP consider only her own party's interests? How can she cling to a predetermined position? How can she presume that the DPP alone represents "mainstream thinking" on Taiwan?
If Tsai Ing-wen is merely confused, then she should refer to former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh's statement. "After half a century of living together, we already have a consensus!" [As Shih Ming-teh sees it] the Republic of China is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the Republic of China. Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP cling to the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. Do they acknowledge whether the Republic of China is a sovereign and independent nation? Must Taiwan labor under the curse of independence and nation building? Must politicians on Taiwan repeatedly incite unnecessary political controversy? Must they repeatedly undermine cross-Strait peace and prosperity?